The Art Of Work

by Jeff Goins

Troy Shu
Troy Shu
Updated at: February 23, 2024
 4 min read
The Art Of Work
The Art Of Work

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What are the big ideas?

  1. Life becomes meaningful when we see hard times as chances to grow and make our stories important.
  2. True happiness is found by seeking a deeper purpose, even if it means facing tough times and putting aside personal desires.
  3. Understanding what you're meant to do in life comes from taking action and learning from your experiences.
  4. Balancing different kinds of work, like paid jobs, hobbies, learning, and volunteering, leads to a more satisfying life.
  5. Achieving your dreams is a journey of listening to your inner voice, acting humbly, taking steps forward, and starting to believe in yourself.


Transforming Challenges into Opportunities for Growth and Meaning

  • “Maybe we all have the power to turn our lives into significant stories if we start to see our difficulties as opportunities.”
  • “[Victor Frankl] learned there are three things that give meaning to life: first, a project; second, a significant relationship; and third, a redemptive view of suffering.”

The Journey to Finding and Embracing One's True Calling

  • “What we all want is to know our time on earth has meant something. We can distract ourselves with pleasure for only so long before beginning to wonder what the point is. This means if we want true satisfaction, we have to rise above the pettiness of our own desires and do what is required of us. A calling comes when we embrace the pain, not avoid it.”
  • “In any great narrative, there is a moment when a character must decide to become more than a bystander.”
  • “Most people waste the best years of their life waiting for an adventure to come to them instead of going out and finding one.”

The Evolutionary Process of Discovering One's Life Work

  • “And they learned, as you might, an important lesson: clarity comes with action.”
  • “A calling is what you have when you look back at your life and make sense of what it’s been trying to teach you all along.”
  • “Every single thing that has ever happened in your life is preparing you for a moment that is yet to come. —UNKNOWN”

Embracing a Diverse Portfolio of Work for a Balanced Life

  • “The basic idea of a portfolio life is that instead of thinking of your work as a monolithic activity, what if you chose to see it as the complex group of interests, passions, and activities it is?”
  • “Fee and salary work are the only types of paid work and are somewhat self-explanatory: fee work means trading hours for dollars and a salary is a fixed income based on a job description.”
  • “Homework is work that you do at home, like mowing the lawn or spending time with your family. Study work is any intentional education that contributes to any work you do in the future, like reading a book or taking a vocational class. And gift work is any volunteer experience you might do, including giving your time to a local homeless shelter or even taking someone out to lunch to give them helpful career advice.”

The Importance of Humility and Action in Realizing Dreams

  • “Any great discovery, especially that of your life’s work, is never a single moment. In fact, epiphany is an evolutionary process; it happens in stages.”
  • “First, you hear the call. It may sound different to each person, but it comes to us all.”
  • “Humility is a prerequisite for epiphany.”
  • “Second, you respond. Mere words will not suffice—you must act.”
  • “Third, you begin to believe.”


  1. How can I view my current challenges as opportunities to create a meaningful story in my life?
  2. In what ways can a project, relationship, or understanding suffering bring meaning to my life?
  3. What steps can I take to actively seek out my true calling rather than waiting for it to come to me?
  4. How have I responded to moments in my life that required me to be more than a bystander?
  5. What actions can I take to gain clarity about my life's work and calling?
  6. How can I balance my work life with personal interests, education, and volunteering for a more fulfilling experience?
  7. What role does humility play in my journey towards realizing my dreams and life's work?
  8. How can I actively respond to life's callings and start believing in my potential to achieve them?

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