Life Dreams, Work & Discovering Your Calling: An Interview with Jeff Goins

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.

For more great advice from Jeff Goins about finding and living your calling, check out his blog at:

From Bucket List Wish to Legacy: A Review of the new book The Art of Work

ArtofWorkRecently I had the opportunity to read an early copy of a new book by Jeff Goins called The Art of Work (coming out next week, March 24th). I have followed Goins’s writing for the past few years, but what impressed me about this book was how well it dovetails with the concepts in my book, Bucket List Living For Moms. For any mom looking to reshape her work life or find a new career, The Art of Work makes the perfect companion to Bucket List Living For Moms.

In it, Goins emphasizes the need to listen to your life for cues about your purpose and calling, a process familiar to readers of Bucket List Living. “The trick is to find your vocation hidden in your life,” Goins says. He goes on to outline the stages involved in finding and fulfilling that vocation, with examples from the stories of how others worked through these stages in identifying their callings.

What readers will find most helpful about The Art of Work are the chapters about how to progress toward turning your aspirations into a lifelong legacy. As Goins notes, “A calling is not merely a moment; it’s a lifestyle, a constant progression of submitting to a larger purpose.”

Use the questions from Bucket List Living For Moms to explore your personal calling and create your unique bucket list of dreams. Then read The Art of Work for a road map to turning some of your bucket list goals and longings into a purposeful work life and meaningful legacy.

Right now Jeff Goins is offering a free paperback copy of The Art of Work. Simply subscribe to his email list and pay $6.99 shipping. You will receive the book, along with a pdf copy, video mini-course and more. Learn about his offer here (note: this is a limited time offer and will probably disappear once the book officially releases on March 24th).

Because of its value in helping chart a fulfilling work life, where vocation and bucket list converge, I have also added The Art of Work to my list of Books & Magazine for Bucket List Living. Check it out for other great works to inspire you in making your bucket list dreams a reality.

Back to School Book Review: A Textbook for Moms & Dads

The Christian Parenting HandbookAlmost every new parent wishes their baby came with a manual. Thankfully, as steep as the learning curve feels at the time, those early days and weeks of parenthood are relatively simple. It’s mostly a matter of learning what your baby’s cries mean, how to get him to sleep, when to feed, and how to change a diaper (of course, notice that I said “simple” not easy).

However, as your baby grows and becomes a toddler and then a preschooler, gradeschooler, and one day a teen, the challenges grow with him. And the desire for a manual becomes greater.

Enter The Christian Parenting Handbook: 50 Heart-Based Strategies for All the Stages of Your Child’s Life. While it doesn’t address every situation (like what age should you buy your child a cell phone), it does give great guidance on some of the most critical issues in parenting – in particular, how to guide your child’s attitudes and heart and not just his behavior.

My husband & I took a parenting class when our children were young. It equipped us with a solid foundation and philosophy for parenting. And in the years since, I’ve gained a lot of support and coaching through a mom’s group affiliated with the parenting curriculum. So I could have brushed off The Christian Parenting Handbook figuring I’d already gained all I needed. But I’m glad I didn’t.

Turansky & Miller’s book echoes much of what I had already learned, but in different words and targeted to situations I hadn’t considered. I had previously read (and loved) their book, Say Goodbye to Whining, Complaining, and Bad Attitudes… in You and Your Kids. So some of the material was familiar. But since I’m in a new phase of parenting with my eldest entering high school, even the overlapping ideas felt fresh and useful.

Like any good manual or handbook, the 50 brief chapters make this a book you can pick up at will and browse for the topic you need. You could try to read it cover to cover, but it really is meant to be ingested in small bits at a time. Each chapter is packed with tools and tips that address small slices of parenting and family life. It’s worthwhile to just take one chapter, read it, absorb it, and apply it before moving on to another. I’m not sure if it’s easy to find an answer to a particular problem – the ARC I received as a reviewer for Faith Village didn’t contain the index. But it still is a book I will refer to over and over and will flip through for an answer. Even just today I gained some insight on how I can change my approach to sibling spats.

What I love best is that Turansky & Miller don’t prescribe a set methodology for parenting. They acknowledge that every family is different and so is every child, thus the need to adjust approaches appropriately. They offer sound thinking and philosophy, based on the Scriptures (hence “Christian” in the title) from which parents can tailor their approach.

So while Turansky & Miller’s advice isn’t earthshaking – several other authors share many of the same sentiments, I highly recommend this book for any Christian parent. The wording is fresh, the chapters are brief, and it probably offers enough of an answer to any challenge you face with your kids to make you feel equipped and encouraged in the next step you’ll take. It may just be the parenting manual you always wished you had.

