"Quitter" by Jon Acuff

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

When I first heard of the book "Quitter" last year, the concept of the book intrigued me: a book that purported to teach its audience how to stop becoming a serial quitter (of jobs) and how to hold a day job while strengthening your dream job. At the time, I had not yet made the decision to quit my job and move to Taiwan to learn Mandarin ... I was really still exploring my options, so I felt it was something I really needed to read.

Of course, life doesn't always wait around for you to think things through and make thorough decisions, and before I knew it, I'd been accepted into my Mandarin language program, planning my two weeks' notice and booking a one-way ticket to Taiwan. It wasn't until just last week that I finally finished reading the book. I've never liked leaving a book half-finished, and knowing that I'm about to head back to New York City with no plans and not much more direction than when I left New York City, well, I figured it was a good time to pick the book back up.

The author of the book is Jon Acuff, the man behind the popular blog "Stuff Christians Like" and author of two other books. He is a self-proclaimed "serial quitter" who couldn't (or didn't want to) ever hold down a job for too long.

Most self-help books don't really tell you anything new; they just find inspiring and novel ways to say what you already know. Half the trick to being a bestselling self-help author is in the hands of the reader, who's already looking for help anyway. That's what I think, anyhow. Well, after reading through Jon Acuff's book, I have to say ... he makes some decent points -- nothing earth shattering, but maybe holding down a full-time job that you only tolerate isn't the worst idea, while you're cultivating your passion.

His main point, which is reiterated throughout the book, is that in spite of everything, having a job you only marginally like will provide a safety net for you to fall back on, and will leave you more options. The longer you can hold on, the more leeway you're giving your future self because of the money you'll have made and the financial freedom you're creating for yourself.

He also points out a few other things that are pretty obvious: that you are picking up skills that you might need later on, that you're building your self-control and discipline, that maybe even without your job, you wouldn't have extra time to work on your dream. One thing he says very early on that I hadn't ever thought of in that particular light was that there are no wrong turns, only lessons that will build you into a person who will succeed (well, maybe he didn't say it quite like that). As a twentysomething/citizen of the world during this Great Recession, I'm constantly worrying about making a wrong move. So much so that I've been afraid to make much of any move at all, except out of places that make me unhappy. To think in the vein that Jon Acuff wants us to think in is a much more positive outlook, not to mention more likely to be true.

He also encourages the reader to "fall in like with a job you don't love," which is probably a clunkier way of saying "it's not having what you want, it's wanting what you have." (Thanks, Sheryl Crow.) And to hustle, a.k.a. work hard ... but to do more of what you love and less of what you don't really like.

All in all, I think the book is worth reading if you need a new perspective on working the 'ole 9 to 5 and you feel you might be stuck in terms of pursuing a passion or dream of yours. He offers some good advice and plenty of personal anecdotes to back up his advice. Has his book clarified my dream or my path towards fulfilling my dream for me? No. But has he given me perspective on what not to do? Yes. And maybe that makes it worth the $10.

Some of my favorite quotes from the book:

"Sometimes when we're afraid of a risk, we look at it through a magnifying glass. We stare intently at it, blowing the possible consequences way out of proportion. We stare so closely at the risk that it fills our entire field of vision. We lose all sight of the possible reward a dream offers. We allow the risk to dominate the dream and define the future."

"Hustle is really that simple. We often try to make it complicated. We say things like, 'I don't even know where to start' or, 'I just don't have the time' or, "I'm afraid to do it the wrong way,' when it comes to hard work and putting in effort. But our desire to complicate it is all too often just a cover for laziness or fear."

"Pitting your dream against someone else's is a fantastic way to get discouraged and depressed. Nothing good comes from measuring your dream against your competition."

"Don't accept the lie that work has to be miserable and dreams are for other people. They are for everyone."

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