Start Summary

1-Sentence-Summary: Start shows you how you can flip the switch of your life from average to awesome by punching fear in the face, being realistic, living with purpose and going through the five stages of success, one step at a time.

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Jon Acuff is no stranger on Four Minute Books. About 1.5 months ago, I summarized Jon’s first book, Quitter, where he explained his journey from dread job to dream job.

Since his books are in strategic order, I thought I’d summarize them that way, and Start is the second one, published in 2013. Even if you’ve found your dream job already, a job might not be right for you at all. But what then, is it, that you really want in life?

Start will not only help you answer that question, but also show you how to get there.

Here are 3 great lessons to get started on the path to awesome:

  1. Stop waiting to find your purpose, start living with some!
  2. Try many different things to find out what you like.
  3. Edit your life to remove the things you don’t like.

Ready to flip the switch to awesome? Let’s do it!

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Lesson 1: Stop waiting to find your purpose, start living with some!

Time for a reality check: You can live to be 100 years old and never find out what you were meant to do. That’s a fact. Now isn’t that depressing?


It’s liberating!

Especially if you’re young. I’m 25 years old. Do you know how much pressure it is for me to feel like I have to have all my life figured out right now? My brain isn’t even fully developed yet, but I’m supposed to know the one, true, only reason I’m alive already?

Nope, not gonna happen. Sadly, for most people the alternative is to sit around, wait, and do nothing. Not having a purpose is a great excuse to not do anything. Some of us get lucky. They know by age 9 that they want to be a chef and align their life with that right then and there.

But even if that’s not you, you can’t spend the rest of your life waiting for something that might never come. So instead of waiting for a purpose, start living with some right now!

Whether it’s your true calling or not, you can give everything you do in life purpose. Go to work on time. Send thank you notes to co-workers. Tell them you appreciate their contribution to your work. Buy flowers for your girlfriend (or boyfriend). Build a fort with the kids. Call grandma.

Be present. Don’t wait around mulling over your lack of purpose in life. Create it yourself. Start living with purpose. Today!

Lesson 2: Learn and try as many things as possible to find out what you like.

Once you’ve taken back the wheel of the car that is your own life, Jon says it’s time to start learning. If the goal is to lead an awesome life, that indicates doing many awesome things. But to do awesome things, you first have to find what you think is awesome.

This is different from a purpose, because it could be many things and you don’t have to do any of them forever. Just like seasons, they come and go. In fact, if there’s any process of finding your purpose at all, trying many things is it.

Treat your life like a series of experiments. When something fails, don’t be mad. You’re just collecting data, and you’ve found something that doesn’t work. That’s alright, it means you can now run the next experiment.

A good question to kickstart this process is: If you died tomorrow, what would you most regret having never done?

Maybe it’s time to go and do just that! But start small. Research the topic, actively learn about it, but don’t overwhelm yourself. Set aside a few minutes a day or an hour a week and see what consumes your attention.

Lesson 3: Edit your life and remove the things you don’t enjoy doing.

In the course of learning many things and exploring lots of ideas, you’ll notice you like some more than others. Maybe a few activities even have you totally in the zone and time just seems to fly by. Those are the ones you should focus on.

Since you can’t be a master of everything, it’s now time to edit your life. Remove the activities you don’t enjoy doing and double down on the ones you love.

To give you an example, here are some of the things I’ve done as a freelancer over the past 1.5 years:

  • Write blog posts
  • SEO, both through promotion and writing content
  • Email outreach promotion for companies and individuals
  • Manage outsourcing of design work for business cards, logos, etc.
  • Create websites
  • Translate texts from German to English and vice versa
  • Act as an interpreter for those two languages
  • Work as an editor for other people’s blogs

Only by doing all of these was I able to learn that while translating is fun, I wouldn’t want to do it full time. Same with creating websites. Fun on occasion, but not permanently. Acting as an interpreter is exciting, but very exhausting all the same (lots of travel, you have to be very concentrated).

Writing however, I could do that forever. No problem. Sit me down with a cup of coffee, give me a cool topic, and I’ll write for 5 hours straight. Easy peasy.

This means it’s now my job to edit my life in a way that I spend more time writing and less doing the other things. This is an incremental process, so take it slowly, remove and add things in increments, and once you feel it’s time, make the next edit.

In this way, you can build a life around awesome activities, without putting a lot of pressure on yourself.

Start Review

Jon is gold. He’s very eloquent, funny and has a way of being very convincing without feeling stressful or making what you have to do sound like it’s a burden.

Technology has given us an infinite array of options to live the life we want, and it’s up to us to use it. Jon’s five stages of success are a great guideline to follow.

My suggestion would be to check out the blinks for Start and if you like them and want more of Jon’s personal stories and anecdotes, get the book in paper or audio format.

Who would I recommend the Start summary to?

The 21 year old who’s freaking out because she hasn’t found her purpose yet, the 71 year old who hasn’t learned anything new in a while, and anyone who finds themselves doing things they don’t like on an ongoing basis.

Last Updated on July 28, 2022

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Niklas Göke

Niklas Göke is an author and writer whose work has attracted tens of millions of readers to date. He is also the founder and CEO of Four Minute Books, a collection of over 1,000 free book summaries teaching readers 3 valuable lessons in just 4 minutes each. Born and raised in Germany, Nik also holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration & Engineering from KIT Karlsruhe and a Master’s Degree in Management & Technology from the Technical University of Munich. He lives in Munich and enjoys a great slice of salami pizza almost as much as reading — or writing — the next book — or book summary, of course!