Imagine a World Without Books

August 27th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

How to Liberate Your Library in 3 Simple Steps

[Note, before you read this: Far Beyond The Stars is written for digital nomads and vagabonding minimalists (see sidebar), not necessarily academics with huge libraries — though they are welcome to read.

Obviously there are great reasons to have a huge book collection, and books as artifacts and souvenirs will never go away. What I’m offering here is an alternative to the status-quo based on what I perceive the future to be.

That being said, I do still read physical books. I just don’t keep them after I’m done with them. I gift, donate, recycle. If I kept them, I wouldn’t be as free as I am now.]

Seth Godin announced last week that Linchpin was the last book that he’d publish in the traditional form.

In addition, Tim Ferriss published a sizable post about how authors really make money. His answer: not by selling books.

Who knows if Seth is pulling a Brett Favre or actually abandoning the publishing industry, but the point he makes is clear:

Physical books are a thing of the past.

They’re expensive to produce, difficult to distribute, and it’s hard to get one published. More importantly, the publishing industry does not compensate writers nearly enough for their time and impact on the world– for example, Chris Guillebeau is spending more money out of pocket on his book tour than he was paid to publish his upcoming book.

The world is changing.

Ebook sales on Amazon have outpaced the sales of hardback books. It’s no secret why, physical books just aren’t practical anymore.

Yes, books are kind of nice to hold and read, but for a digital vagabond the idea of lugging around a library is terrifying.

This is the age of the digital, it’s only natural that authors will start moving towards complete digital distribution.

I already have started pursuing this digital reality, with my own reading habits and the way that I’ve published my books.

I’ve never been involved in the physical publishing industry, and probably never will be. Though I have been courted by lit agents promising me riches (really?) and fame, in exchange for giving up my profitable business. That’s nonsense.

Would you get on the Titanic if you knew it was going to sink?

There are of course many more reasons to abandon the idea of a physical book, many of which benefit the reader more than the author.

1. Less impact on the environment.

Printed books are produced on paper (which comes from trees) and then shipped all over the country. A large amount of fuel is wasted between the creation of the work and the eventual arrival in your hands.

2. Ultra-mobility sans library.

When I made the decision to begin living a minimalist lifestyle, I abandoned the idea of having a physical library of books. Any physical books that I purchase I eventually gift, recycle, or resell to a used bookstore. Why? Because maintaining a large library and being location independent is a costly endeavor. If I kept all of my books, I never would have this life.

Shipping an entire library every time I picked a new city to live in would be financially irresponsible and would impede my freedom.

3. Less barriers to entry for writers.

Writing a book is easy, getting a publisher to publish your book is about as impossible as winning the lottery. You have to prove that your book will sell ahead of time, and for most people this is a difficult task — sometimes you don’t actually know how well a book will do until you put it out into the world.

If you skip the publisher and go straight to the digital market, you’re skipping the gatekeepers and have an easier chance at success.

4. You actually support the author with your purchase.

When you buy a physical book, the author is lucky if they get 10-15% of the sale price. Where does the rest of your money go? Production costs and fat people sitting behind desks deciding what your read — we like to call these people gatekeepers, and they’re obsolete.

If you buy digital the author can get anywhere from 30% to 100% of your money, depending on the platform. Amazon’s Kindle platform pays anywhere from 30% to now 70%! (If you let them control the price.) My own sales from my Minimalist Business Bookstore achieve 50%-100% of sales, and all of the money that I’m not getting goes to readers who are supporting my work.

That is an amazing change and allows me and a growing number of idea makers to have the ability to actually make a living from our work. Why choose to get your book printed if you can actually make a profitable business around a packaged digital idea?

For example, one of my top sellers this month for my books was the amazing Tammy Strobel, who was recently featured in The New York Times.

5. Access to your library anywhere.

Our society is increasingly mobile. Sometimes you’ll want to check a fact in a book, but you’re in Thailand (with Ross Hill, Cody McKibben, and very soon Colin Wright) and your book is sitting in a basement in Idaho. This conundrum is avoided by building a digital library that is accessible from anywhere in the world.

6. Less waiting for books to arrive.

When you buy a physical book, chances are you’ll have to either commute to pick the book up or order it from Amazon. Either way you have to wait for the book to arrive. You can avoid this by declaring independence from the physical and downloading books from the Internet.

With bookstores closing as fast as they are, it’s even harder now to find a bookstore that will stock the book you want to read anyway. Most bookstores only stock bestsellers and new books. If you want a rare but brilliant find, good luck!

7. Knowledge over ownership.

The information in the book is in you after you read it. The information, if valuable, becomes a part of your brain’s knowledge-base.

Why keep a physical reminder of the ideas?

Truth be told most or us will never read a book twice, so why are we keeping books around for our entire lifetimes? To me that’s just silly. Read the book and get rid of it. Alternatively, just buy digital on Kindle or from indie authors and read on a device or computer.

8. You need less fans to support the work.

With traditional book publishing, you need hundreds of thousands of people to make a book a success. This is because of the costs of distribution — most of the money you spend on a book goes towards the printing and shipping of the physical object.

When you go digital you only need Kevin Kelly’s 1000 true fans.

This means a lot more authors have a chance at being successful in a digital world. If I’d gone with traditional publishing, I would have starved long before my message reached the world — but because I embraced the digital world my writing business is insanely profitable. To me that decision is a no-brainer.

9. It’s a simple way to achieve freedom.

All of these reasons lead back to the central theme behind this blog: freedom is our goal. Embracing the digitization of knowledge will lead us father along with that journey.

How to liberate your library from the physical.

Alright, so by this point I imagine I’ve convinced you that maintaining a physical library is a pointless act routed in the idea of what our lives should look like.

The American dream of everyone having their very own private library is a fallacy and is directly imposing on our quest for freedom.

So how do you make a change?

Liberating your library is incredibly simple:

1. Embrace the idea of information abundance.

You can have most books at your fingers instantly using Amazon’s Kindle distribution system, by searching for information, or purchasing independent digital books like mine and others. This means that you don’t have to maintain a library at all, because the library is a shared resource that we all enjoy at any moment. This is a brilliant moment in the evolution of the human race, we should embrace information abundance and free our minds.

2. Downsize and eventually eliminate your library.

Your physical library is keeping you from being free, so you need to eliminate it. This is no easy process, I know from experience. We tend to become very sentimentally attached to the books we’ve read.

We say ‘what if I want to reread page 324 of Harry Potter 4 someday?’ Well, you can always download that book again! However, chances are you’ll never re-read 99% of the books you’ve already read, so saving them is pointless.

Start by getting rid of every book that you’ve read that you didn’t like or are certain you’ll never read again.

Next eliminate every book you’ve already read.

