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Summary: Do the Work: The Official Unrepentant, Ass-Kicking, No-Kidding, Change-Your-Life Sidekick to Unfu*k Yourself by Gary John Bishop

Do the Work (2019) is a guide that urges people to confront and overcome their self-imposed limitations in order to achieve personal transformation. Through actionable insights and transformative exercises, you can take control of your career and get on track for a more purposeful and fulfilling life.

Introduction: Grab your life by the reins.

You want to do the work, right? You want to be productive and feel satisfied – like your life is on track. But if you chose this summary, chances are something isn’t quite working. In fact, you’re probably looking for change. So then the question is, What’s standing in your way?

Too often, we delude ourselves into believing that external factors are to blame: If only we had more money, or more luck. If only someone else would give us a break. But the real obstacle lies within. It’s in the internal chaos and clutter clouding our minds. It’s in the negative way we think and talk to ourselves, and in the self-sabotaging behavior patterns we get stuck in.

This is what we’re going to confront in this summary. By tackling these harmful narratives head-on through three core pillars – self, people, and purpose – you’ll gain clarity and be able to steer your life in the direction you desire.

Fair warning: to get results, you’re going to have to be brutally honest with yourself!

Summary: Do the Work: The Official Unrepentant, Ass-Kicking, No-Kidding, Change-Your-Life Sidekick to Unfu*k Yourself by Gary John Bishop

No more excuses

You don’t need a summary to tell you that internal narratives are a powerful thing. But let’s take a closer look at what’s going on in your head, and consider the ways in which these thoughts might be standing in the way of personal growth.

We all have individual traits or behaviors that we struggle to get rid of. These could be perceived shortcomings in character, specific emotions, or particular habits that others may seem to handle effortlessly. Often, we become acutely aware of these “dark spots” and, instead of addressing them, adjust our lives to avoid the potential disruptions they might cause. In doing so, we erect a fortress of excuses to shield ourselves from confronting these truths.

Interestingly, this behavior isn’t just about evasion. It’s more like self-toleration: we passively acknowledge and accept our flaws – be they procrastination, a short temper, or over-politeness – and organize our entire lives around these unchallenged truths.

For transformation to happen, this pattern of self-toleration must be disrupted. Imagine the possibilities if, instead of succumbing to the thought I’m a procrastinator, you actively challenged that belief? This aligns with Epictetus’s wisdom: Identify who you wish to be, then act accordingly.

To kickstart this introspection, there are a few things to consider.

First, identify any traits you feel are “too much” in you – like I’m too passive.

Second, explore areas where you feel you’re lacking. For instance, I’m not confident enough.

Finally, probe the justifications you’ve made to maintain your status quo.

Reflect on which trait, when conquered, would be your personal victory flag – symbolizing genuine self-growth. Understanding this can shed light on your daily actions and choices. What consistent, new action could reflect this newfound mastery? And, when confronted with your habitual thoughts or behaviors, what alternative steps could you take instead?

To put these ideas into practice, make written promises to yourself. Keep in mind that these promises aren’t set in stone – they can be redefined with changing needs and circumstances. But they should resemble personal contracts, with specific goals, deadlines, and challenges to fuel growth.

So embrace this paradigm shift, and start crafting your commitments.

Building better relationships

Picture this: You spoke up during a meeting, and your boss moved on without validating your suggestion. Now negative emotions are welling up inside of you, reminiscent of feeling overlooked by mom or dad.

It’s fascinating to realize that our childhood experiences, from bonding with our grandparents and siblings to interactions with schoolmates and teachers, lay the foundation for our adult relationships. But that doesn’t mean we need to perpetuate emotional reactions that aren’t serving us.

To break the cycle, begin by identifying the relationships in your life that seem rocky. Reflect on their collective toll on your emotional well-being. Now, imagine if these relationships were healed – think about the freedom and opportunities that could unfold.

A significant part of mending broken connections is acceptance. This means truly letting people be themselves. It’s also important to understand and forgive. This might involve delving deep into a person’s history, trying to fathom their choices in the context of their life and circumstances. Try to see their humanity beyond the narrative you’ve constructed about them.

Of course, knowing all this and acting upon it are two different things. Doing demands the immense courage to be present in familiar spaces but interact in unprecedented ways. It could mean being more empathetic, more vocal, or just showing more love.

Taking these steps showcases true bravery, and you might not always get things right. As you navigate the landscape of your relationships, remember to apply the same principles – acceptance, understanding, and forgiveness – to yourself too.

Redefining your purpose

Have you ever heard that adage, Discover your purpose, and you’ll never toil again? It’s a charming notion but a tad misleading. Searching for purpose isn’t like hunting for a lost item; it’s a profound introspection.

Imagine purpose as a driving force – a compelling reason to truly engage with life rather than simply coast through it. It’s about living intentionally, and making choices that align with your core beliefs and goals. Ask yourself how your life would transform if every step you took was filled with purpose? What facets of your existence feel devoid of meaning or intention right now? Look at these pivotal regions that don’t quite match your aspirations, and ask, Why?

It’s crucial to switch off the autopilot mode many of us are accustomed to. Instead, stay alert to your potential, challenge your self-imposed limitations, and actively shape your path. Think about the changes you’d need to make to align with your newly defined purpose. And pinpoint any hurdles – those self-sabotaging habits or behaviors – that could thwart your progress.

Purpose isn’t a preordained, fixed entity. It’s something you have the power to shape and redefine. It’s like the intricate neural pathways of your brain, constantly forming and reforming based on your experiences and decisions. So, as you journey through the tapestry of life, remember to take charge, be intentional, and design your own unique, evolving purpose.

Seven steps to change your life

As you know, the human brain is like a vast, interconnected web; each choice or thought pattern can create or strengthen different threads. Let’s wrap things up by looking at seven transformative exercises designed to help you intentionally forge neural pathways that serve you better.

