Last week I had the privilege of interviewing Jeff Goins, author of the new book The Art of Work, about work, calling and bucket lists. I have followed Jeff since his first e-book The Writer’s Manifesto in which he sets forth the mindset for embracing the calling of being a writer. His other (awesome) books are Wrecked, The In-Between, and You Are a Writer.
Here’s what Jeff had to say:
How did you come to focus on this idea of “calling” that you emphasize in The Art of Work?
Through personal experience. At 28 I felt like I should know more. I kept asking, “Is this as good as it gets?” Why weren’t my job and marriage good enough? I kept thinking I was missing out on something.
And then I began to take writing more seriously. I wrote a blog. I published books. And finally I moved to writing full time and supporting my family with my writing two years ago.
You say in the book, “Most people waste the best years of their life waiting for an adventure to come to them instead of going out and finding one.” That sounds risky. What do you say to parents who live in the tension of wanting safety and security for their family, but knowing finding and following their calling involves risk?
Be honest with yourself. There is risk in jumping out and doing something. But there is also risk in staying comfortable. Ask yourself, “What will happen if I don’t do this?” Maybe nothing.
The greater question is: what creates discomfort for you? Doing and failing? Or not trying?
I love how you talk about “listening to your life” when it comes to discovering your calling. What do you think makes this process so powerful?
We are unaware of our own lives. Awareness is a practice. We deepen that practice through paying attention.
We tend to look at our lives not as stories, but as scenes. We think, how do I get through this week, this day, etc. We look from scene to scene or moment to moment. And we miss the big picture story our lives are telling.
But if my life is a story, then I can ask, what genre is it? What is the conflict in my life’s story? Who are the characters?
The concept of a “portfolio mindset” in The Art of Work sounds like a great format for parents who want to be “present” for their kids, yet fulfill their own life purpose. How does that work?
It’s messy. You have to be careful. Don’t assume your calling is just work. A calling is deeper than that. The fact that I’m a dad colors and gives context to my calling.
Some things won’t get done. But a calling is more complementary to life than competitive.
So what is on your bucket list?
To go to South America. Skydive. Write a novel.
And I would love to take my son to Europe for a few weeks to expose him to the culture there – before he is in middle school.
I have travelled by myself and with people. It’s easier by yourself, but at the end of the journey there is an emptiness. You did cool stuff, but there is nobody to share that with.
There’s nothing like walking over a bridge in Venice and getting to share that with my wife. The same is true for your calling.