Wednesday, May 15, 2013

My Book Review: "Start" by Jon Acuff

My perspective and emotions kind of ran the whole spectrum when I read Jon Acuff’s latest offering, “Start.” Admittedly the first two thirds of the book had me intrigued and hooked. Consequently it also caused me to reflect a great deal on how I got to where I am today in my career and evaluate where I want it to go, and probably more importantly, not go.

My wife gave an incredible piece of insight that eased the pressure I began to put on myself as I read the book. She shared that Acuff’s insights and attitudes towards work can be interpreted to breed a  workaholic. I thought about that for a minute.

What if I were to create and walk into my dream job? What if today the bridge between my day job and my dream job were merged and I began working in my passion. Say today I started work providing financial advising to middle income households? Then I state that I would be thrilled and passionate to wake up every day and get into work as early as I could to start changing as many financial lives as I could. I can see myself putting in long hours, early in, last one out, doing everything I could to analyze, dissect and nurture my clients. I would also be hustling on nights and weekends doing everything I could to network, because in that scenario I would be trying to reach as many people as I could, in hopes of helping them become weird just like me and do things like shun credit, use debt snowballs and get gazelle intense.

And when I pulled back from this view I analyzed where my time was being spent in the dream job scenario versus reality. In dream job scenario I live, breathe and dream providing financial advice to families, and in doing so I would neglect my own. In reality I am in like with a job that I don’t love. With 12+ work hour days occurring only a few times a year and weekends not the norm to come into the office, in this reality I have that much more time to live, breathe and dream about my family. Time to nurture my relationship with my wife, with myself in therapy and time to be an active participant in my faith community.

 It’s actually quite the trade-off. And if my dream job popped in front of me tomorrow with enticing bait, it wouldn’t exactly be a slam dunk for me to abandon my current post. I enjoy having time available to seek and find fulfillment in my life. Do I wish I were in my dream job? Of course I do. But the trade-off of time certainly makes me think twice about turning the career dream into reality.

But back on point to the, “Start,” review (I tend to get sidetracked). For the first two thirds of the book Acuff does a great job of rewriting the ways that we see our career tracks. The assessment of the traditional model from years 20 through 60 were profound and his suggestions are definitely reasons enough to give this book a read. Jon’s exuberance definitely leaps off the pages, even so that at a few points he reminded me of the overly caffeinated cheerleaders at the school pep-rally.

The last third of the book goes fast as Jon provides some checklists and tips for after the last page is read. Unfortunately though he doesn’t do the smoothest job of transitioning and weaving between checklists and his normal writing style, as the two get blurred by the end of the book.

But regardless, I found “Start” to be a great read and certainly thought provoking.

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