What if You Could Succeed More By Changing Your Attitude?

As a child I admired those with talent. Nadia Comaneci was my hero for her amazing abilities as a gymnast. Marie Curie’s story stuck with me for her example of what one woman could do for science. Young violin and piano prodigies captivated me with their skill.

At first these gifted people inspired me. I would practice piano with a new zeal… for a few weeks. I ‘d walk an imaginary balance beam in my back yard, pretending I faced off against Olympic greats. Yet I quit once I finished one round of gymnastics class, even though I loved the uneven parallel bars. After breaking my school’s freshman record for the 400m run, I switched from track to soccer, where I performed only at an average level.

After a while I stopped being inspired by others’ accomplishments and instead found myself depressed by them. I felt like I’d never advance above mediocrity. I was afraid to fail. And I believed I had no talent, no innate skill.

In a word, I had the wrong mindset.

Mindset: The New Psychology of SuccessIn her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, researcher Carol Dweck defines the mindset I had (a fixed mindset) and compares it with that held by the most successful people, those who sustained success over time and in the face of adversity. Those folks have what she describes as a “growth mindset.” A fixed mindset believes that abilities are innate and are, for the most part, set. On the other hand, a growth mindset approaches everything with an attitude of learning and development.

Before I read Dweck’s book I had already undergone a change in thinking. In recent years I learned to embrace failure and pushed myself to take risks in areas where I wanted to excel. I am excited again about learning and I find my heroes’ stories inspiring again. I’ve adopted some of the best of the growth mindset. But I still have much to learn – as an individual, but especially as a parent.

For example, labeling kids as “smart” or “gifted” gets in the way of a growth mindset. Praising ability instead of effort stunts success. As Dweck says, “After seven experiments with hundreds of children, we had some of the clearest findings I’ve ever seen: Praising children’s intelligence harms their motivation and it harms their performance… It really does give them a boost, a special glow—but only for the moment. The minute they hit a snag, their confidence goes out the window and their motivation hits rock bottom. If success means they’re smart, then failure means they’re dumb.”

If our families are to truly enjoy the bucket list life and find our way to marking off some of our loftier dreams, we need to keep a growth mindset in focus. In Family Bucket Lists I recommend celebrating intermediate steps to bigger goals. But I would also say that part of the process should include talking with your kids about what you learn along the way. Look at how your bucket list experiences are shaping you. Value the growth you experience from tackling them – together and individually.

For any family pursuing the bucket list life I highly recommend this book. For our part, we have committed to enrolling our two eldest in Dweck’s growth mindset-promoting course, Brainology. I want to see them succeed like my heroes and theirs. But more than that, I want them to have fun and grow along the way. That is more valuable than an Olympic gold, Nobel prize, or Carnegie Hall performance.

Celebrating a New Book

I’m so excited for my friend, Sharla Fritz. I’ve had the privilege of seeing her new book, Bless These Lips, come together chapter by chapter in our local writer’s group. This week she’s been celebrating the launch of the book (with a fun giveaway – check out the details below) and today is my turn to host her here. But before we talk to Sharla, I want to tell you why I think you should read her book:

Bless These Lips

New from Concordia Press, Bless These Lips

Do you ever say something and then wish you could take it back? Or maybe you don’t realize what you’re saying or how it’s being taken until later – and then it’s too late. Do you wish you could think of an encouraging thing to say more often? That’s where Sharla’s book can help. She gently offers instruction – from her life and from the Bible – on how to have a winning way with your words. I’ll let Sharla tell you more, but from my perspective, Bless These Lips is a great daily tool for getting a better handle on what comes out of your mouth.

To win a great prize package leave a comment at the main launch host site: (you can leave a comment here too, it just won’t be entered for the prize).

The prize package includes:

  • a signed copy of Bless These Lips
  • a pretty cosmetic bag with lip balm, lip liner, and lipstick
  • a handmade bookmark
  • a $15 Amazon gift card
  • a framed print of a quote from the book “God has given you a unique mission to speak His words of love and grace to a lost and discouraged world.”

Let’s talk to Sharla and learn more about her and her new book:

1)      Why did God prompt you to write this book?

I began writing Bless These Lips because I was the one who needed a Mouth Makeover! I always seemed to be putting my foot in my mouth and I was tired of the steady diet of sock lint and shoe leather. I wanted my words to be the kind that built other people up, but instead I often used ones that tore them down.

So I studied what the Bible had to say about our words and read other books about interpersonal communication. I learned so much and decided to share how each of us can make a difference in our worlds through what we say.

2)      In your own words, what is a “mouth makeover?”

