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Book Review: “So Good They Can’t Ignore You” by Cal Newport

Cal Newport’s first book is a must-read for most of us 20-somethings. If you feel stuck or uncertain in your career, questioning what your next move should be, I highly suggest reading this book to gain some sense of direction.

Newport argues against the popular advice of “follow your passion”. This was a challenging concept for me to agree with as I started reading, because I’ve always had the career “dream” of being a writer.

Writing is my passion, why wouldn’t I want to do that all day long? I had sat behind the secretary desk one too many times, dreaming about what life could be like as a full-time author. Surely, that dream life was in my future.

“Working right trumps finding right work.” – Cal Newport, So Good They Can’t Ignore You

I quickly came around to see the validity in Newport’s argument. The author stresses the idea of building capital in your career, taking a skill you’re good at and becoming the best in your field at it. Doing so can get you the things that make a job most enjoyable, like autonomy, mission and control.

Through real-life examples, thorough research and his own experimentations, Newport provides plenty of relatable situations of his theory at work, showing why career capital is the way to finding the job you love rather than making that your expectation from the get-go.

As I’ve grown up and experienced different jobs, I’ve seen how essential the skill of writing is in the workplace. I’ve also found a field based around this skill that excites me just as much as creative writing – content marketing.

Content marketing is a writing-heavy field where I get to work on improving my craft every day but also learn and utilize other skills, like SEO, data analysis and strategic planning. As I continue to study and improve on the skills, I find myself loving my job more and more.

I could pinpoint several instances from my career that reflect the passion-driven mindsets described in Newport’s book, and I can now easily see why I wasn’t ready for freelancing full time when I tried three years ago. I don’t regret that time spent trying, though, because they were still years spent gaining capital in copywriting and content marketing.

This book helped me reframe my current mindset around my work and gain more clarity in the direction I want to go with my career. I may not be writing books all day, but I am doing writing that I enjoy and find purpose in. Work takes up 40 hours of the work, so I sure as heck want to be doing something that fulfills me. This doesn’t mean to stop writing the books because I don’t have 40 hours for it, just to be intentional about making time for it.

What skills are you already good at in your career? Where is there potential to grow in your skills and be the best in your field? What skills do you find interesting and useful that you’d also like to grow in?

Finding these skills and creating a focused path to improve on them every day in your work life is what Newport argues is how you work great and, ultimately, love your work. He’s got me convinced.

Sound like your kind of read? Check out So Good They Can’t Ignore You at your local bookstore, library or the Amazon link below:

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