8 Things I Learned About Work from The Art of Work

This post may contain affiliate links. See our affiliate disclaimer here.

I said work way too many times in that title, oh well. Happy Monday!

I just finished reading The Art of Work by Jeff Goins. It’s a book about finding your calling and the path to your life’s work. It honestly couldn’t have come at a better time in my life. While I just finished up a 48 state RV road trip, working an hourly wage job in every state, and immediately jumping into a new project, I desperately needed some guidance on how to process the last year of my life.

The Art of Work is a book you have to read if you’re trying to ask the deeper questions in your life. If you’re not satisfied with where your life is headed and want more out of your work, it’s the perfect place for you to go. I started reading it and realized it would be a shame to go through this book without a pen in my hand to mark it all up, so I did exactly that.

IMG_9294

Here are my favorite 8 quotes from the book and what I learned from each of them.

1. “What you do need is the desire and willingness to begin. Only then can you dedicate yourself to the work that is required of you, and only then will you know what it’s worth.”

Most of my life before Hourly America was spent waiting. I knew I wanted to write and eventually publish books, but I felt like my life was a waiting game. I was waiting for my big break and I was waiting for someone to knock on my door and tell me they want to publish the book proposal I’d never written. I was waiting on my life to start instead of getting up and doing something about it. I never could have imagined all the barriers we would have to go through to finish our Hourly America journey. I didn’t know how far I was willing to push myself until I began. I quit my job. I bought an RV. I started my blog. I quit waiting for my life to happen and I made a conscious choice to begin, and my life will never be the same. It all starts with the willingness to begin.

2. “The risk of not committing is greater than the cost of making the wrong choice.”

I’ve always believed your 20’s are more about figuring out what you don’t want to do with your life. There is so much pressure to find a stable job and career, and I never felt encouraged to explore my options. Instead I felt encouraged to make a steady paycheck. However, working a job in every state gave me permission to try new things. It gave me a real idea of what it was like to spend a day in someone else’s shoes. The best part is, I was free to make the wrong choice 48 times about my work and what I want to do for the rest of my life. Now, I don’t see that time as wasted but as 48 things I know I don’t want to do in the future. I’m 48 steps closer than my peers to figuring out my life’s work because I’ve given myself permission to be wrong.

3. “You can’t find your passion, if you don’t push through the pain.”

In Portland, Oregon last summer we had just laid down in bed. It was our third night in a row to sleep in a noisy parking lot. It was hot, really hot. Our AC kept blowing the breaker and we weren’t in the best neighborhood. I wanted so badly to go to an RV park, but we didn’t have the money. I knew we should stay here because it was free, but it hurt my heart because I wished I could pay for a nicer place to stay. Instead of feeling sorry for myself, I stayed up late those nights and wrote one of my more popular blogs- The Honest Truth About Life on the Road. I took advantage of why we were there, a conference called World Domination Summit, and made lasting friendships that I will have for years. It was a painful and uncomfortable moment, but I had my back up against the wall and I knew it. If I wanted to finish our trip I would have to keep writing, keep moving forward, and get through this little amount of pain.

4. “Your job is not to find [mentors], but recognize them when they appear.”

Looking back, since I began my entrepreneurial journey I’ve seen several mentors come in and out of my life. I have never really sought them out intentionally, but when they appear in my life I take advantage. In college, when we had a guest speaker I would always grab them after class and ask if they want to get coffee sometime. I would follow up in email and be respectful of their time. I learned to treat every opportunity like it could make all the difference in my life, because then I would never miss the one that does.

5. “In any vocation, there comes a time when you realize the path you’re on is not taking you where you want to go. All this preparation has culminated in helping you achieve the wrong goal. At those times, you might feel stuck. What do you do then? You do what William Hung finally did. You realize it’s never too late to change and take a turn in the direction of your true calling.”

I’m going to follow this quote with another quote I tell myself often, well it’s not a quote as much as a Chinese proverb. “The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second best time is now.” Three years ago I was set on being a tech entrepreneur. I wanted to start a big company and make a lot of money, like I saw so many others doing in Austin. After actually working in a tech company and watching others around me do the same, I realized I didn’t like it much at all. I no longer had a passion for starting my own company, and felt confused because I had invested so much time towards starting my own business. I could have kept blindly running towards an empty dream, but instead I decided to pivot towards a new dream–becoming a writer. I felt like I was sort of starting over, but looking back I am able to apply a lot of the entrepreneurial things I’ve learned to building my blog, building courses, and making money remotely. I couldn’t be doing what I am doing now if I hadn’t went through that period of my life and decided to pivot.

6. “Relationships take time, as do dreams. They’re full of routines and unexciting work that make them unfit for a movie script but appropriate for real life.”

Yesterday Alyssa and I were driving down the road, talking about our dreams of publishing books. We talked about how we felt like we were really pursuing this dream at full force, like we are really on a path to doing what we want to do with our lives. The funny thing is, Jeff is totally right. Chasing a dream is not a glamorous path. Sometimes I think my life is boring. There is a lot of sitting in front of the computer working, a lot of frustration because I’m not where I want to be, and a lot of telling myself positive reinforcement like, “You can do this Heath. You were born to do this!” But I know this is the path I want to be on, so therefor it’s not boring to me. It’s just a necessary part of fulfilling my dream.

7. “Sometimes a calling isn’t a means to a more comfortable life. Sometimes we don’t pivot in the direction of personal success but towards even greater pain. But here’s the catch: a calling will always lead you to a life that matters, one you can be proud of.”

I don’t think anyone has ever pursued a dream from a very comfortable place. I don’t believe comfort and meaning can co-exist. I live in an RV, our bathroom is small and dingy, and right now we are climbing our way out of debt. Some days I wish I had a nice cozy house to lay my head at night, but other days I’m grateful for our 20 year old RV. Why? Because it fuels me! It motivates me to keep moving forward in every area of my life! I can’t sit still, I don’t need to take a day off because each time I work a little harder, it means a better future for my new bride and I. It’s not comfortable, but it sure beats boring.

8. “Having my wife by my side taught me that as important as dreaming is, an unshared dream is only a fantasy, an illusion. What makes the journey of vocation worthwhile is having someone to share your passion with. In my case, as a writer, without someone to support my work, the words I write start to become meaningless.”

At one particularly low point in our trip, money was tight, and stress levels were high. We thought we were going to have to launch a Kickstarter to keep going and to make it happen I was wearing myself down editing videos, driving to 3 states a week where I was working 3 different jobs, writing 3-4 blogs a week, and it was too much, way too much. It all culminated in a big fight one day with Alyssa, and I realized the work wasn’t worth it. I made a choice to put aside the Kickstarter and editing, and instead enjoy what was left of my time on the road with my wife. A mentor offered a consulting job to me that more than helped us finish our trip and everything worked out fine, despite the hours I spent stressing. This hiccup taught me that it was impossible for me to succeed at anything without first succeeding in my marriage.


Jeff’s book The Art of Work is available now for FREE if you go to his site here at artofworkbook.com. It’s pretty crazy that you can pick it up for free, and I absolutely recommend you doing it.

This is my fifth book of 2015 to read so far, and I plan on keeping my reading list more up to date. Other books I’ve read this year:

1) Re-Awaken the Giant Within– Tony Robbins
2) My First 1,000 Copies– Tim Grahl
3) The Miracle Morning– Hal Elrod
4) Launch– Jeff Walker

And I’m currently reading In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan, I have a goal this year to read 20 books and to make at least a couple of them health and fitness related.

What’s on your reading list for this year?