1-Sentence-Summary: Born For This shows you how to find the work you were meant to do, which actually might consist of many different forms of work over the course of your life, by showing you the power of a side hustle, proper risk-assessment, creating your own job and pursuing all of your passions – one at a time.
Read in: 4 minutes
Favorite quote from the author:
Chris Guillebeau’s life must feel like one big birthday party for a 12-year old. There’s a bouncy castle, a huge buffet, lots of cake, a waterslide, a magic show and of course a ton of party games to choose from. You might switch from one station to the next, but it’d never get boring.
All of Chris’s books and projects seem to me like they’re one of these birthday games – Chris just has a ton of fun, which he spills all over these things so it ends up right with you and me, the reader.
This time, he shows us how he managed to turn this big birthday party of his into something that pays the bills. If The Happiness of Pursuit shows you how to spend your life, Born For This shows you how to pay for it.
Here are 3 lessons to help you find the work you’re meant to do:
- Come up with if-then sketches to deal with risks and feel more confident.
- Kickstart your side hustle with a 100 People Project.
- Your life isn’t a math problem – be okay with switching passions.
Don’t know what you were born for yet? No sweat, we’ll find out together!
Lesson 1: Create a set of if-then sketches as fallback plans so you’ll sweat risks less and feel more confident.
A popular technique in books that encourage you to start your own business is visualizing your worst-case scenario. Imagining your world when everything that could possibly go wrong would often makes you realize that it wouldn’t be so bad and that you’d likely be able to recover. This feels reassuring and makes it easier to take the next step.
In Born For This, Chris takes it a step further by suggesting that you make so-called if-then sketches. These are specific backup plans for what exact action you’ll take if you run into a problem.
For example, your first step might be to send a pitch for your social media managing service to 50 prospects. You could then make a sketch that says “if I don’t hear back from someone within five days, I’ll send them a follow-up containing a coupon.” What’s more, you can keep playing this game for a while, for example with a second and third follow-up.
This will make you feel very safe and confident about moving ahead, and even if things don’t work out right away you always know exactly what to do next.
Lesson 2: Get your side hustle off the ground fast with a 100 People Project.
Some of the tips Chris gives in this book about finding the right work for yourself include making a list of all the skills you’re good at (and not just the ones you learned about in college), the things you hate doing and paying attention to what other people ask you for help with.
It’ll take some time to figure out what kind of business you want to start, but once you do, this is how you can get it off the ground fast. Chris calls this your 100 People Project.
Let’s say you’ve decided to offer customized meal plans to help people gain muscle because your friends keep asking you for fitness advice.
Now you can assemble a list of 100 people from your contacts, social media networks and other sources where potential customers hang around. If all you do is send a short message to everyone on the list, offering a free, 15-minute Skype consultation, this will greatly improve your marketing skills, show you how you can be most helpful, start building your customer base and maybe even get you your first paying clients!
Pretty neat, huh?
Lesson 3: Learn to be okay with the seasons of life, your life isn’t a straight line, after all.
Do you know what’s depressing? Having to pick just one option out of a myriad of choices. Do you know what’s even worse? Having to live with that choice for the rest of your life.
That’s why you’d never do it when buying pants, a car, renting a house or even deciding on a partner – I’m guessing you don’t just straight propose to someone you barely know (unless your name is Ted Mosby, maybe).
But when it comes to picking a career, we’re still attached to the idea that we have to settle for one thing. But if Gene Wolfe had done that, he’d probably still be working on new kinds of chips to create, long after it’s been clear that the world will remember him for his greatest gift: Pringles.
Luckily, Gene didn’t fall for it. He didn’t want to be “the Pringles guy.” He refused. He liked writing. So, for the past 60 years, he’s written a page a day. He’s published over 50 novels with plenty of different themes, many of which have won awards and become bestsellers.
As Chris says, you never signed a contract agreeing to only do one thing for the rest of your life – so don’t act as if you did.
Life is seasonal and it’s perfectly okay for your career to reflect that. You might grow potatoes in the summer (maybe to make Pringles) and record Jazz music in the winter. There’s enough time to devote yourself to all of your passions throughout your life – just not to all of them at once.
My personal take-aways
I’m such a fanboy, but I don’t even care. Chris is great. Don’t think, just read. Oh and take the quiz that comes with this book.
What else can you learn from the blinks?
- Why you must flip the script on common career advice
- The three components of a perfect job
- What FOMO is and why you should never let it influence your career decisions
- How to start a business completely risk-free
- Why you don’t have to wait for the perfect job opportunity
Who would I recommend the Born For This summary to?
The 25 year old grad school graduate with a strictly mapped out career plan, the 45 year old father with a steady job that feels like a dead-end on the career ladder, and anyone who doesn’t like their job in one season, but loves it in the next.