Review | Quitter

Quitter: Closing the Gap Between Your Day Job and Your Dream Job by Jon Acuff

Summary (from Goodreads)

Have you ever felt caught between the tension of a day job and a dream job? That gap between what you have to do and what you’d love to do?

I have.

At first I thought I was the only one who felt that way, but then I started to talk to people and realized we’re becoming the “I’m, but” generation. When we talk about what we do for a living we inevitably say, “I’m a teacher, but I want to be an artist.” “I’m a CPA, but I’d love to start my own business.”

“I’m a _____, but I want to be a ______.”

All too often, we hear that dreaming big means you quit your day job, sell everything you own, and move to Guam. But what if there were a different way?

What if you could blow up your dream without blowing up your life?

What if you could go for broke without going broke?

What if you could start today?

What if you already have everything you need to begin?

From figuring out what your dream is to quitting in a way that exponentially increases your chance of success, Quitter is full of inspiring stories and actionable advice. This book is based on 12 years of cubicle living and my true story of cultivating a dream job that changed my life and the world in the process.

It’s time to close the gap between your day job and your dream job.

It’s time to be a Quitter.

Review | 3 stars

While this was a fun, easy read with tons of useful information, the audience is a bit too narrow for my taste. Acuff writes for the dreamer who has a day job, the person who aspires to a more non-traditional job or career path than the typical nine to five. I would not consider this a book to help a person switch daytime careers (e.g., accountant to school teacher) although it still is encouraging to read about how others have succeeded personally and professionally (since they are so intertwined, honestly). I liked the tone and style. A couple notes from the text below:

Always start with your passion, and start practicing to get yourself comfortable or more adept at what it is you’re passionate about BEFORE you lay out a full plan to reach your goals. Your passion is the fuel to get through the tough times. A plan can’t do that on its own.

5 questions to ask at your turning point (“hinge”):
1. Do I love doing this enough to do it for free?
2. When I do this does time feel different?
3. Do I enjoy doing this regardless of the opinions of other people?
4. If I pursue this and only MY life changes, is that enough?
5. Is this the first time I’ve loved this or is this part of a bigger pattern in my life?

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Review | Holy Hustle

Holy Hustle: Embracing a Work-Hard, Rest-Well Life

by Crystal Stine

Summary (from Goodreads)

Work without Shame,
Rest without Guilt

Balance. It’s what we long for in our lives as we hear shouts of “Work harder!” in one ear, and whispers to “rest more” in the other. What if God’s plan for us isn’t just one way or the other?

Enter the holy hustle.

Crystal Stine followed the path to success as she climbed the corporate ladder. Now she explores “hustle” in a new light as a self-employed, work-from-home mom. She invites you to join her in experiencing…

renewed peace as you focus on serving, not striving
reawakened potential as you ditch comparison and embrace community
redefined purpose as you seek the roles God has for you

You were created to work with enthusiasm for the right reasons—and you were also made with a need to rest. Discover the place where these two sides meet in a happy, holy hustle.

Review | 4.5 stars

Stine’s engaging writing held my full attention for this refreshingly short and to-the-point book emphasizing the importance of harmony between rest and work. Holy Hustle gives great perspective on how we need to avoid laziness and cling to rest while also avoiding striving in favor of hustling. Drawing from multiple stories from the Old and New Testaments and much of the teaching of Jesus himself, Stine marries practical advice for balancing rest and work with the theology behind it. She includes many self-evaluations, writing prompts, and Bible reading assignments to guide the reader in their own discovery of what their personal rest and work will look like – Stine recognizes that each person rests and works in a unique way!

While Stine makes many key observations throughout the book, the most prominent is this: work is good, and rest is holy. Work is a mission field meant to bring glory to God! And we must use rest to be refilled, not as an excuse to be lazy.

Two of my favorite quotes:

Holy hustle means understanding the part of the work we’re responsible for.

We don’t need to do it all. We just need to do all of what God is giving us in this season.

I would highly recommend pairing with the 10-day YouVersion app devotional, or using the devotional as a follow-up to what you learn from the book.

