Interview with Jon Acuff: How to Be a Quitter

Note: Since I’m speaking at the Quitter Conference today, I thought it was appropriate to dig up this post in which I interview my friend Jon Acuff about how to pursue your dream. Enjoy.

Jon AcuffI had the opportunity to interview Jon Acuff, popular blogger, author and speaker. It was an inspiring and motivating conversation, and I wanted to share it with you.

Jon’s book Quitter: Closing the Gap Between Your Day Job and Dream Job is relevant and timely. In it, he shares his own journey of how he went from cubicle-dweller to full-time author, speaker, and blogger.

My interview with Jon Acuff

Below is the full audio of our twenty-minute interview, as well as a transcript of some of my favorite questions and answers. If you can’t view the interview in your email or RSS reader, click here.

Caveat: The audio quality on this is not great. I recorded it for my own reference (not to air on a podcast or anything), but then decided to share it here. The clicking noise in the background is me typing notes.

[Click here to download the mp3.]

Jeff: Jon, your new book is about finding your dream. Does everybody have a dream? Are people afraid to name their dreams?

Jon: I think everyone does have a dream — in the sense that we’ve all been uniquely created with something that’s true of us and not true of anyone else…

I think that a lot of times people need permission to dream, because for a variety of reasons they’ve been told that they can’t.”

Jeff: Is there a re-emergence of dreaming in our culture?

Jon: I think so.

There is this sense of great expectation for us — of what’s possible… Where it’s corrupted is where it leads to entitlement.

What I’ve seen is that we all can bump into something that love doing, but if we don’t nurture that, and seed that and grow that, we often become entitled.

Jon Acuff QuitterJeff: What are some signs that it’s time to quit your day job and begin to step into your dream job?

Jon: Part of the challenge is people go, ‘I gotta find my perfect job.” And there’s no such thing as a perfect job. There’s no such thing as a job where you only do the things you love 100% of the day. That doesn’t exist.

Looking for a perfect job often blinds you from finding your dream job.

So what we did is create an opportunity filter. For us that looked like saying,

  • I want to work somewhere where somebody has built a personal brand successfully and humbly.
  • I want to work somewhere in the Southeast.
  • I don’t feel called to a church.
  • I want to work somewhere where faith is part of the culture.

So as we started to build this opportunity filter, what it did was that when the Dave Ramsey opportunity came along, we could plug that in. And another opportunity at the same exact time came along, but when we plugged it into the opportunity filter, it didn’t meet as many of our criteria.

That’s one of the signs when you know you need to go — when you design an opportunity filter, and it’ll range from specific to very loose.

Jeff: Have you “arrived” at your dream?

Jon: No. There’s new opportunity and new challenges. The things you get to do change, but you still have to wrestle with fears and hope.

I don’t feel “done.” I feel like I’ve found a dream job. But now I get to perform in that job.

The voice that tells you, ‘Who are you to do that?’ doesn’t disappear when you get to your dream job. If anything, it gets louder, because it’s frustrated that you’re there.

You only hear voices of doubt like that when you actually start to do things that you’re called to do. If you’re living a flat, common life where you don’t take risks — where you don’t live out of your heart — you won’t get bothered by those voices that much.

Jeff: What’s some practical advice for someone who wants to be a writer and speaker (like you)?

Jon: A big part of it is practice.

People will send me questions like, ‘How do I get paid to do my dream?’ That’s a great question eventually, but the first question is, ‘How do I get great at my dream?’

How do I do 100 speeches for free before I get paid for one? How do I write 500,000 words on a blog before I get to write a book?

That, to me, is the hard work… the willingness to do that.

Jeff: What’s the balance between getting a clear confirmation of your dream and just hustling?

Jon: It is a balance. You need to do the thing that — if you didn’t do [it] — would be killing you. There’s definitely confirmation, but for me… the biggest thing is being obedient to that thing I have inside me that I feel that God has given me.

I’m going to write, because that’s what writers do. I’m going to speak, because that’s what speakers do. If you allow feedback from other people to be the thing that eventually drives you, when they stop giving it to you, they essentially tell you to stop dreaming.

That’s a really powerful control to put into somebody else’s hands.

Get the full interview

The above is just the “best of” from my interview with Jon. We also talked about:

  • What’s next for Jon
  • How he found his dream
  • His 18-month quitting process
  • Working through issues of entitlement to nurture your dream
  • Dealing with positive and negative feedback

If you enjoyed reading the transcript, check out the full audio interview. It’s full of a lot more content and definitely worth the listen (despite my cracking voice, random typing, and a cough or two).

Become a quitter

If these ideas resonate with you, you should probably check out Jon’s book, Quitter, which I recommend. You can get it on Amazon (affiliate link).

Also, keep an eye out for the next Quitter Conference. It’s a great event that is encouraging lots of people to take the jump into their dreams.

What are you doing to close the gap between your day job and dream job? Share your own “quitter” story in the comments.