Then move on to books that you wish you’d read but seriously have never had the time. Really, you’re actually going to read the collected works of William Shakespeare from start to finish? I think not. Even if you do wake up in the middle of the night wishing you could decode Hamlet, you can download it online.

Then read and eliminate systematically every book you still own that you actually want and can read.

Then donate, sell in bulk, or recycle all books.

3. Declare yourself free from the idea of the physical book.

Once you’ve embraced the idea of information abundance, you can basically do anything you want. Travel for five weeks in the Australian outback, hike up to Machu Picchu, or perhaps sit on the beach in Nicaragua for seven weeks. The possibilities are, as always, endless.

When you combine the ideas that I present in The Art of Being Minimalist with your freedom from your books, you can become free and live and work anywhere in the world.


Thank you, as always, for your help spreading the word about this story.

I have an interview with Tammy Strobel coming up on Monday about her new book Smalltopia. Don’t miss out! Join 5,700+ subscribers and sign up for free updates via RSS or Email.


Don’t forget, you can still comment, even though I disabled comments. Write about this on your blog, or get in touch on Twitter.

The True Purpose of Simplicity

August 16th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

We sometimes forget why we’re here, we aren’t looking where we’re going, or even where we’ve been.

We get all caught up in an idea about what we should be doing, and forget about what we really want to do.

I think what we want to do is to be free.

Instead we’re told by society that we’re supposed to buy a new car. We’re supposed to get our hair done a specific way. We’re supposed to go to college. We’re supposed to work all day and still somehow we’re in outrageous debt, and we wonder why.

There’s a weird misunderstanding about what simplicity actually is.

I get a lot of emails from people saying that they would never want to live this life.

For example, recently someone told me that the only reason they’d ever stop driving is if there was a mass extinction of the human race. I asked her why she was reading my blog if she was so opposed to everything it stands for.

The problem is, that I haven’t really defined what this blog is about, so it’s understandable that some people would be confused.

Far Beyond The Stars is about one very specific thing:

1. How to achieve freedom.

It’s not about skipping your coffee in the morning, it’s not about getting out of debt, it’s not about growing your food in your backyard, it’s not about checking yourself into the monastery on the corner and meditating 17 hours a day.

The origins of my simplification, and how it helps you.

I never intended to follow the set career path that society laid out for us. I didn’t go to high school, instead I took ballet and modern dance classes every day. I went to college to become an artist, and then hopefully at the end I secretly hoped that I would be inducted into the Legion of Extraordinary Dancers.

But it didn’t happen.

Instead I watched in horror as society crushed the dreams of every single artist friend I had. One by one every single one of them settled in some way for an outcome that wasn’t what they intended.

Slowly, one by one we didn’t make the audition for the dream that we’d always had.

Instead, we went out and got jobs at restaurants, we stayed in the basement of the university library, we did a good interview at a corporate job and got fat and lazy sitting at a desk all day.

Maybe in our spare time we kept working on our art, secretly hoping that we’d get a record deal or a publisher would pull us up by our bootstraps.

Seldom does Deux Ex Machina happen in real life though — the only person who can save you is you.

I believe this is actually everyone’s story. Some of us made it farther along the road than others, like we actually got into dance school or we had one show at CBGB’s on the Bowery with a packed house before it closed.

Eventually I gave up and settled for a job, because everyone else did.

Four years later I woke up and realized that I was missing the point, that somewhere along the way we all did, and this is why we failed.

The reality that was broken.

So every morning I woke up and took the subway into work. I sat at a desk and made other people’s stories look nice (meanwhile being told every time I pitched an idea that I’d never be a writer- HA, now who’s the more successful writer?) It was fun, we thought we were doing good work. I was paid just enough to survive, but it was never enough. My student loans just sat there accumulating interest.

But slowly on the fringes of my social radar, I noticed as one by one people started to drop off the radar. They said ‘fuck you’ to the corporations and started wandering the streets of America searching for the answer — what the tiny little voice in their back of their heads said.

“There must be a better way.”

What these people did, and what I did, was to radically refine our meaning of success.

We start to realize that the success that we thought we needed was implanted in our heads by the advertisers.

  • Coca Cola wanted us to think success was sitting at the movies chugging cokes watching Tom Cruise dodge explosions.
  • American Airlines wanted us to think of success as once a year taking an expensive flight to the caribbean.
  • Nikon and Canon want you to believe that you’ll be a famous photographer if you just buy one more camera lens.
  • The Bush administration wanted us to think success was not getting blown to bits by terrorists (which statistically is much lower than the fact that you have a 1 in 100 chance of being crushed by a car or flying through your Subaru’s windshield) while getting our permission to bomb the crap out of a foreign country in order to keep oil prices low.
  • American Idol wanted us to think success was texting 1 to their magic number while we sat in our chairs and munched on Lean Cuisine.

You get the idea.

Meanwhile I saw one by one my friends wake up and realize it was all a big fake magic reality that we’d have if we just bought one more Budweiser in the Meatpacking District.

We were in The Matrix, and the only freedom was truly to opt out.

So I did, I destroyed all of my stuff, quit my job, and got off the grid permanently.

Far Beyond The Stars is about waking you up.

It’s about telling you that your reality is broken, and there is another option.

You didn’t make the choices you made because you wanted to, you did it because The Man Behind The Television told you (because he wants your money.)

The Internet gave us the tools to create this revolution in the way that we think. We no longer live in the illusion that buying one more video game will make us happier. We no longer believe that a fancy handbag will make us find love.

We no longer believe that success = Donald Trump.

Instead we’re slowing redefining freedom as a reality you can have right now, if you just stop consuming.

Destroy all of that crap the television told you to buy and never go to the mall again.

Because buying more isn’t the answer. Freedom is.

And that my friends, is what Far Beyond The Stars is about.


Oh! And retweet this, because I can’t change reality by myself, I need you to join us in this movement, because we can make a difference.

P.S. I’m still on a digital sabbatical. That’s why commenting is off. I can’t answer your emails until I get back from the forest on August 23rd.

But don’t worry, I’m still posting work while I’m gone. That’s the magic of automation. Don’t miss out, sign up for free updates via EMAIL or RSS.

How to Make Money No Object (with very little)

July 7th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

Why It’s Easier to Succeed if You Have Nothing to Lose

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

“If money were no object for me I’d…”

“When I win the lottery I’ll…”

I hear these sayings all the time, we all do.

I want to take a moment to help you discover how to make money no object with very little money.

Why? Because I honestly think the idea that you need to wait until you have a large amount of resources is holding people back from achieving a reality where they can live and work from anywhere — or whatever your plans are.

I feel that eliminating excuses through simple experimentation has gone a long way towards helping me discover my own full potential, and I hope this will too.

Why the risk is really what you fear to lose.