Review | Make it Happen

Make it Happen: Surrender Your Fear. Take the Leap. Live On Purpose.

by Lara Casey

Summary (from Goodreads)

You were created for a purpose, and it’s time to make it happen.

Make It Happen is the story of how I surrendered my fear, took the leap, and got a life. In my case, a perfectly imperfect, fulfilling life as a mama, a working woman, and a grateful wife. This is the story of how I chose to make “it”—a greater purpose than mine—happen, and how you can too.

Make It Happen is for

  • women who find themselves worried, anxious, and completely overwhelmed by the constant chase for perfection
  • those seeking the courage to jump into a new venture
  • working women who are struggling to “do it all”
  • weary wives and moms looking for relief from burning the candle at both ends
  • anyone who dreams of a life lived not by accident, but on purpose

Your time has come to take a leap of faith. Join me as we surrender our fears, end the chase for perfection, and say yes to cultivating the meaningful lives God desires for us.

You know all those things you’ve always wanted to do? You should go do them.

Review | 4 stars

As a person who has not read anything by Lara Casey before, I appreciated the marriage of testimony and practical advice derived from her experiences contained in this book. Lara’s writing is relatable for women in any stage in their lives. The format made sense and was easy to navigate. I also like the writing prompts throughout.

Lifestyle | Worth My Time, pt.1

Hi friends!

I’m going to write a short series on how I spend my time in an effort to get to the root of how I’m living as a twenty-something. My goal is to identify what I’m doing, why I’m doing it, and how it adds value to the Kingdom of God.

Today my focus is work. The thing I go do between 8 am and 5 pm on weekdays, barring any vacation days or paid holidays.

What
I write for a company that provides important goods and services to military men and women, workers in Government agencies, and first responders in order to connect our capabilities and end user needs. Ultimately, we equip essential personnel with what they require to carry out their mission, whatever it may be, efficiently and effectively.

Why
I love that I get to help others do their jobs well. I am in a support role in my organization, meaning I assist others in meeting their goals and earning their income. Also, I have always been driven to support those people who choose to defend our country, whether at home or abroad, and this job gives me countless opportunities to work for those people.

I have a sense of purpose in doing my work, and do find a great deal of fulfillment in this role. Should I be fulfilled by my work? Biblically speaking, maybe? Doing good work is a way we glorify God (Colossians 3:23), but my sense of worth should not be derived from my job or career but instead my identity in Christ. I need some realignment in this area of my life.

I couldn’t answer the question of why I work without mentioning that I appreciate having income, insurance, and my savings/retirement through my company!

How
I am a light for Christ and the Gospel in a “secular” workplace. I strongly dislike differentiating between “religious” and “secular” because I try not to have such buckets or boundaries in my life. You shouldn’t meet a different Heather at work or at church. I have the opportunity to show others God’s goodness, grace, and love everywhere I go, including work (though sometimes I lack all three on a tough day).

Also, by doing good work, I bring glory to God who didn’t give us a life of leisure alone but one with labor and work, too (Genesis 1:28, 2:15). I have the opportunity to serve other people as well (Mark 10:35, 1 Peter 4:10).

In the grand scheme, a person’s work is not worth more or less than the next person’s if you go by the standards of showing people Christ and doing your job well. You can minister to people regardless of what you do or where you do it, whether as a homemaker, executive, manual laborer, student, pastor, artist, you name it. Because work, your profession, is not the end-all, be-all of life. It’s but one aspect of a life dedicated to Christ.

Total time dedicated to work: 40 of 168 hours per week

Review | Leadership and Self-Deception

Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting Out of the Box

by The Arbinger Institute

Summary (from Goodreads)

The “disease” of self-deception (acting in ways contrary to what one knows is right) underlies all leadership problems in today’s organizations, according to the premise of this work. However well intentioned they may be, leaders who deceive themselves always end up undermining their own performance.This straightforward book explains how leaders can discover their own self-deceptions and learn how to escape destructive patterns. The authors demonstrate that breaking out of these patterns leads to improved teamwork, commitment, trust, communication, motivation, and leadership.

