Two Books About Showing Up and Taking Charge of Your Life

As I mention in my book DEEP GREEN, there’s a much bigger point to a low-footprint lifestyle than just trying to take up as little space on the planet as possible (a sort of negative-image version of that old 1980s, yuppie bumper sticker “He who dies with the most toys wins”). Using energy-efficient lightbulbs, growing your own vegetables, reducing single-use plastics, and whatever else you do to minimize your eco footprint is great. 

But beyond that, the idea is to prune away the things that aren’t adding value to your life, so you have more time, energy, and money for the things that really matter to you. For example, you might realize you’re no longer loving your big expensive house, so you downsize to a less expensive place, which leaves you with more time and financial freedom to volunteer in your community or start a business. Ultimately, a deep-green lifestyle is about living deliberately and sharing your unique gifts with the world. 

In that spirit, today I’m highlighting two books about aiming high, living your own life, and sticking to your goals. 

The Boss Lady Investor, by Krista Goodrich with Grace Everitt

This book is aimed at young women, since the author realized that a lot of her peers were dangerously ignorant about finance. But regardless of your age or gender, you can probably learn something from this book unless you are already extremely financially literate and investing successfully (and maybe even then). 

Growing up, I never realized how fortunate I was that my Dad explained financial stuff to us kids. I just figured everyone knew the ins and outs of stocks, bonds, mutual funds, amortization, dollar-cost averaging, the rule of 72, etc. Wrong! Despite being relatively literate financially, I still learned new things from Krista’s book. I got my money’s worth just from Krista’s eye-opening charts that show how a rental house can be a lucrative venture even with a mortgage. (I had always thought a mortgage was a bad deal, and avoided them.) 

Older women, such as widows who traditionally relied on their husbands to handle household finances, would also get a lot out of this book, as might some men. Another target audience would be permaculture/sustainability folks, among whom limiting beliefs about money run rampant. 

I found the chatty, colloquial tone entertaining and engaging, and helpful in digesting the highly detailed information Krista provides. But even if you prefer a more formal tone, stick with the book; you’ll learn a lot. The chapters where Krista shares some of her personal ups and downs with finance are valuable as well. For me, it was a reminder that even people who seem to have it all together can get into financial trouble — and just as surely, with self-discipline and a bit of practical knowledge, anyone can get him/herself out of financial trouble. If you buy this book, you are sure to learn something useful about personal finance, and have a good time doing it. If you aspire to be a millionaire, the book offers plenty of practical information that, if you follow it, you will get there. This book is well worth the price ($14.99 for the paperback). I thank Krista, a fellow Daytona Beach author, for writing it.  

Serious Writers Never Quit — They Find the Way, by Bryan Hutchinson 

Writing is mostly about persistence and attitude. I’ve known this for a long time, but it’s always good to get a reminder. Bryan offers great tips for taking the pressure out of writing. We have to permit ourselves to write rough drafts, rather than hatch a perfect polished manuscript on the first pass. We have to write regularly. Daily. The word count doesn’t matter as much as the daily-ness. And most of all, the biggest lesson is in this sentence: “Ultimately, it’s what you tell yourself that makes you or breaks you as a writer, as an artist, and as a person.” In place of “writer,” you could fill in carpenter, gardener, musician, restaurateur, chef, investor, entrepreneur, farmer, or whatever it is you aim to make a living at. Or even for a personal goal like losing weight or quitting a bad habit. Though aimed at writers, Bryan’s advice is spot-on for anyone who aspires to be success at what they do. The main thing is not to quit.

This is an important lesson not only for individuals but for communities as well. If I had a dime for every wonderful small business I’ve heard of that has suffered “death by giving up,” I would be rich enough to buy all the vacant buildings on a local blighted commercial street and fill them with businesses. There are times when it’s a good idea to abandon an unsuccessful path. But in my observation, most people quit long before it would be a reasonable idea to do so. And not only individuals, but communities are poorer as a result. This is where the “sustainability” piece really comes in for me. People pursuing their highest aspirations create a regenerative society. When people hang back and don’t really go for it, there’s a deadening effect not only on the individual but also on the community. 

Bryan writes like a kindly big brother who understands your pain because he himself has known the same pain. For a mere $2.99, this Kindle ebook is a major shot in the arm that could lead you to write your bestselling book (or launch your successful farm or restaurant). Bryan’s tips for getting out from under perfectionism, and sticking with what you are serious about, are good advice for living in general. I’ve followed Bryan’s blog for a while now and bought one of his earlier books awhile back (Writer’s Doubt: The #1 Enemy of Writing and What You CAN Do About It), which I really enjoyed also. Serious Writers Never Quit is a fast read that’ll get you moving on your path. 

Full disclosure: I was initially motivated to write a review of Serious Writers Never Quit because Bryan offered to post a link to the website of any of his readers who posted a review of his book. That said, this is a 100% sincere review, and I recommend Bryan’s books to any writer — and just about anyone else who’s ever battled the deadly, paralyzing force of perfectionism. 

You can check out Bryan’s blog here.