When we truly dissect the above excuses, we can see quite easily what is really at stake: losing everything.

We’re afraid if we pursue the reality that we always dreamed of, we’ll end up losing the reality that we have now.

So we wait for the day when money is no longer an object. When we’ve made the millions that will support our every dream and ambition.

There are two elements that make this assumption completely absurd.

First I’ll break down the assumptions, and tell you why they’re wrong. Second, I’ll show you how to make money no longer an object through one simple practice that I’m sure you’re already aware of.

…and they are:

1. You’ll never make millions if you never take risks.

People think that if they sit around at a desk, someday they’ll get promoted and make millions. This isn’t true, because employers have an infinite choice of hiring potential. Who are they going to hire when it’s time to fill a new position? Someone new, exciting, and who appears more ambitious than you in a 45 minute interview. Also, while you sit around, you’re getting older and your dreams are rapidly turning to stone.

2. You’re not simply going to ‘get lucky’.

You can’t win the lottery if you don’t play. Buying a lottery ticket is a risk you have to take for impossible odds. If you don’t play, you also can’t win. This is a metaphor, of course, because it’s dumb to actually play the lottery. If you don’t risk something, you can’t move to the next level.

Okay, so now that I’ve dispelled those myths, I want to show you to beat the system. How to make the risk of following your dreams negligible.

Reduce what you’re risking as much as possible.

Risking putting everything on the table when you have a lot to lose is an awful lot to ask. ‘What if I lose the Porsche? How will I ever survive?’

One of my heroes, Julien Smith the co-author of Trust Agents, has a saying that “Cultural Transparency ÷ Risk = Upward Mobility“. From my experiences, I genuinely believe this to be true.

In order to move up in society, you need to both take risks and learn about how the world actually works — which is oddly enough not how everyone tells you it works.

So this is what you need to do, in order to eliminate as much risk as possible in order to pursue your dreams — which could be much more profitable and ultimately rewarding than the life you’re currently leading.

1. Eliminate anything, and everything, in your life that you fear to lose.

You can’t feel the pain of loss if you have nothing to lose. Give away the Porsche, junk the flatscreen TV, downsize to a smaller house, donate the Gucci handbag to someone who doesn’t need to risk anything.

Make a list of everything you think you can’t live without.

Now, sell everything on that list.

You can keep your clothes and your laptop if you think you need them. Maybe you need shoes. Maybe you don’t!

All of you junk is holding you back from your pursuit of your dreams. It’s best if you eliminate everything to the point that you’re living out of a bag or somewhere close to that.

I’ve been living out of a bag for a year now, this is the single most important factor in my ability to take risks in order to build my business to be as profitable as it is now.

2. Pay off all of your debts.

Every debt that you take on makes it harder to take risks. If you pay off all of your debts and resolve never to take on another again, you’ll be able to risk it all so much easier.

For more on paying off your debts see my article on Minimalism Vs. Debt.

3. Start taking risks.

You have to start small. Now that you have nothing to lose, I want you to go ahead and start taking some small risks just to be uncomfortable. The object is simply to push your boundaries and nothing more:

A simple risk taking activity to inspire you:

During a busy rush hour commute I want you to go to a public place where, more than 150 people are present — public transit is best, but a mall or plaza can do, with headphones and some sort of music playing device such as an iPod.

Now, pick a song that’s danceable and has lyrics you know by heart. I usually do this with Smashing Pumpkin’s ‘Ava Adore‘, but you know what you know.

Now, turn the song on, walk into the middle of the public place and start dancing + singing as loud and as extravagantly as possible. Stay in one place in the most crowded location possible. Do not stop until the song is over. There is nothing illegal about singing and dancing, you will not get in trouble.

People will probably look at you like you’re a crazy person. That’s okay.

Once you’re done, just walk out of there like nothing ever happened.

I realize the idea of doing this is terrifying to a lot of people. Being weird is frowned upon everywhere.

The idea is not to be weird, or to attract attention, it’s to start exploring what it feels like to take a risk. You might look like a fool if your simple business bombs. You might feel bad when your wife asks where the Porsche went. Feeling weird is part of risk taking.

The truth of the matter is that you’ll never succeed if you don’t try.

And the easiest way to try is to have nothing to lose.

I believe this is one of the fundamental lessons behind Minimalist Business.

How to Avoid Scaling Your Life-Overhead With Your Income

June 23rd, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

Why minimalism can keep your overhead low and your freedom high

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

One of the biggest challenges of minimalism, especially when you apply it to the idea of creating a minimalist business, is avoiding the inevitable pull and pressures to scale up your life expenses with the rise of your personal wealth.

There’s a good deal of pressure in society to spend more money. We congregate around malls in most parts of the country, there are advertisements to buy buy buy everywhere, there are endless luxuries that we’re told will make us happier.

Why spending more won’t make you happier.

Obviously if you’ve been following my writing for any amount of time, you know that I’m convinced that buying stuff doesn’t make you happier — it just tethers you location and consumes your income.

I originally discovered the idea of minimalism when I left my day job to pursue a location independent life. In order to do that, I had to figure out how to live on very limited resources.

I asked the question: how do I survive without money? Inevitably that lead to minimalism, which lead to living with less than 100 things and being able to live and work from anywhere.

However inevitable it might have been from the beginning, I never conceived of the idea that my income would reach the level that it has in such a short amount of time.

The dangers of income growth.

Once your minimalist business grows (and if you do the right things it will) you might discover the same challenge.

You’ll suddenly find yourself working less than 10 hours a week, and making more than you did at your day job.

When you don’t scale your income with your overhead, you suddenly produce a surplus of money which you can use to your advantage — say to get out of debt, retire early, or simply pursue the dreams that you’re passionate about.

That’s why I’ve prepared this list of 16 strategies to keep your life-overhead from scaling in direct proportion to your income. I hope this list can help you keep your spending low and your income high, whether you’ve successfully created a minimalist business, or you’re trying to leave your soul-sucking day job.

Here are 16 strategies to keep your overhead from scaling with your income:

1. Use free transportation.

One of the easiest and healthiest ways to keep your overhead low is to use free or inexpensive transportation. We live in a society where having a car is the norm, however cars are expensive, destructive, dirty, and anti-social. If you care about the state of the Gulf oil spill, I’d better not see you driving. The truth about the matter is that it’s fairly easy to live car-free by purchasing a bike, walking, or simply using public transportation.

2. Live in a place that’s walkable.

Not all cities are created equal. Places like Portland, OR. New York, and San Francisco are created in a way that you can obtain everything you need to survive by walking a couple of blocks. If you live in a city or the suburbs where sprawl is the norm, you’re keeping your overhead high by needing a car to obtain your groceries. Stop, think about where you’re living, and make the right choice in order to keep your overhead low.