Review | 5 stars

Told in an unconventional first person perspective, Leadership and Self-Deception was an astonishingly dense read that had me stopping for self-reflection at the end of many of the short chapters. Applicable to relationships of all sorts – in the workplace, family, friends, neighbors, and even complete strangers – Leadership and Self-Deception will probably show up on my physical bookshelf to be re-read often. A great check on what it is to look at people as people!

The Android Life

Why, hello there.

I find myself thinking about my little blog far too often to have left it collecting dust for this long. And so, without further ado, I would like to re-launch my writing on this, the ninth day of November in the year two-thousand and fifteen [insert trumpet fanfare and other flourish].

Life update: I recently (two months ago) started a new position at a workplace that is very different from that I am familiar with. I am no longer working almost exclusively with executives; instead, I am working closely with salespeople and product experts and subcontractors to complete proposals. It is a good change of pace, although I am having a rough time adjusting to the young culture and general positivity of the office.

It’s odd to think that working alongside other young professionals, and happy ones at that, has thrown me off. However, bear in mind that this whole phenomenon of people caring about their work is unusual for me. I am used to people fighting to leave at 5, only to work past then because of the shame of being the first to duck out. There’s a line in a Hyundai commercial… “When did leaving work on time become an act of courage?” Preach, Hyundai.

In my work and school life, it has always been a competition of who was more miserable. I became comfortable with this sad race to the bottom (of self-esteem, that is), clinging to my unhappiness because it was what I knew. Since before I started college, the people around me have complained and out-done each other to prove they were the most dedicated and well-rounded people; I do more, work more, am more than you, and the evidence of my success is my absolute misery.

Newsflash, comparison is the thief of any and all joy. Comparison has kept me from living a full life; because I am so bent on getting ahead or reaching my career goals or achieving x, y, and z, I sometimes ignore my needs for community and rest and fun and all the things that make life more interesting.

Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing bad about wanting to do good work. Work is not a distraction from our mission and purpose to spread the Gospel and make disciples, but part of it.

Two things come to mind when I think of dedicating my time, energy, and effort to work. (1) Work is not a sinful thing, brought upon humanity because of Adam and Eve’s fall from the good graces of God. Adam and Eve were hipsters… “I worked before the Fall.” God had a purpose for their work, and they did it unto the Lord from the time they were created. Which brings me to point two.

(2) We work not just for personal gain or even the benefit of others, whether family or friends or that guy down the street who needs your help. We work unto the Lord. It’s pretty self-explanatory here in Colossians 3:23-24, where Paul writes, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” Ba-boom.

With all this being said, there are aspects of my work life that are a hindrance to my seeing the bigger picture, embracing the fulfillment that comes when carrying out God’s will in my everyday life. Namely, perfectionism stands in my way, daily.

My perfectionism, while it has its merits (producing quality work I am proud to claim as my own), has proven stifling and even incapacitating. I’ve been in proposal writing for two years, albeit primarily in the commercial sector. Needless to say, when I don’t measure up doing this job I should already be so familiar with, it hurts me to the core. It literally pains my heart when I can’t deliver what I promised, or when my work is sub-par (note: by either my insane standards or someone else’s). Sometimes I just sit in my car and cry about the flaws in my work, my methods, my processes, my products. And as bad as that sounds, psychologically it makes sense. I pour my heart and soul into my work and achieving perfection… To the point that it has become my idol.

Idols aren’t just physical things, like a statue or figure. Idols can be people, or status, or a certain feeling like love or comfort. An idol can be as simple as a mere idea. Like perfection.

Idolatry is a prison cell you don’t know you’re in until the door slams shut and you can’t get away. You are addicted. You’re stuck with no exit plan. And on top of that, when you can’t attain or achieve or satisfy your idol, you feel worthless. Incomplete. Imperfect.

Perfection is dangerous because it is fragile. In a second, that beautiful new iPhone can be dropped and screen smashed… That’s why I’m an Android – it may not be as ‘great’, but it gets the job done without breaking so easily.

