Jeff Goins

For Life on Purpose Episode #17, I’m joined by writer, speaker, and entrepreneur Jeff Goins for a great conversation about purpose, legacy, creativity, finding your true calling, and his new book Art of Work- a Proven Path to Discovering What You Were Meant to Do.

About Jeff Goins:

Jeff Goins is a full-time writer who has authored four books, including: The In-Between, Wrecked, and You Are a Writer plus he’s written and guest-blogged for more than 100 magazines, publications, and blogs including Copyblogger, Problogger, and Michael Hyatt’s Blog. He’s also a speaker, online writing teacher, and consultant. His website,, has been visited by more than four million people from all over the world. He lives just outside of Nashville, Tennessee, with his wife, son, and border collie. And he humbly considers himself the world’s foremost expert on guacamole.

His brand new book is the Art of Work- a Proven Path to Discovering What You Were Meant to Do. Steven Pressfield, the best-selling author of the War of Art says, “It will make you think differently about what you do and how you do it. The author is a fresh young voice in a field full of copycats. He challenges us to approach our work the way we would a canvas—both delicately and with furious discipline.”

the Art of WorkAbout the Art of Work:

“Abandon the status quo and live a life that matters.”

The path to your life’s work is both difficult and mysterious, which is why few finish the journey. The Art of Work is about discovering your true calling—that thing you were born to do. As Jeff Goins explains, the search begins with passion but does not end there. Only when our interests connect with the needs of the world do we begin living for a larger purpose.

Those who experience this intersection experience something exceptional and enviable. Though it is rare, such a life is attainable by anyone brave enough to try. Through personal experience, compelling stories, and current research on the mysteries of motivation and talent, Jeff shows readers how to find their vocation and what to expect along the way.

To learn more about Jeff, visit

Episode Summary:

In JUST the first 15 minutes of our in-depth conversation, Jeff and I discussed:

  • “I came across this quote recently by Jackie Robinson. He said, ‘A life is not significant except for its impact on others.’ And that just stuck with me. I think a life on purpose is one that leaves a legacy. A life in which it’s not just about you but the impact you make on others.”
  • How do you do that every day? “I think it means sharing your work with others. It means not treating my wife as the enemy of my dream, but rather as one of my biggest supporters, which she clearly is. Which means that I also have to accept critical feedback and include her in decisions. It means that when I’m writing a book, I’m not just writing it for me, I’m thinking about the people who are going to read it. As I try to grow my blog, I’m being intentional about the way I’m trying to serve readers. And help friends who are trying to do similar things.”
  • What’s one way to cultivate awareness? “You can do that] through what I call Listening to your Life, which is a term that I learned after reading a book from Parker Palmer called Let Your Life Speak. He says, ‘Before I can tell my life what I want to do with it, I need to listen to my life telling me who I am.’ And I think awareness is that process of intentionally listening to your life — paying attention to not just the good parts but the painful parts. And understanding the lessons that your life is trying to teach you, what you can learn from them, and then how you can apply them to living more intentionally in the future.”
  • How a friend who had been reading his mail helped him finally helped him commit to his dream.
  • “So I when I said, ‘Yeah, I guess I want to be a writer someday.’ Paul said, ‘Jeff, you don’t have to want to be a writer; you ARE a writer! You just need to write.’ That next day, I woke up at five in the morning and started writing. And I didn’t stop.”
  • The concept of activity following identity: “Before you can do something, you have to become someone. When I started listening to my life and it started telling me that I was a writer, I realized that I had to be an active participant in that process. I had to start owning the fact that I was a writer for truly great work to follow.”
  • “Think about struggling with your weight. If you look at yourself in the mirror and say, ‘I’m fat; you’re a loser; nobody likes you.” If these are the things that you see and then say to yourself, subconsciously or out loud, how do you think this is going to affect the behavior that follows?” When you attempt these things and then fail, what’s the next thing you say to yourself? ‘I knew this was going to happen. This was too good to be true.’ It’s a subtle form or self-sabattoge. It’s setting you up to fail.
  • Thomas Merton’s concept of the Shadow Self. “You see that all the time with politicians and public leaders. The disconnection between the true and false self.”
  • What are some practical steps that people can do to discover what’s calling them?
  • “It can begin with something as simple as you sitting down with pen and paper and drawing out a horizontal line, with little tick marks. On the left-hand side is the day you were born and the right-hand side is the day you die… And then for ten minutes, plot out significant moments and memories that pop into your head. That idea of listening to life, Palmer was actually quoting Frederick Buechner, who said, ‘All moments in your life are key moments.'”