3. Prepare your own food.

Eating out for every meal is costly, and also not healthy. Fast food, and even most restaurant food, is filled with stuff you don’t even want to know about, especially salt, fat, and processed sugar that metabolizes faster than our bodies can handle. If you prepare your own food out of whole ingredients such as vegetables, meats, beans and grains, you’ll both lose weight and save money. Shop the periphery of the supermarket, only buy unprocessed food. Jules just came out with a free minimalist cookbook that can help you with this.

4. Track your possessions.

Nothing can blow your overhead out of proportion like buying lots of junk you don’t need. The easiest way to keep your stuff under control is to commit to living with less than 100 personal possessions. I’ve been doing it long enough now that I wouldn’t even dream of living any other way, it’s just not practical to have to worry about lots of stuff everywhere.

5. Live in a smaller space.

One of the big fallacies of the American Dream is the McMansion that MTV convinced us we were supposed to buy. Having a big house with a huge yard and a two-car garage can or will blow your overhead out of proportion. Opt-out of this lie and rent a smaller space in a walkable area.

6. Avoid watching TV.

The television is designed with handy 5-minute breaks to convince you to buy an unrealistic amount of stuff that will quickly swell your overhead. If you ate all of the junk food that comes up in one hour of typical commercial breaks, you’d die. Avoid this situation by not being a passive consumer of mindless entertainment, destroy your TV and cancel your cable.

7. Avoid reading mass media.

Newspapers and magazines are created around the same advertising model, which is largely unsustainable — that’s why the newspaper and magazine industries are dying. If you look at your average fashion magazine, you’ll be convinced the only way to be cool is to spend $6000 on a handbag. This is absurd, you don’t five-hundred beauty products and sparkling gold jewels. All of this stuff was created to make other people rich and brain wash you into living a life with no meaning. Don’t read newspapers or magazines as most of them encourage consumption (and also kill trees.)

8. Establish a minimalist social circle.

Be careful who you hang around with. If your best friend’s idea of having fun is racking up credit card debt at the mall, you have a social circle problem. Cultivate relationships around less and encourage people you know to embrace minimalism, or find friends who already have. A great way to do this to share minimalist writing through your social networks like Facebook and Twitter in order to make it clear to people where your priorities lie. Invite friends over for dinner and enjoy good conversation over inexpensive home-prepared food instead of going to the movies or spending hundreds of dollars out at the bar.

9. Share resources.

We all done need everything that we’ve been told we do. Cars for instance are quickly becoming a shared commodity in most cities because of amazing resources like Zipcar. There are of course countless other ways to share resources. Join a tool lending library for when you need to create things (these exist Portland and Oakland, and if your cities doesn’t have one you should convince them it’s necessary.) Use Zikol to rent anything that you need ,or offer your own useful items for rent in your neighborhood. Consider setting up small neighborhood collectives to share things that you might not need on a regular basis. This is becoming easier with social networking and the rise of the Internet.

10. Pursue simple pleasures.

The idea that you have to spend money to be happy is absurd. Realize that simple things such as sitting at the beach, or on a bench at the park can be a free or inexpensive way to spend time. Cooking food can be a great way to get enjoyment and also pass the time. Read books about things that matter in order to improve your knowledge of the world and pass time. Lately I’ve been volunteering to crew sailboats on San Francisco bay, which is a free and helpful way to have an amazing day.

11. Use simple tools.

There are so many expensive gadgets and tools out there to buy. The pressure to upgrade to the latest and greatest nonsense is absurd. You don’t need five different ways to access the Internet, you only need one. You don’t need to invest in the top of the line gadget when you only need a simple tool to get the job done. Sometimes a simple pad of paper is the best way to get any job done.

12. Do less.

Walk slower, breathe oxygen, simply be content sitting and watching the trees sway back and forth. All of the endless and frantic running around won’t be remembered, it will just make you tired. When you slow down and do less, you begin to realize that everyone is doing way too much. Why work 60 hours a week when you can work 10? Why run to the grocery store when you can walk slowly? Walk slowly, breathe, do less.

13. Focus on the work that matters.

Not all work is created equal. A large number of people I know are caught up in routines that just spend lots of time, but aren’t creating any value. When you spend your time creating things that help people, and automating your distribution process, you can eventually spend a lot less time working and a lot more time enjoying your minimalist life. Eliminate all activities that aren’t creating value for you, or anyone else, and focus on the important.

14. Dedicate time to self-education over all else.

We’re taught that we need to be taught to learn things, I’ve found that the opposite is true. Self-education can be the most effective way to use your time. There are hundreds of free, or inexpensive resources that can help you learn a huge amount of information. If you’re wondering what to do with your life, don’t go buy a pizza and play video games. Instead, log on to TED and watch some of the world’s greatest minds talk about the ideas that they’re passionate about. Don’t spend $150,000 on a business degree when Empire Builder or a Personal MBA can give you the tools to create a very small business for a small fraction of that price. Resolve to read a book a week for the rest of your life — believe it or not simply reading give you the keys to creating your ideal reality.

15. Realize that you already have more than enough.

We’ve been living with so much more than we ever needed for generations. When you wake up and realize that advertising tricked you into consuming so much more than you ever needed, and that you can be content right here and now, you suddenly have the key to keeping your overhead low in order to prevent your life from scaling with your income. You don’t need anything else, everything you have now is enough.

16. Keep the end goal in mind.

The end is the beginning is the end. Don’t get distracted by meaningless pursuits by setting an end goal that has some meaning to you. Do you want to leave your soul-sucking day job in order to pursue a minimalist life and live and work from anywhere? Maybe you want to build a boat and sail all around the world? Maybe you just want to sit on your porch and read a good book.

There’s no reason that your end goal has to scale with your income. If it doesn’t scale, your income will skyrocket with no-relation to your spending, and freedom can become an inevitability.


If this helped, you know the deal. Share it with people, it’s the only way my work finds new people it can help. Thanks!

Interview with Karol Gajda: How to Live Anywhere

June 8th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

Why you can build a freedom business in order to work from anywhere in the world

Interview by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

Karol Gajda is a globe-trotting minimalist rockstar –he even brings his hand-made guitar with them anywhere. He lives a simple life, has traveled through India, Thailand, and is currently in Poland. He’s dedicated to helping 100 people establish “ridiculously extraordinary” freedom at his blog by the same name.

Today, I have the pleasure of interviewing Karol on a very special day — the release of his new product How to Live Anywhere. I’ve just read the e-book thoroughly, and I have to say, I’m incredibly impressed by the work he’s done. I won’t say more, I’d rather let the interview do the talking. I’m sure the e-book isn’t for everyone, but if you’re interested in pursuing a location independent life, How to Live Anywhere can help you.