Maybe I need to approach life as an Android. Be hardy, tough; get the job done. Maybe it has a couple issues, and doesn’t match the ideal. It’s not sleek and smooth and sophisticated, not the coolest kid on the block. There may be some haters. But I’m not addicted to my Android, as much as I like it. There’s a difference between needing something, and liking it. Striving for it. But not letting it hinder you from experiencing a full life.

I think I’m going to live the Android life.

Rushing to Fail

3 pm

Adrenaline pumping, so much work to get done. Overloaded, brain-fried, hoping to regain focus long enough to write a to-do list before becoming so overwhelmed that all I can manage is to sit in front of the dual screens of my computer, listening to a conference call while answering questions passed on a sticky note, cell phone ringing all the while. A new IM, three high priority emails. New update to the Google Drive. Text. All at once. I jumped out of my skin when a co-worker knocked on the plastic threshold of my cube to get my attention. Chewing gum to keep myself from biting the cuticles around my fingernails. Forgetting more nourishment is needed apart from the <5 calories every two pieces of Eclipse provides. Shake my hands out to restore circulation to ice cold fingers. Neglecting my need to relieve myself. What time is it in New Zealand? Where am I? Wait, which project are you talking about? Yes, another project is due tomorrow afternoon, but this one is due by 11. Oh, tomorrow morning? No, this evening. Get in the zone. DeadMau5 to drown out the conversations all around me. The Civil Wars to calm down. Another phone call. Nearly missed it because of the music playing in my ears. Caffeine. Looming deadline. Worry. Exhaustion setting in. Fatigue. Headache, like a knife being driven into my temple by Thor’s / King Robert’s warhammer.

Go to church. Wednesday night service.

No tears. Not now. It isn’t the time for that. It will only slow you down. Emotions aside, type faster. Clumsy mouse, won’t highlight the right text. Clock ticking. Keyboard clicking. Wait for new parts. Monitoring email. Refresh. New tab, Google Drive. Loading. Nothing new. Just waiting. Waiting. Skype call with boss during service. Later, meeting for church conference.

Go home.

Still haven’t eaten. Open laptop, new files uploaded, multiple emails. Start editing new material. Computer crash.

God, help me.

Plug in charger. Renewed strength for me, energy for my computer. Struggle to organize last responses. Phone call for last part. Keep co-worker on the phone as I submit. Hands shaking with anticipation. Submit. Submit? Submit!

Denied.

Box closed. Window of opportunity slammed shut. Shock. Anger. At myself. Co-worker inquires. What happened? It didn’t go through. Email submission? Yes, email now. No reply, but there’s hope. Literally seconds late…

Still upset at failure. My failure.

Can’t sleep. Devotional. Can’t sleep. Read. Can’t sleep. No sleepin.. …

Wake at 6. Crawl to shower. Wet hair in bun. Forgot caffeine. Drive to work. Swerving. Hit wake up strip on highway. BUZZ BUZZ. ZZRRRRRPPPPP.

Barely awake. Get to work. Start project. Need to finish by 2 pm. Must ship by 2:30.

Waiting for answers from co-workers. No longer frustrated. Just exhausted.

Eat chocolate and Dr. Pepper for breakfast.

Complete submission at 3. Should be delivered on time. Starbucks.

Return to work. Sit. Wait for 5? No, 4. Leave now. Retreat into God’s love, away from busyness and work. No, don’t stay away from life. Go to it. Run to it. Carry God’s name as a banner, declare victory over life through Christ Jesus. Keep peace close to heart.

God, calm my restless spirit. Anxious, stressed spirit. Speak above the noise. Help quiet the noise.

Matthew 11:28-30

“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

I fail, but Jesus bears the weight of the mankind’s failure, our inability to measure up to perfection. I fail. Yet Jesus makes up for every disappointment, letdown, shortcoming. He shuns discouragement. He rejects disillusionment. He replaces my heaviness with peace, rest.

Life happens, sure. But Jesus is always happening. He saves, and saves, and saves again. He never stops. Good thing, because I fail again, and again, and again. That’s my God. He is the God of “always” and “forever.” Eternal peace. I just have to receive it.

Hallelujah. Be encouraged.