Review: 48 Days to the Work You Love

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Every Sunday, The Simple Dollar reviews a personal finance book or other book of interest.

4848 Days to the Work You Love by Dan Miller keeps getting recommended to me over and over again by readers. Initially, I had filed it right next to Margin in my mind as a “great career advice book with heavy Christian overtones,” but so many readers clamored for me to read and review 48 Days that I had to give it a reading.

I’m glad I did. 48 Days to the Work You Love does a great job of laying out the full case for seeking a job that you’re passionate about as opposed to one that merely pays the bills.

48 Days to the Work You Love has some significant Christian themes running through it, often using Biblical quotes and stories as part of the motivation and reasoning behind some of the principles. I believe that most of the ideas in this book can stand completely on their own without any faith-based backing, but for some Christians, the religious material will be a boon and for some non-Christians it will be a hindrance. It doesn’t overwhelm the book, but it is certainly a theme throughout.

If that’s not an issue for you, then 48 Days to the Work You Love is an extremely worthwhile read. Let’s dig in.

1 | What Is Work?
Why do we work? Most people answer with reasons related to paying the bills. They’re either working at or seeking jobs that are secure or are in demand because these things create or secure a healthy income. Yet such jobs are often the source of deep unhappiness because it ignores the natural gifts and drives each of us has. We all love doing certain things (though it’s different for each person) and we all have things that we’re very good at (again, different for each person). Yet in that chase for money, we shoehorn ourselves into jobs that don’t utilize the things we love to do or the things we’re good at, and that (unsurprisingly) leaves us unhappy or at least less fulfilled than we might otherwise be.

2 | The Challenge of Change: React, Respond, or Get Trampled
The world is always changing. In order to succeed, you have to be strongly on board with that change. Seek out areas of change that fascinate and enthrall you. Focus on them, learn about them, and bring every transferable skill (yes, my old hobby horse) to the table with you. The more you toss yourself into areas of change that match your skills and passions, the more valuable you become very quickly.

3 | Creating a Life Plan
Your work is not your life. It is simply part of a well-rounded and successful life. What elements do you want in your ideal life? Most of those elements probably won’t involve work – they’ll involve leisure, play, community, relationships with others, and so on. Work you love fills in the gaps between “work” and those other areas so seamlessly that it all flows together and makes you whole.

4 | Wheels, Goals, and Clear Action
What is your overall mission in life? Do you have one? Spending the time to figure one out really helps put everything else in context. Me? I’m a writer who simply wants to help others grow. That’s my mission. Within that mission, Miller identifies seven areas of achievement: financial, physical, personal development, family, spiritual, social, and career. These should roughly be in balance and they should all help you achieve your overall mission in life.

5 | Am I an Eagle or an Owl?
What are your gifts? Quite often, for expediency or convenience, people are stuck in roles that do not match their gifts at all. They’re uncomfortable in those roles and their required skills are far from their strengths. I was once in this position; I had to travel and meet with lots of different groups. Not only was I uncomfortable with the meetings, I often felt that the topic area was outside of my expertise.

6 | 6 Job Offers in 10 Days
How do you get this job? This chapter covers resumes, cover letters, and “elevator pitches” – but mostly resumes. There’s a ton of great advice on here, but the key to all of it is that you need to be assertive. People don’t owe you a job. Don’t believe that a great resume will win you the job alone – it’s just the first step. You have to follow up. Call them. Chase the job you want or else someone else will be the one who chases it down.

7 | Finding Your Unique Path
So, self-promotion is one key to finding the job of your dreams. What other keys are there? One big key is finding out where the jobs are in the field that you’re interested in. What basic things are required to get your foot in the door in those fields? Another big element is deciding when the right time to switch career paths is, and that requires some significant introspection.

8 | Do They Like Me? Do I Like Them?
Here, Miller talks about interviews – and again, the key to getting the job you’ve dreamed of is selling yourself. Can you describe your strongest area of expertise? Another interesting part: it’s often useful to ask about the company during the interview – in effect, you’re interviewing each other to make sure the match is right. This not only helps you figure out if this is right for you, but also puts more confidence in your pocket.