Anyway, onward to the Interview. We spoke about Karol’s globe-trotting exploits, his changed attitude toward consumerism, and how to live anywhere in the world.

Everett Bogue: Karol, I’m fascinated by your ability to live and work from anywhere — many of your techniques I’ve been able to apply to my own business. As I understand your goals have morphed significantly over the last few years. How has your perspective on making a living shifted?

Karol Gajda: Thanks Everett! My living has always been based online, but I didn’t really start taking advantage of that until a couple years ago. Instead of embracing the opportunity to live and work anywhere I bought a big house, an expensive car, and useless toys. As you know I wrote more about that (and about how I got rid of everything) in the Minimalist Quick Start Guide here on Far Beyond The Stars.

Karol: My perspective has shifted from a blatant buy-buy-buy consumer to a careful consumer. I still buy things, but I live out of a 32 Liter backpack so I’ve given myself limits. For example, instead of buying a bunch of physical books I have an Amazon Kindle, which I can now use in almost any country I’m visiting. I’ve bought books while in India, Thailand, and Poland (which is where I am currently.)

Everett: I first interviewed you last year. I understand you’ve had quite a journey since. Can you give us an update on where you are now in your travels, where you’ve been, where you’re going?

Karol: Yeah, during that time I was in a small break between New Zealand and India, getting some vaccinations and catching up with friends/family for the holidays. Shortly after that interview I left for India to learn how to build guitars by hand. Technically I don’t call myself an ultralight packer anymore because I have a guitar in tow. But hey, I built it and it rules. The sacrifice of this piece of baggage is worth it. After 2 months in India I went to Thailand for 40 days. I was in Bangkok during the early parts of the protests, which unfortunately got violent and deadly about a week after I left Thailand for Poland. And I’m currently in Poland until October. I was born here, but my family left when I was a baby so I’m back to learn the language better and get to know some of my family. After Poland I’m going back to the US for about a month and likely Panama for 3-4 months after that. :)

Everett: How do you support yourself in order to live anywhere?

Karol: The easiest way to put it is Internet Marketing, but that’s such a general term. Over the past few years I’ve focused more on niche Web sites, doing affiliate marketing and niche info products. 80% of my income over the past 10 years has been through affiliate marketing. One of my favorite approaches is to use an infoproduct as a lead generator and then promoting infoproducts/memberships through affiliate marketing on the back end. For example, selling (or giving away) a small eBook about unique date ideas, and then promoting a dating site (or other dating products) on the backend.

And now, as of today, I’m launching my first product from my blog teaching people how to do what I do. The philosophy, logistics, and specific making money aspects of living anywhere.

Everett: What is your number one priority in releasing How to Live Anywhere?

Karol: When I started my blog in 2009 the goal was to help 100 people achieve Ridiculously Extraordinary Freedom, which is not defined by me, but by you. To me it’s the ability to live anywhere. To somebody else it might be to have a home base for most of the year, but move to Mexico or Japan or France for 3 months every year. It boils down to being able to do what you want, when you want, where you want, with whoever you want. How To Live Anywhere is essentially my life’s work, and can teach people how to make those kinds of awesome things happen.

Everett: In your mind, what is the single most important people should be doing with their work online if their goal is to live anywhere?

Karol: The quick answer is simple: provide value. But those words can come across as a bit empty sometimes. How exactly do we provide value? All of us have something unique we can teach people. For example, you started this blog and business by teaching people how to pare down their possessions and become minimalist. It doesn’t have to be any more complicated than that. Maybe you’re an amazing singer. You can teach that online. Maybe you rock at gardening. You can teach people your gardening secrets online. What I would say is don’t be like everybody else who is in your niche. Without showcasing your unique voice (we all have a unique voice) you’ll just get lost in the online crowd. If you’re truly giving people good content and giving us your personality, you will be heard through all the noise.

Everett: I imagine you’ve had to make some interesting lifestyle choices in order to live anywhere. Can you think of an unconventional strategy that you’ve had to employ to move anywhere?

Karol: Because of the way I travel I don’t need to be a minimalist. I’m visiting places for more than one month so I can chill out. Checking big baggage wouldn’t be a problem because I wouldn’t be lugging it around much. I’m not constantly on the move. That said, I live out of a 32 Liter backpack because minimalism makes life, whether you’re traveling or not, easier. Those of us in the minimalist community don’t think of it as unconventional at all. But this is a very small community. In general, whenever somebody sees my bag of possessions the first thing they always ask is, “Where is all your other stuff?” My answer: “This is it!” Minimalism is still quite an unconventional strategy even though it is becoming more mainstream.

Everett: Have you had to sacrifice anything?

Karol: Obviously I don’t get to see a lot of my friends back in the US. But then, a lot of my friends are constantly traveling as well. I do try to make it back to Michigan every New Year’s Eve because we throw a big party and reconnect. As far as things like technology, I’ve had to make no sacrifices. We live in an amazing time because so much can be done online, and a laptop is all you need. I haven’t even used a cell phone for 4 months. It has been fantastic!

Everett: Finally, what do you think the single most powerful benefit of living anywhere is?

Karol: Experiencing new people and new places teaches us to respect others and ourselves more. I used to sit at home all day, watching TV, going out with friends drinking, and stuff like that. The only lesson I learned from that is I wasn’t living life, life was living (and killing) me. By getting out into the world and living in new places I connect with new people (I used to be a big introvert and traveling has forced me to change that) and reconnect with myself. What I want out of life is awesome experiences. It took me a long time to learn this lesson, but the money I make is only important in that it allows me to seek out new people and experiences.


Be sure to check out Karol Gajda’s How to Live Anywhere, available today.

How to Live With 50 Things (and Why I Decided to Stop)

June 6th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

When you opt-out of the endless cycle of consumerism, you can discover freedom.

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

Around two months ago, I made an announcement on Twitter that blew some people’s minds: I decided to live with less than 50 possessions.

I haven’t talked much about it on the blog, because I’ve been focused on producing content that helps people. Promoting the fact that I was living with 50 things just seemed to be bragging, so I haven’t talked too much about it until now.

For those who are joining us recently, the 50 things movement was started by Leo Babauta on his blog Mnmlist. Colin Wright and Henri Juntilla are also living with around the same number of things.

The 50 things movement doesn’t count shared items like cooking supplies, bedding, and furniture. I was only counting personal possessions that only belong to me.

Why I decided to live with 50 things.

I’m a big fan of trying out everything once, so I decided to jump on board and try it for awhile. I’ve been living with 75 things for awhile, and reducing that number to 50 didn’t seem like a huge leap. So, I went for it.

Here are the benefits of living with 50 things, from my experience living with less for two months between March 2010 – and May 2010. I no longer live with 50 things, and I’ll explain why further down.

