I was feeling a little bit sorry for myself the other day until I read Jon Acuff’s Do Over.
No, it didn’t make me feel better; at least, not at first. It made me bawl my eyes out.
Even though Do Over is the only business book to evoke such an emotional response from me, I didn’t enjoy it just for the catharsis it provided me. It’s a fresh perspective on why we work the kinds of jobs that we do, and the choices that we make in the workplace that can advance (or destroy) our careers.
Acuff argues that as a society we’re trained to find jobs instead of pursuing careers. Gone are the days when people found a “good job” and stayed in the same position for twenty-five years. Nowadays it’s common to switch careers up to three times throughout your working life.
So why this sudden shift?
Things like job security and health benefits are still important to most people. But in a world with a growing population and a fluctuating economy, these “good jobs” are fewer and far between. We’re living longer, too, and becoming more educated, so the competition for these jobs is higher. Many are forced to adopt a lower standard or accept a less than ideal position in order to remain employed.
Although much of Do Over is about giving your career a fresh start, what made it so poignant for me was the empathy Acuff expresses for his readers who feel frustrated and stuck in their current positions. And then he gives those readers a swift kick in the pants. It’s our attitudes that are the problem, he explains. No one ever got to exactly where they wanted without hard work and sacrifice. Sometimes it’s about making the best of an opportunity. Through befriending co-workers, finding mentors and developing new skills, you can take what you’ve learned in your current job and adapt it to any future situation, so you can finally start heading in the direction that you want to go.
Is it a challenge? Yes. Is it impossible? No.
And that’s kind of why the book got me in the feels- we’ve all been in situation where we feel stuck, bored or dissatisfied in our jobs. Yes, the purpose of a job is to make money, but there’s a lot to be said for enjoying yourself (even just a little) in the place where you spend most of your waking hours.
Don’t forget, there could be benefits to your job as well besides the money- a great relationship with your co-workers, a sense of autonomy, or a chance to be creative may be the reason you choose to stay in a position, or the reason why you chose a position in the first place.
Even if you’re not looking to make a major career change, I’d still recommend Do Over as a good read after a bad work day, or a bad work week, or if you’re simply just frustrated and in the mood for some wallowing. Acuff’s writing is snappy and humorous but at the end of the day it’s the catharsis I experienced after finishing it that makes Do Over such a good read.
Psst- wanna see which books have previously graced my bookshelves? Click here. Want even more fun reading recommendations? I’ve got some for you here. Don’t forget to find me on Goodreads so we can snoop each other’s bookshelves and dish about our favourites.