9 | Show Me the Money
Almost every salary is negotiable. Miller spends this chapter talking about salary negotiation – and also the value of sometimes jumping ship to a similar job at another firm for a lot more pay than you’re getting now. The key (as before) is self-confidence and communication skills – you have to be willing to stand up for what you want.

10 | Do You Have What It Takes?
Another avenue many people take (and I’m in this group) is entrepreneurship – in effect, creating your own dream job. This is obviously a harder path starting out because there’s no guarantees, but once you get it going, you really do get to define your job however you like. This usually requires a ton of self-motivation.

11 | Skunks, Rags, and Candy Bars
Here, Miller collects several thoughts together under one umbrella. The big one (for me) was an emphasis on taking the time to think about what you’re doing, because almost every task can be done far more efficiently with some careful thought. Also, don’t get trapped in your past. Everyone fails – a failure in your past doesn’t mean a thing about whether you can succeed now.

Is 48 Days to the Work You Love Worth Reading?
This is the best all around book I’ve read on job hunting, bar none. I genuinely believe it eclipses What Color Is Your Paracute? (my previous pick for “best career book”) unless you’re completely alienated by a small amount of Christian theme to the book.

So, read this if you’re thinking at all about the next professional step in your life. If that statement doesn’t apply to you, then you’re probably not going to get much value from 48 Days to the Work You Love.

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15 thoughts on “Review: 48 Days to the Work You Love

  1. This is on of those books that you hear so much about that it makes me want to skip it. Sounds like an easy read and worthwhile though, especially as I contemplate a career change.

    Outside of the book, I have seen that the 48 days community of websites to be pretty thriving and helpful.

  2. I first heard of Dan Miller through Dave Ramsey and found the book quite helpful, inspirational, but filled with a lot of common sense advice (CSA). I think a lot of us tend to overlook these types of book because we argue that “there’s nothing new there”. This is to our detriment because CSA means nothing if we fail to apply it.

    One thing I did want to mention I had heard but am not sure that there were two editions of the book published – one for the christian market, and one that was not. I’m not sure if that is the case and i’m going to check that further. He also has a follow up work out called “No more Mondays” which might be good for a future review.

  3. These are lovely thoughts, but a bit “new age.” Sounds like it is mostly slanted towards the younger crowd: idealistic college students and recent grads, those seeking their “dreams.” Nice ideas. But who will do all the real work which requires slogging, danger, dirt, low pay and which must be done? Some people must end up as refuse collectors, sewer uncloggers, septic tank “honey dippers”, scrub women, orderlies in hospitals, factory workers, house keepers, landscape laborers, sheet metal workers, construction laborers, welders. The book may help someone with an idea, education and a goal find a better job, and this commercial from Trent will certainly sell a lot more copies for the author whose dream it is to profit from the book (and I applaud that, everyone should prosper from their work and ideas.) But a lot of the grown up working world requires doing work which one doesn’t like. With a family to support, a bad economy which will continue or get worse, with the current regime’s mad dash to collectivism through destroying the economy it is important to those with responsibilites to HAVE a job at all. This book is more of the “chasing your dreams” school of thought. A bit of that is fine, and you can do it, but not everyone is going to land a “dream” job, and if they do, it may end unexpectedly. Sometimes you have to do work you dislike to get money. Although today, if you are fortunate enough to get fired, you can goof off for 98 weeks and then job hunt the last week.

  4. @DeRuiter,

    I sincerely doubt anyone on unemployment is goofing off. It is such a small amount that it does not cover the basic bills-it buys time so we don’t have more families on the street. More likely, the unemployed person is panicking at how to find a job in this economy! The old standard was expect to spend a month job hunting for every 10k you made/will make. Now it is about a month for every 10K.

    I’s true we are set up as win/lose society- and not all is determined by determination. Opportunity is half, and the willingness and ability to act on opportunity is the other half.

    But in any case, an honest days work is an honest days work, and that in itself should be respected, regardless if the person doing the work aspires to more, or not. This book is meant for those who have the impetus to read it in the first place. You have to start somewhere!