1. It’s incredibly easy to relocate to anywhere in the world.

I moved to Oakland, CA from Brooklyn, NY on May 15th with my girlfriend Alix and Lola the cat. I tossed one backpack into luggage (I only did this because we had Lola the cat, and I wanted to simplify our trip on the plane even further or I would have carried it on.) And carried on a small bag with my laptop, a hoodie, and Jack Kerouac’s On The Road in it. All of my possessions moved easily from the East coast to the West coast.

In my previous moves with 100 things, I often felt like I was carrying entirely too much with me. When I had my stuffed-full backpacking bag (with sleeping bag and tent), plus my camera bag, plus my stuffed-full laptop bag. The combined weight made it difficult to move around easily. With 50 things I could easily carry all of my possessions without stressing my body.

2. It’s incredibly easy to find things.

When you have 50 things there is no way to lose things. I’m convinced that once we pass 150 things our minds can no longer pinpoint the exact location of all our individual possessions.

My theory about this is that up until recent history humans didn’t have more than 150 possessions, so we haven’t evolved to keep track of more than 150. This is why people with over 150 things are known to lose things (where are my sunglasses?)

When I had 100 things, I could easily pinpoint the location of any of my possessions in my mind before going to find them (the cleaning cloth of my laptop is in the left-front pocket of my laptop bag.) When I had 50 things, this superhuman ability became magnified. Because I had less to worry about, it was even easier to locate things.

3. You save a lot more money.

When you have 50 things, the urge to entertain yourself by spending money is incredibly diminished. I only made a couple of significant clothing purchases during the early months of this year, and that was to replace clothing items that had worn out.

My Frye boots that I’d owned for a number of years finally gave out, and I had to replace them with a new pair. I purchased a few new pairs of underwear and tank shirts for doing yoga in. Other than those purchases to replace completely destroyed clothes, I did not spend money on possessions.

4. You can pursue alternative ways of finding happiness.

Buying things doesn’t make you happy. The televisions have told us to buy things for the last 50 years, so it’s almost completely ingrained in our culture. “If I only had another gizmo, I’d be happier.” This isn’t true, and when you reduce your possessions in order to be conscious of your consumption, you start to find ways to fill the time which don’t involve purchasing junk.

5. More time to focus on the important.

When you have less things, you can focus on doing important work. One of the benefits of living with less, for me, has been that I can create work that matters. Instead of organizing my junk, I’ve been able to write two e-books, The Art of Being Minimalist, and the upcoming Minimalist Business, that now provide all of the income I need to survive.

I’ve known people with massive amounts of stuff in large spaces. What I’ve observed is that these people spend endless amounts of time organizing and cleaning their possessions. They also spend a lot more money on their spaces, because they need extra room for the stuff they don’t need. The junk starts to rule their lives. When you live with less the need for large spaces, and the time you have to spend on organizing, cleaning, and buying more stuff disappears. All of this free time can be dedicated to focusing on the important.

6. Financial freedom.

Ultimately this all leads to financial freedom. When you need less space, because you have less stuff, you can work less to support yourself. Many people can’t escape their debt because of oversized houses, junk-buying habits, and having no time to focus on the important. Living with less can solve that problem.

I suppose all of these apply to living with 75 things as well, but when you live with 50 things they are amplified.

Why I decided to stop living with 50 things.

Living with 50 things was incredibly liberating, but since moving to California I’ve decided to abandon the experiment and move back to living with 75 things. Why? There are two main reasons.

1. I need to simplify my laundry days.

Living with 50 things means you have to clean your clothing more often. I found myself at the laundromat once a week like clockwork. This was fine in Brooklyn because the laundromat was three buildings away, but the laundromat in Oakland is six blocks away, which means I have to dedicate a significant amount of time once a week to laundry-doing.

In order to simplify my laundry schedule in order to focus on the important, I’m gradually purchasing more clothing to save time doing laundry.

On Wednesday I purchased two pairs (I was living with one pair that was starting to show wear) of high-quality denim jeans, which fit well. I’ve also purchased a few more t-shirts and underwear in order to lengthen time between laundromat visits. Eventually I hope to be able to do laundry once every two weeks.

Side-note: I now have a 29 inch waist. This is down from toping out at 33 inches when I had my day job. Apparently living a free and independent minimalist life is very good for your waist size.

Obviously you could argue that I could wash my clothing in my sink. I don’t own quick-dry clothing, though I would purchase some if I were to go abroad. I’ve found that hand-washing is much more of a time-sink than laundromat washing. This time would be better spent working on the important, so I’ve opted not to hand-wash clothing items.

2. I missed my Moleskin and pen.

One of the items I downsized when moving to 50-things was all of my paper, so I tossed my Moleskin notebook that I use for free-writing and brainstorming. This meant that I couldn’t do hand-written brainstorming sessions.

While eliminating my Moleskin simplified my life by directing all of my brainstorming sessions into Evernote, I found that the experience of typing ideas into Evernote on my iPhone was less than satisfactory. Writing by hand is both an inexpensive and also a simple way to capture ideas for later use.

I’ve also found that writing my hand helps center the hemispheres of my brain, and more easily allows me to move to a creative place. There is also no Twitter application to accidentally open in my Moleskin.

In conclusion.

I realize that living with 75 things is still very little for most people, and the 50 things that I had was an incredibly small number. I haven’t updated my possessions list to reflect what I currently have, I’ll be sure to do that soon.

Living with less isn’t for everyone, but I’ve discovered that it can make life a lot simpler when you decide to opt out of the endless cycle of consumerism.

For more on how I was able to reduce my possessions to less than 100 things in order to live anywhere, check out my e-book The Art of Being Minimalist.


The New Escapologist interviewed me yesterday about minimalist freedom and escaping from the dying magazine industry.

On Tuesday I’m interviewing Karol Gajda of Ridiculously Extraordinary about how he lives and works from anywhere. Don’t miss out, sign up for free updates via RSS or EMAIL.

Minimalist Business Success at the Basis of Existence

May 12th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

On moving to SF Bay, and how minimalism makes small goals reach success.

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

First of all, I just wanted to say thank you for everyone who came out to support the launch of Minimalist Business.

The turnout was simply extraordinary. You’ve blown me away with your enthusiasm. I’ve received an incredible amount of email over the last two days, and I apologize if it’s taking me awhile to get back to everyone.

So far the feedback has been 95% positive, constructive, or simply thanking me for doing this work. Thank you.

How successful was the pre-launch of Minimalist Business?

Because Minimalist Business is truly riding on the idea that a location independent digital business can support an individual, I think it’s best if we have complete transparency about how much money came in from the pre-launch for my latest product.