First, be willing. Recognize that the life you currently lead is what you’ve been willing to accept. Take a moment and identify a day in your upcoming week where you’ll challenge your status quo – and embrace a new opportunity or set a boundary against something you no longer want to tolerate.

Next, celebrate all outcomes. While we usually celebrate only the obvious wins, remember that every outcome, even perceived failures, reinforces some neural pattern. Analyze an area where you feel defeated, and discover the “win” you’ve been unconsciously prioritizing.

Third, acknowledge your resilience. We often underestimate our resilience, but our past victories over challenges – and the mere fact that we’re still here – are proof of our mettle. So embrace that challenge you’ve been dodging, knowing that historically you’ve come out stronger.

Fourth, dance with uncertainty. Our brains seek predictability, but real growth comes from venturing into the unknown. It’s time to tackle an old dream or aspiration you’ve shelved due to fear of uncertainty.

Fifth, prioritize action over thought. Our thoughts can be limiting – our actions are where real change is forged. Break the mold by consciously choosing to act in ways that defy your typical thought patterns, even if just for a day.

Sixth, cultivate unwavering determination. The true measure of your spirit isn’t when you’re at your best, but when enthusiasm wanes. Take note of any areas in your life that have become stagnant, and push through with unyielding vigor.

Finally, free yourself from expectations. Our neural pathways often get mired in societal, and our own, expectations. Experience liberation by consciously honing an expectation-free mindset. Throughout the week, remind yourself to shed expectations and embrace situations as they come. You might just notice a refreshing, new perspective and sense of tranquility.

By actively engaging with these exercises, you’ll challenge and shape the neural connections in your brain, leading to profound shifts in your mindset and life direction. Each choice is an opportunity to sculpt a better version of yourself and navigate life with a clearer, more empowered vision.


The life you lead is a reflection of the choices you’ve made and everything you’ve grown to tolerate. If you desire change, you need to challenge these entrenched thought patterns and redefine your personal purpose. Through courage and honest self-reflection, which includes reconsidering how you relate to other people, you can empower yourself and break free from self-imposed limitations. In the end, only you can provide yourself with a more purposeful and fulfilling life. So don’t just think – act, and take responsibility for your own journey.

Table of Contents

01 Here’s the Rub 1
02 A Life of Sabotage 17
03 The Question 29
04 The Magic Little Sponge 49
05 A Throne of Throwns 69
06 Establishing the Truth 91
07 The Three Saboteurs 109
08 You 117
09 Them 135
10 Life 155
11 The Point of the Spear 175
12 Redirecting Your Way Outta This 193
13 You Can Finally Stop Doing That Shit-No, Really! 215

About the Author

Gary John Bishop


Motivation, Inspiration, Productivity, Personal Development, Success, Self-Esteem, Self-Help, Relationships, Personal Growth


Do the Work is a practical guide to help you overcome self-sabotage and achieve your goals. It is based on the author’s previous bestseller, Unfu*k Yourself, which introduced the concept of personal narratives and how they shape our reality. In this book, Bishop provides a series of prompts, questions, and exercises to help you identify and challenge your limiting beliefs, build better relationships, redefine your purpose, and take action to change your life.

The book is divided into four parts:

  • Part One: No More Excuses. This part helps you recognize the excuses you make to avoid confronting your flaws and weaknesses. You will learn how to stop tolerating your own bullsh*t and start making promises to yourself that reflect who you want to be.
  • Part Two: Building Better Relationships. This part helps you improve your communication and connection with others. You will learn how to listen actively, express yourself honestly, set boundaries, and resolve conflicts.
  • Part Three: Redefining Your Purpose. This part helps you discover what matters most to you and what drives you to pursue it. You will learn how to align your actions with your values, passions, and talents, and how to create a vision for your future.
  • Part Four: Seven Steps to Change Your Life. This part provides a simple framework to help you implement the changes you want to make in your life. You will learn how to plan, execute, evaluate, and celebrate your progress.

Do the Work is a concise and powerful book that offers practical advice and tools to help you unfu*k yourself and do the work. The author’s style is direct, humorous, and motivational. He does not sugarcoat the truth or offer easy solutions. He challenges you to face your fears, doubts, and insecurities, and to take responsibility for your own happiness and success.

The book is not meant to be read passively. It is designed to be an interactive workbook that requires your active participation and reflection. Each chapter ends with a set of questions or exercises that prompt you to apply the concepts to your own situation. The book also includes a link to an online companion website where you can access additional resources and support.

The book is suitable for anyone who wants to improve themselves and their lives. It does not matter what stage of life you are in, what goals you have, or what challenges you face. The book will help you identify and overcome the obstacles that are holding you back from achieving your full potential.

The book is not without its limitations. Some readers may find the author’s tone too harsh or abrasive. Some may disagree with his views on certain topics, such as religion or spirituality. Some may find the book too simplistic or repetitive. Some may prefer more depth or detail on certain aspects of personal development.

Overall, Do the Work is a valuable and inspiring book that can help you transform your mindset and behavior. It is not a magic formula or a quick fix. It is a call to action that requires your commitment and effort. If you are ready to do the work, this book can be your guide and companion along the way.

Alex Lim is a certified book reviewer and editor with over 10 years of experience in the publishing industry. He has reviewed hundreds of books for reputable magazines and websites, such as The New York Times, The Guardian, and Goodreads. Alex has a master’s degree in comparative literature from Harvard University and a PhD in literary criticism from Oxford University. He is also the author of several acclaimed books on literary theory and analysis, such as The Art of Reading and How to Write a Book Review. Alex lives in London, England with his wife and two children. You can contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Website | Twitter | Facebook

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