Book Review: Start by Jon Acuff
“Joy is an incredible alarm clock”-Jon Acuff, from Start.
I’m kind of jealous, because Jon Acuff wrote this book before I got the chance to.
I found myself turning each page and saying to myself, “TOTALLY, this is what I’m always saying. YES, I believe this too. OH MAN, he’s completely on track with this!”
To give background to Jon, he is known as funny writer who started out publishing satirical blogs about Christians and has now moved on to write about life and careers (I plan on reading his previous book, Quitter, sometime soon). Some of his spiritual beliefs tie into the book, but it is not overwhelming. I love Jesus, but as someone who is open-minded and wants to provide information for all people, no matter religion, political beliefs, etc, I appreciate that the tone is overwhelmingly uplifting without being overwhelmingly Christian-focused.
Jon uses personal stories to highlight lessons that he has learned about fear, career, and “gettin' into gear”, so you know I was immediately hooked. He has the word “awesome” in his tagline; it was a no-brainer for me. Jon focuses on how we constantly desire to live better, more fulfilling lives and yet we settle for average. He does a great job in classifying how to live an awesome life in terms of age; from 20s-60s. Sure, this is a far-reaching assumption that we all go through the same types of lessons in each decade of our lives, but as Jon explains, we can shift from one stage to the next and back and forth. Essentially, he attempts to set a general continuum for living an awesome life, but it is up to the individual to decide what their journey will look like.
I was so drawn to this book as Jon investigates and exposes the sadness and emptiness of living an average life. As a lifestyle revolutionist, this is the obstacle I hear most from my clients. Their hearts long for a more true, a more awesome life, yet they live day-to-day in a mummified state of fear, boredom, and sense of unworthiness. Jon explains,
“Average is so popular because average is familiar. We all know how to do average. Ninety-nine percent of the people on the planet do average. The road is well worn, the decisions are obvious, and the next steps are crystal clear.”
So what the heck does Jon suggest we do to get started on living a more awesome life?
He suggests that we all should be in, what I call “learning-mode” at all times because in this mode we will recognize the clues to our more awesome lives. Essentially, we have to be willing and open to learn about ourselves, and sometimes this stinks. Becoming self-aware is hard because along with the good stuff comes the icky truths that we try to keep under wraps. Jon describes our self-awareness as clues. Think about the things that you’ve been drawn to in your life, the ones that set your heart on fire. I work with my clients to remember the things that they love and the dreams that they’ve given up on. These things. You know these things don't you? These are clues to your awesome life. As Jon says,
“The clues are the gingerbread trail leading to your definition of awesome.”
That's great info. Now what?
One thing that really irks me about most self-help books are that they generally give tons of great info and research, tell you what you should do, but don’t give you the efficacy to do it. This book is different. Jon gives a whole appendix of ways to “accelerate your awesome”. The exercises and questions remind me of coaching exercises and I believe that if you are interested in changing your life, you will definitely get some good stuff out of doing them. These resources ring true for Jon’s main theme of “anyone can achieve awesome, but simply starting is perhaps the thing that prevents us from actually living it out.”
Jon is a little too goofy and somewhat corny for my taste in his writing, but I recognize that most people find it endearing. I do, however, believe that he and I could chat for hours about living out awesomeness, obstacles that prevent most people from doing so, how to help people overcome these obstacles, and the wonder/awesomeness that is the true JOY of living an awesome life. I would completely recommend this book and not just for people who are seeking better careers; Jon’s words can be used to overcome the fear stopping you from achieving any goal: weight loss, strengthening relationships, time-management, etc.
The most poignant part of the book, to me, is when Jon reveals the question that we all need to be asking ourselves in this crazy thing called life:
“What gives you the most joy?”
YES! THIS. Follow this. Do this. Live this.
Have you read Start? Or Quitter? I want to hear from you; comment below!
Rhonda Hale Warren is a Life Consultant, Coach, and Lifestyle Revolutionist specializing in helping dynamic women get their “awesome” back. Connect with her via Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and at www.rhondahw.com