I’m doing this not to gloat over the money (because it really isn’t that much, but it’s plenty compared to how much money I spend maintaining my minimal lifestyle.) But because I want you to see what’s possible if you put in the work to make this kind of business a reality for you.

The launch brought in just over $6000 over 24 hours.

My goal with this release was $2000, which I passed in the first hour. The pre-release of Minimalist Business did far better than I ever could have anticipated.

Depending on your perspective, that figure is either a lot or very little. I have friends who bring home a paycheck this size every week (and they spend it just as quickly.) If you remember from my writing last year, I survived on $3000 in Portland for three months. Needless to say, this is more than enough to support my on-going work for an extended period of time, — my life-overhead is so incredibly low.

Also, this figure is above and beyond the income already coming in from The Art of Being Minimalist and the affiliate work that I do for other work that I believe in. I see it as more of an investment in future work.

Long time readers know that I live with 50-things, so don’t expect to see me go on shopping sprees or anything like that. I’m just not interested in wasting money supporting consumerism, when the work is so much more important.

The myth that you can’t pay the bills working as a writer.

The biggest element of this whole story, the one that’s a real shocker to a lot of people in the world, is the fact that you truly can make a living as a writer by creating great work.

I spoke in Minimalist Business about the idea that we don’t need middlemen anymore. When you stop waiting around for a publishing house, an agent, a record label to come ‘discover’ your work, you free yourself up to start doing the work that supports you.

Far Beyond The Stars is named after a story in which a writer in the 1940s literally has his life destroyed because of middlemen who won’t publish his work. The fact that middlemen no longer rule the world is truly liberating to every artist in the world.

The first step is to recognize this fact, then we all need to actually start acting on it with the resources that we have at our disposal. I hope that Minimalist Business gives people the tools and inspiration to do this.

On location independence in SF Bay.

As most of you know, my girlfriend and I are moving to The San Francisco bay area on Saturday May 15th. We’ll probably be setting up shop in Oakland, because it seems to be the kind of neighborhood that we’d enjoy living in.

We’re staying in a room in an apartment we booked at Airbnb. They’re letting us bring the cat, this is awesome.

As we’re moving in only a couple of days, I may be less in-contact than I normally am. Moving is fairly easy for me, being that all of my stuff fits into a bag, but I’ll be busy locating an apartment that rocks in a neighborhood that rocks.

I haven’t lived in a new place since returning to Brooklyn in January, so I’m incredibly excited about exploring a new place.

On the affiliate relaunch of Minimalist Business.

One of the hardest decisions I had to make was whether to include my affiliate network in the initial launch of Minimalist Business. I made the decision to just distribute the initial release here, on my site only.

In my view, the work just isn’t ready for wider exposure yet. It stands on it’s own, but after the relaunch is will truly rock the world.

Think about it this way: you now have a month or so to become incredibly familiar with the work for the re-release. I’ll be distributing Minimalist Business with 50% commission, so you only need to sell two copies to make back your purchase price, or even more.

My true hope is that after you’ve read the e-book, it will be easier than ever for you to do this. I’ll be sure to give you more info as we get closer to the date about how to join the affiliate relaunch of Minimalist Business.

Thanks so much for sticking with me on this. I promise that it will pay off in the future with a stronger work for you to advocate for, if you’re part of my affiliate network, or are interested in joining.

On Minimalist Business feedback.

As I’ve been saying, a lot of the work that I’ll be doing over the next month will be on making Minimalist Business better. I want to hear from you. What wasn’t clear? What was missing? How can this help you better?

We’re already nailing the grammatical problems, but I honestly think these are less important — I’ve also already received emails from dozens of people offering to help with this, so rest assured the grammar will be spotless in the next release.

The overarching message of the work is most important to me.

We can spend all day discussing whether a sentence needs to be three inches to the left, or whether a comma is necessary or not. Copy editing is important, but it’s also easy to fix. What is important is making better the work that matters, this is the hard part — and hence the focus of 90% of my attention in the next month.

Contact me with your thoughts, I’d love to hear from you.

On creating work at the basis of existence.

We’re taught daily by society that money matters above all else. If only we had a little more money, everything would be better. We’d be able to live better, people would like us more, we’d be able to get a nicer handbag.

None of that matters. Money isn’t important.

I fully intend to continue living at the basis of existence, and using the resources that I’ve received by contributing value to continue contributing value to you. This is the most important element, and one that we should all consider when working on our own minimalist business ventures.

The basis of existence is an idea that you only need food and housing to survive, the rest of everything you think you need has been pushed on your by marketing and advertisers. You don’t need any of that, live simply and free yourself to work on what is important.

As Rolf Potts recently observed on Tim Ferriss’s 4 Hour Workweek blog “…neither self nor wealth can be measured in terms of what you consume or own.”

What matters most is the time you have to work on what matters most to you.

By supporting my work, you’ve given me the time to work on making the work even more valuable than it already is.

I fully expect $6000 to support my lifestyle for the next three to four months, due to living at the basis of existence. Will I have more money coming in from The Art of Being Minimalist? Of course. This doesn’t give me the permission to blow it on fruitless endeavors or consumerism. That would defeat the point.

When you stop trading time for money, and spending money to eat up time, you opt out of a perpetual cycle that is keeping you basically imprisoned in a corporate system.

Then you can be free to create work that matters.

Thank you all for your support, it means so much to know that I’m helping you make a difference.

Everett Bogue

The Surprising Truth About Using Minimalism to Leave Your Day Job

March 31st, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

7 ways why leaving your job doesn’t have to be hard.

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

This is the 3rd part in a now 4-part series on leaving your day job. The 1st was on preparing to leave your day job the 2nd was on how to make money online.

The last article in this series will be on how to survive the first three months after leaving your day job. Don’t miss out! Sign up for free updates via RSS or EMAIL.

The idea of losing a day job is terrifying to most people in the modern world.

There are many reasons for this, but they’re pretty simple: we’re living overextended lives.

A number of factors contribute to permanent workplace servitude among them:

  • Expensive car payment and insurance.
  • Subscriptions to Cable TV, etc.
  • Consumer debt that hasn’t been paid off.
  • College debt, because of the rising cost of getting an education.
  • Large expensive houses.
  • Eating out at every meal, or pre-packed microwavable foods that make us fat and stupid.
  • Spending on stuff you don’t need because you thought you needed it.

We can further reduce these contributing factors to one simple message:

You have too much stuff.

This is why you can’t leave your job, because your life costs so much that the moment you don’t have $2000-$4000 coming in with every paycheck, everything comes crashing down around you.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one in this situation. Luckily, there are other options.

The story of stuff: too much to less.

