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

Keep Your Day Job

When you keep your day job, all opportunities become surplus propositions rather than deficit remedies. You only have to take the ones that suit your dream best. Want to stay dangerous with your dream? Want to make some real progress? Don't quit your day job. Not yet.

Quitting a job doesn't jump-start a dream because dreams take planning, purpose and progress to succeed. That stuff has to happen before you quit your day job. Often it should occur months and even years before. You've probably heard the axiom "Success always comes when preparation meets opportunity." It's true, and the opportunity to quit your job will always be there. The real question is whether you've prepared.

Discipline begets discipline. When you step up to a challenge before you, your ramped-up resources rub off on other areas of your life. You wouldn't think eating less "fat" would impact how closely you monitor your family's financial budget, but it's all tied together. Discipline and focus are contagious and they tend to spread their benefits all around. Unfortunately this works both ways. Men need a project and some progress at all times.

Want to learn how to be dedicated and focused on your dream? Practice being dedicated and focused at work. Want to give your dream the best shot of success? Learn how to be successful at work.

Rediscovering Your Passion

More often than not, finding out what you love doing most is about recovering an old love or an inescapable truth that has been silenced for years, even decades. When you come to your dream job, your thing, it is rarely a first encounter. It's usually a reunion.

You don't ask the bottomless, "What do I want to do with my life?" but instead, "What have I done in my life that I loved doing?" Instead of a million different options from out there, you're suddenly left with a manageable handful of options from within your own experience.

  1. What do I love enough to do for free?

  2. What do I do that causes time to feel different?

  3. What do I enjoy doing regardless of the opinions of other people?

  4. If only your life changed, would that be enough? If you killed yourself for years creating something and at the end of the experience, the only life that had changed was your own, would that be rewarding enough? If the experience was the lesson and the journey itself was the reward, would that be okay with you? Is there something that holds that sway for you?

  5. Are there any patterns in the things you like doing?

The Problem With Perfection

90 percent perfect and shared with the world always changes more lives than 100 percent perfect and stuck in your head. The things you create and share will always out-perform the things that stay stuck in your head or your desk or your laptop.

Quit perfect. It's an unnecessary obstacle. Chase the idea of your dream being better finished at 90 percent than perfect and not pursued.

Discussing whether or not to create something each day is exhausting. Each time you lose, it gets a little harder to win next time. So decide once. And then just do it.

You have the perfect amount of time each day for the things that matter most. The key is spending time on those things.

I know sometimes it's scary to think that you might do the wrong thing. It's terrifying to imagine wasting your "one shot." But let me assure you, nothing you do will be wasted. Every decision you make, every path you take, has the ability to contribute something you need to succeed at your dream.

Falling in Like With a Job You Don't Love

If you're patient and deliberate, your day job can become a wonderful platform from which you can launch your dream job. If you demonize your day job though and rail against it, it becomes a prison you'll try to escape from. And prison breaks rarely go well for anyone.

We are whole people and can't separate ourselves into "buckets." That's the biggest reason it's critical you work hard at your day job. You're not just working; you're practicing for your dream. Even if they're completely unrelated, and I'm not sure they are, the effort you invest in work will return big dividends to your dream.

Look for the parallels between your day job and your dream job. Find a way to see how your dream's purpose can improve your job performance.

The Plan Myth

Don't let the Plan Myth paralyze you. A plan is not the first thing you need. Often, it is the third. The first thing you need is a passion. The second thing you need is practice. You need to try what you're interested in. You need to dip your foot in the water. You need to visit stores like the one you want to open. You need to read blogs like the one you want to start. You need to explore and test the waters. When asked about the secret of his success, Warren Buffett, the third-richest man on the planet said, "There's no place where we turned the switch. So much happens by accident. It does show the value of showing up every day." After you've identified your dream and made a habit of showing up every day, then you can start detailing your plan.

Start small. Start slow. Get better along the way. And enjoy the gift of making many of your early mistakes without a major audience. Being out of the public eye is the perfect opportunity for you to get better at what you do before you go really big.


"Hustle isn't just doing the things you love all the time. Hustle is doing the things you don't enjoy sometimes to earn the right to do the things you love."

