Is it Time for a Do Over? (Book Review)

do overAt some point in your life, there’s going to come a time when you’re dissatisfied with your current job. It might not be today or even tomorrow. But it’s going to happen. In fact, seven out of ten people in a recent Gallup poll said something to this effect.

Jon Acuff wants you to understand that there are ways to fix this problem. There are ways to make Monday a great day instead of one that is dreaded. There are ways to avoid being stuck. There are ways to reinvent work. His latest book, Do Over, is an eye-opening look at what it takes to change work into something different–something better.

The first chapter is good enough to be a separate book of its own. Acuff shares that we control more than we think, then introduces a concept called a Career Savings Account. Just as it’s important to begin saving early so one is prepared for anything that comes up, a CSA allows a person to draw upon their current and past relationships, skill set, and character to help navigate career changes. Not every job situation is the same, but Acuff classifies them into four main categories:

* A Career Ceiling – This is when a person has climbed the ladder as high as they can at a job; they need to invest in skills to bust the ceiling wide open.
* A Career Bump – This is when a person loses their job for some reason or discovers they’re in a crowded job market; they need to fall back on their relationships to get them to the next step.
* A Career Jump – This is when a person has the opportunity to takes steps to further their career, be it a new title or through training; they need to make sure their character is where it needs to be to satisfactorily make the transition.
* A Career Opportunity – This is exactly what it sounds like; a person needs to hustle (defined as working hard) to have the chance to take the next step.

The rest of the book is an opportunity for Acuff to break down each of these categories and encourage people who are in each of these specific situations (again, that’s 70% of folks). He succeeds at this through a combination of realistic goal setting, challenges, and good-natured humor.  In addition, Acuff manages to keep notecard manufacturers busy for the next year or so–you’re going to need a pack or two by the end of the book. (Come to think of it, perhaps a free pack of notecards should be provided with future editions of Do Over.)

Will you be challenged by Acuff’s book?  I’m pretty confident you will.  I was reminded many times to take advantage of my current and past contacts to propel me in the event that I need to make a career transition. Everyone needs friends along the way, but they also need advocates who are willing to go to bat for them. It’s also never too late to work on new skills–both job related and in the form of a hobby.

However, my biggest takeaway was a reminder to never give up and to hustle when the time calls for it. Working hard is important, but no job is always fun to do (as a side note, Acuff wants people to have fun too–after all, who wants to simply sludge through life day after day?). That’s when being flexible, having awareness about the situation, and gritting out the tough parts of work pay dividends in the long run. It’s like the man in Matthew 7 who chose to build his house on a foundation of rock instead of sand. Sure, it took longer to find the right place and do the things that weren’t fun (such as caulking the bathtub), but the end result was that his house survived the storm that other dwellings built on the sand didn’t.

I’m certain that Do Over is going to be a book that will challenge people to become better than they are at both work and life while providing them courage to defeat fear in a staring contest.

Is it time to declare a Do Over in your life? If so, you should run to the nearest bookstore (in real time or online) and pick up a copy. It could be the best investment you make this year.

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