What does your heart tell you about the work you were meant to do? Bestselling author Jeff Goins wrote The Art of Work, sharing his research on vocation and the paths we might explore to live out our dreams. The impact of the pandemic and the “great resignation” (I prefer the great rethink!) include a single year record of 47.8 million people quitting their jobs. If you’re considering how to realign life and work, read on.
For my TLDR folk, Jeff and I recorded a LeadUP! Conversation that you can watch or listen to here.
Vocation: Work You’re MEANT To Do
In addition to The Art of Work, Jeff’s works include The In-Between, Wrecked, You Are A Writer, and Real Artists Don’t Starve. Jeff hosts the podcast, “Hey, Creator!,” and inspires people to step into their creatively and embrace their vocation. The concept is timely.
Jeff distinguishes vocation from the idea of a job or occupation. Living out our calling suggests the work we do nurtures us as we make an impact in the world. We actively choose meaning. In his words, “vocation is how we dance with our own being, our own self hood.”
The Art of Work is chock full of the stories of real people following a path of identifying their own vocation, honing their craft, and leaving a legacy. In Jeff’s words, a “calling is not so much this carefully laid plan that you execute with precision.” We don’t have to know exactly where to go, and we don’t have to go it alone.
Partners & Pivots
In our conversation, we talked about the importance of community and the people who come alongside of us on our journey. Jeff shared that sometimes asking someone to mentor us is not always effective. Instead of the ask, meet for coffee twice, and the relationship peters out pattern, we may benefit more from accidental apprenticeships. He says, “At your most dire moment, when you have no idea how the heck you’re going to take this next step in your life … somebody will show up serendipitously in your life, with the key to the door you cannot open. And it will feel ordinary, it will feel normal, and it will be easy to overlook.”
Pursuit of a vocation or calling doesn’t mean we find our right path right away or that we don’t face obstacles along the way. In our conversation, we tied these experiences to embracing a pivot. Jeff observed, “there are certain doors that you can’t kick down in life, no matter how hard you try … when you find yourself heading towards a destination, and the road is a dead end, don’t be afraid to turn around, backtrack a few miles, find the latest fork and take the other way.”
Meaning & Legacy
Although it’s not explicitly called out, pursuing a vocation doesn’t mean performing a “mundane” job isn’t honorable work or a required means for an individual (and his or her family). One of the stories in The Art of Work featured Sam, a farmer in Uganda. Sam’s dream involved providing his family a home built from brick. In addition to farming, he sold bags of olive oil on the roadside. In his shed, he recorded what he needed to achieve his goal and his progress. Sam’s work was deeply meaningful as a source to achieve his objective.
Before we concluded our LeadUP session, Jeff and I explored the concept of legacy. He shared this insight: “You want to know what your legacy is, look at your life right now. That’s a pretty good picture of what you’re gonna leave behind. And if you’re proud of that, keep doing that. If there are things that you could do better, which is true for all of us, then work on those things.”
Where ever you are in your current career or entrepreneurial progression, if you’re feeling a sense of wanting to stretch or pivot, The Art of Work is a worthy read. Listen or watch our complete LeadUP! Conversation here. As always, feel free to reach out with any questions or thoughts on the topic.
In addition to his many books, Jeff Goins is also a speaker and founder of the Nashville-based creative agency, Fresh Complaint. For more information, visit https://goinswriter.com/. Purchase The Art of Work or any of Jeff’s other books on Amazon from his author page.
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