Before your day job gets started in the morning is still the best time to hustle on your dream job. Why? The excuses haven't really woken up yet. They're still snoring. You can beat your fears to task and get an hour or two of dream time before your obstacles even know what happened. If you wait until night to work on your dream, you will often spend the whole day gathering up material for excuses on why you shouldn't do what it is you feel called to do.

There's a great sense of joy that comes from accomplishing something that moves you closer to your dream job. There's a sense that regardless of what the day brings, you started with the work you love. You started by doing what matters to you most. That sense of joy and contentment can make the rest of your day even better. Even if you're a night owl, I'm not sure the same can be said of working on your dream strictly at night. Sleeping tends to reset that good feeling. You might fall asleep with a sense of accomplishment, but it usually won't carry into the next day or fuel you as you work your day job.

When you get busy doing the things that matter to you, you actually have more time to do the things you love and less time to do the things you like. Working on your dream job and your day job forces you to decide which things are a priority to you. It forces you to make a like vs. love list. Because you won't have as much time for the things you like. That's one of the simple rules of hustle. Do more of the things you love and less of the things you like. Make your hustle matter.

Quantity and Quality

Quantity leads to quality. The more you practice your dream, the better you get at your dream. Putting quantity first gives you the freedom to be patient with yourself. "This is the quantity portion of my dream. This is exactly where I'm supposed to be. These aren't mistakes I'm making, these are quantity payments. I'll get to quality, but first I have to pay the cost of quantity."

Three Things I Learned About Giving Away Stuff For Free in the Last Three Years:

  1. People won't pay for what they can get for free. You have to change it, add to it, improve and in some way differentiate it if you're going to charge for it.

  2. You have to weigh the long-term benefits of doing something for free. As you face free-versus-charge decisions, do your best to weigh out the true cost of the money you might make. Is there a big potential long-term gain that could be ruined by your short-term gain? Is this a situation where you are undervaluing your dream and need to charge, or is it a chance to do something for free that might turn into something much bigger?

  3. Free pays dividends toward expertise. We sometimes lose sight of what we gain when we give our dream away. Practice. Exposure. Audience. And eventually expertise.

The Beauties and Dangers of Competition

Competition is a great motivator but a horrible measurement. There are times when looking at your competition will inspire you and encourage you. It's like going to a library of active projects. That's the beautiful potential of competition. Motivation. But there is also a poison you have to be wary of: using competition as a form of measurement. Pitting your dream against someone else's is a fantastic way to get discouraged and depressed. Nothing good comes from measuring your dream against your competition.

Then what should you measure? Measure hustle first. I think measuring the effort you're putting in is a much more honest gauge of your progress. It's also the only part of this process you can really control.

Learn to Be Successful at Success

Relationships take time and if you don't feed them they tend to die.

Burn your dream bright. Pursue it with the best of who you are. But don't confuse hustle with burnout. Hustle fills you up. Burnout empties you. Hustle renews your energy. Burnout drains it. Hustle impacts every other aspect of your life in a positive way as you learn to prioritize the things that matter. Burnout impacts every other aspect of your life in a negative way as your dream becomes the only thing that matters.

A platform is the spot you dream from. It's your blog, your audience, your readers, your shoppers, as Godin would say, "your tribe." If you're afraid to share the platform with someone else, you'll eventually be afraid to leave it at all. And that's really the definition of a prison, a place you can't leave. Not only will you become a convict of your dream; when you refuse to share it, you guarantee that your dream will begin and end with you.

Don't say yes to the wrong opportunities. How? By asking a simple question when you face new opportunities: "If I say yes to this opportunity and am successful at it, what will be the long-term outcome?" The reward of getting really good at something less significant than your real dream is that you get to do it more often. That's not a reward; that's a punishment. The goal of this entire book is to lead you into doing more of what you love doing, or precisely the opposite of what will happen if you're successful at doing stuff you don't love.

Quit Your Day Job

Whenever possible, before you quit make a point of practicing what you want to do with your life.

If you do quit your day job for a dream job, try your best to have some pre-established ground rules to live by. Think ahead to what you're planning to do and make some rules then. It's so much harder to do this when you're in the trenches.