A mouth makeover could be a visit to the cosmetics counter where you walk away with multiple layers of lip liner, lipstick, and lip gloss. You’ll look fabulous for awhile, but that mouth makeover only lasts until your next cup of coffee.

A true mouth makeover is a transformation of your speech. This Mouth Makeover begins with God’s grace and forgiveness as He scrubs off the guilt of our harmful words. The makeover continues with the use of the Lip Balm of Encouragement, the Lip Liner of Truth, and the Lip Gloss of Thankfulness. This type of mouth makeover can last eternally as God enables us to use our words to share His grace.

3)      I think everyone can relate to struggling with what come out of their mouths. How could doing this study help?

How true! As women we love to talk—and so our mouths often get us into trouble! Ann Landers has a great quote, “The trouble with talking too fast is that you may something you haven’t thought of yet.”

Recognizing our love of words, this study approaches the topic with a sense of humor and combines it with fun lip product analogies. First you’ll assess whether you’ve been wearing the shades of Motormouth Mocha or Foot-in-Mouth Fuchsia too often. As you go through the study you’ll learn to wear the Shade of Grace and the Lip Sealer of Discretion more consistently.

4)      Who will take the most away from this book?

I think anyone who wants to have more control over her words and anyone who wants to make a difference in her world would benefit from this book.

Often we think we need to do something monumental to change our world. But while I was pursuing my own Mouth Makeover, God showed me that I can make a difference by simply noticing hurting people in my life and offering words of kindness and encouragement. We can all change the lives we touch every day by simply providing a caring word or a listening ear.

5)      What one thing should potential readers know about this book?

The most important message I would like readers to take away from this book is: God has given each of us a unique mission to speak His words of love and grace to a lost and discouraged world.

We may sometimes question the purpose of our lives, but God has placed each one of us in a strategic place in time and space to be able to use our words to bring others closer to Him. When I keep that in mind, it changes my heart and what comes out of my mouth.

6)      Tell everyone a little more about yourself.

I’m a Christian speaker and author who loves to communicate the truth of God’s transforming grace. My first book Divine Design leads women to a spiritual makeover.

Sharla Fritz

My friend, author Sharla Fritz

I live in the Chicago suburbs with my amazing, amusing husband. Together we shared the adventure of homeschooling for 15 years with our two children. They are all grown up now and live an average of 3500 miles away. Our son lives nearby, but our daughter and her husband live in China (and they had the audacity to take our grandchildren with them!)

In my other life I am a church musician and piano teacher. I love traveling (especially to China!), going out to lunch with friends, and reading. If I’m not sitting at the piano or my computer you might find me at the thrift store stalking fabulous fashion finds.

6)      Anything else you’d like to share about this book?

This book shares stories of my own struggles with my mouth, but it is also an in-depth Bible study. When I began my quest for a Mouth Makeover I was amazed at how much God had to say on the subject. In the book of Proverbs alone there are 108 verses on our lips, mouths, and tongues! God thinks our words are important.

Bless These Lips

Oops. A mouth mishap. The words just slipped out, and there is no taking them back.
Words are powerful. They can build up or tear down. They can affirm and teach or criticize and condemn.

By God’s grace, a mouth makeover can improve our relationships and affect our attitude toward life. Our words can enrich our connection to God as we spend more time in prayer and praise. Most important, God desires that we use the gift of speech to give Him praise, encourage others, and verbalize our faith in Christ as Lord and Savior.

Bless These Lips: 40 Days of Spiritual Renewal examines things we say that get in the way of our relationships with God and with others. Each chapter draws on lip product analogies and uses humor, anecdotes, and observations to introduce Scripture passages that address common behaviors and attitudes. And each day’s reading includes Bible study questions and suggestions for personal reflection.

Bless These Lips is divided into eight weeks of study with each week having five days of readings and Bible study questions. It can be used for individual study, but would be even more fun to do with a group of gabby girlfriends!

7)      Tell everyone a little more about yourself.

I’m a Christian speaker and author who loves to communicate the truth of God’s transforming grace. My first book Divine Design leads women to a spiritual makeover.

I live in the Chicago suburbs with my amazing, amusing husband. Together we shared the adventure of homeschooling for 15 years with our two children. They are all grown up now and live an average of 3500 miles away. Our son lives nearby, but our daughter and her husband live in China (and they had the audacity to take our grandchildren with them!)

In my other life I am a church musician and piano teacher. I love traveling (especially to China!), going out to lunch with friends, and reading. If I’m not sitting at the piano or my computer you might find me at the thrift store stalking fabulous fashion finds.

You can connect with Sharla at:




Remember to go leave a comment at to be entered in the giveaway.