  5. I will have to say that I personally loved the book “48 Days to the Work You Love”. I found that it’s advice on finding the work you love are right on. I also feel that this advice is for anyone no matter what your specialty is. Blue collar, MBA, financial rep, etc. it doesn’t matter, the techniques transcend interests and economic divisions. The only thing certain in life is change and jobs and the workplace are evolving into new models that look nothing like they did 20 years ago. “48 Days” helps one change too and more importantly find happiness in the work place.

    I think Dan Miller has created quite a brand. Not only is the book 48 Days fantastic, but the community that he has created with 48days.com and 48days.net are useful and full of resources to help anyone who is truly looking for change. I have recently finished reading Dan’s “No More Mondays”. It is also a great book and focuses more on work creativity which typically means self employment. Again, regardless of who you are, everyone can benefit. Even my 66 year old father who was laid off last year from a blue collar role is using the techniques here to create a working retirement doing what he loves and making a living doing it!

  6. I hated this book. In my opinion it was all a bunch of fluff that you find all over the internet. Plus it was just one giant advertisement for the author’s other products that he mentions in the book.

  7. Finding work you love takes a couple different things. education, experience, talent, and marketability. There are many stepping stones on the path to that dream job. I don’t have the any of the requirements to work my dream job. But I’m working on it. And I’m happy with my current one.
    I think most of us could be happy with many different jobs, some of which would also meet our other needs. I liked your mention on life balance, but much of it seems to be focused on finding a point in the future that you want and then getting to there. But the path along the way is equally important. You shouldn’t have to be unhappy just so that you can have a chance at happiness later.

  8. Really? You liked it? I thought it was INCREDIBLY tedious. In fact, he quotes so many other people that if he removed the quotes and his extrapolation of the quotes, the book would be 1/4th of the current size.

    Seriously, there were so many quotes, I was getting angry. It’s ALMOST a collection of quotes from people FAR smarter and MORE successful than Dan Miller. Here’s a tip, go read the books of people he quoted, it’ll be a better use of time.

    First, it was super repetitive and THERE IS NO REAL CONTENT!!! I usually enjoy the books that Dave Ramsey suggests (and this is another one that he pushes) but this is really an AWFUL book. It’s a waste of time and you won’t learn anything new. Here’s one of Dan’s nuggets of wisdom: If you’re unemployed finding a job IS your full-time job… ummm, DUH!!! And what’s the deal with water, does it quench thirst?

    I suggest Who Moved My Cheese, much better ;-)

    Love your blog man, keep up the good work.

  9. @deRuiter- Everyone is different, and what may seem like a crappy job to one person, may be the dream job for someone else.. I have a friend who drives a school bus and while it sounds like torture to me, she loves it.. She has time off during the day to workout, she has school holidays off, etc. Also a lot of entry level jobs are just that, entry level.. that orderly in the hospital may be working on a nursing degree.. that person mowing lawns may some day own a nursery..

  10. I was a bit offended by deRuiter’s last comment. I did not consider myself “fortunate” when I was laid off twice in two years and spent 16 months out of 24 on unemployment. I searched for jobs every day and applied for jobs in 20 states! In that time, I also took classes and worked on small freelance projects to add to my skills. I finally landed a long-term temp job that pays pretty much the same as what I was getting on unemployment, but I jumped at the chance because the job not only got me out of the house, but gave me the opportunity to learn some new skills that may help me land a better job later on.

    As for the book, when I read a few sample pages on Amazon, I mostly found lists of employment search engines (most of which I have used at some point), so I hope most of the information is more creative than that.

  11. This is one of the best books that I’ve ever read on career advice. For those who take a negative view on it, I would just say, as with anything, not everyone will find the advice helpful. For those who may be swayed by the negative comments, I would suggest spending some time on Dan Miller’s various sites http://www.48days.com and http://www.48days.net, read his blog and listen to his podcast. He give away a most of his advice for free. In fact, if you look on his site 48days.net site, you will see that he offers the follow up book, “No More Mondays”, for free as a ebook download.

    As with any advice, it’s only worthwhile if you take action on it.

  12. Trent – wow, I’ve been directed to your site by a whole bunch of new people joining 48Days.net. As the author of 48 Days to the Work You Love I want to thank you for your review here.

    And I’m sincerely happy to have found your site as well. You certainly put out a ton of great content. Congratulations – and keep it coming.
    Dan Miller

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