Tammy Strobel was in this situation a few years ago. Two cars, a big house. She couldn’t figure out why she wasn’t able to break even. Then she employed a healthy dose of minimalism, sold her costly cars and recently started a very small writing business. She details her story, and how you can go car-free in her new e-book, Simply Car-free. Now she’s happily biking around Portland and works when she wants on the projects that she cares about.

Tammy Strobel isn’t alone. A small army of creative individuals are realizing that they don’t need the junk that the televisions told us to buy.

Perhaps you’re already applying the principles you learned in the last article on making money online to build a small online empire destined for world domination like Chris Guillebeau? It certainly takes some time and a lot of effort to make this move towards freedom, but if you’ve got the goal of visiting every country in the world by your 35th birthday (like Chris), two weeks of vacation a year just isn’t going to cut it.

What you need is freedom.

The funny thing is that freedom is so easy to attain.

In September of last year I asked myself a simple question: what would it take to leave my day job and live and work from anywhere? If you’ve read The Art of Being Minimalist, you already know the answer.

This answer is too good to keep a secret though, I’d rather share it with you. I’ve decided to pluck the secret out of my simple e-book and summarize it to you right her. I hope it helps you find your own personal liberation.

If you apply these guidelines below, you’ll have no trouble freeing yourself from the confines of your day job — or any other goals you may have.

Here are 7 ways to apply minimalism to leave your day job.

1. Reduce your possessions to a more manageable amount.

The biggest mistake people make when they decide to leave their jobs is thinking they can keep it all. If you have a McMansion full of junk and you leave your day job, you will have to pay for the space to store these things, and also spend money on upkeep. Living with a lot also encourages rabid consumerism. The secret is to reduce your possessions to a minimal amount.

I live with less than 75 things, and I’m attempting to reduce that amount to at least 50 by the time I move to San Francisco on May 15th.

I realize that living with 50 personal possessions seems crazy to most people, but it’s how I choose to live. With 50 things I can move whenever I want with a backpack. You might think you need more than 50, that’s okay! 150 things is more than enough for most people.

When you find yourself living with less than 150 possessions, you’ll start to notice how much freer you are. Suddenly your mind is free to think about things other than your junk.

Make a list of your 100 most important things. If you feel the need to buy something, it has to displace one of those things.

2. Remove all dependence on expensive and needless entertainment.

In the modern age we’ve been trained to think our human lives should be spent in front of a TV watching endless hours of television.

This is absurd, you’ve been duped.

Sell your TV, unsubscribe from your cable. If you have a show you really need to keep up with — pick only one! Chances are you can watch it online. Anything else that falls under the category of entertainment and is either an addiction or a subscription needs to go. All of these costs add up, this is when you get into the situation where you have to work 60 hours a week to survive.

3. Stop needless consumerism.

Stop buying stupid stuff. Many people are hooked in the little adrenalin boost they get from spending small sums of money every evening.

This boost from consumerism is NOT a momentary happiness experience, it’s actual parallel is a low-dosage hit of heroin.

Corporations have scammed you into thinking that the only way that other people will accept you is if you have a new H&M top every time you go out. This is not the case. A week’s worth of simple and durable clothes is all a person needs to live comfortably. This frees you from thousands of dollars a month of needless expense. Stop shopping, start living.

Personally, I’d rather spend more on a pair of jeans that can withstand 4-6 months of daily wear.

4. Find joy in simpler things.

Many of the best pleasures in life are free, and infinitely more fulfilling than shopping.

Go for a walk with no destination. Go sit on the beach for a day. Lie on your roof and watch the stars at night. Cook a meal for your friends. Plant a tree. Climb a mountain and sleep on the top. Read a book. Minimalism doesn’t have to be boring.

There are so many inexpensive ways to have great experiences, you don’t need to go spend hundreds of dollars to live your life.

5. Move to a city where you can live without a car.

Cars are the second most expensive purchase you will make in your adult lives. Did you know you can live without them? Well, you can. There are a number of cities in America where cars aren’t the norm, move to one of them and suddenly you’ll have huge hunks of cash that you forgot you had. Go car-free and the possibilities start to open up.

It’s a myth that living in a city is more expensive. It’s not, because you don’t need a car. Check out Portland, OR for amazing quality of life. Brooklyn, NY for amazing opportunities. Both of these cities are walkable, bike-able, and awesome.

More at SuburbanShift: How Cars Rob Americans of their Retirement.

6. Focus on the important.

When you focus on only a few very important things in your life, you actually succeed at them.

What is important to you? Write that down, now! It’s sad story when I ask a person what their priorities are, and I get blank faces.

Worse is the people who tell me they’re a painter (or any artist,) but they’ve only done two canvasses. If you’re a painter, reduce your possessions to the essentials: your brushes, your canvasses.

When the TV is gone, the only way to entertain yourself is to paint. Eventually you’ll start to make decent work, this can be translated easily into making a living from your art like Soniei does. Focus on the work that is important to you.

7. Stop searching for the next half-assed spike of adrenalin (go for the real stuff.)

Shopping gives you a temporary high. So does drugs, alcohol, TV, video games, etc. These things are fun over the short-term, but forty years down the road no one is going to care that you watched the entire Lost series three times through.

If you’re into adrenalin, do something crazy, like move to New Zealand and go skydiving.

Destroy your Guitar Hero (if you spent as much time playing guitar as you do on Guitar Hero, you’d actually be talented at music) and actually go on tour. Trade manufactured happiness for the real experience. Stop engaging in the detached distain of current affairs by reading the newspaper and go try and make a difference in the world.

Is this really so surprising?

I realize that the idea of adopting all of these systems is incredibly difficult for most people. I know this because I’ve been there.

You’re used to living in a fantasy world.

This world is propped up by over-extended credit and modern day wage-slavery.

You can either continue to live that life, and I know many of you will. Keep waking up every morning, stumbling to the car, sitting under fluorescent lights for the entire day.

Alternatively, you can pop the red pill and choose to wake up.

Reduce your possessions to the basic essentials that you need in order to build a life outside the confines of this corporate system.

When you get to this point you’ll start to notice long a basic amount of savings, such as $3000, will actually last you. Then you can start to build your own minimalist business and find your own personal liberation.


Here are a few links to check out, I hope they will help you.

Pavarotti’s Secret to Success by Chris Guillebeau.

How to Say ‘No’ Gracefully by Tammy Strobel.

An In-Depth Guide to Buying and Selling Websites by Glenn Allsopp.

A Little Celebration of Less by Jeffrey F. Tang.

The Reality of Digital Content by Seth Godin.


Did this article help you? The best way you can help me out is to take 10 seconds and share this post. If you have five minutes, I’d love if you could write about me on your blog, this really helps people discover my writing.

Thank you so much.

32 Ways to Refocus on the Important

March 28th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

The most successful people have only a few priorities. Here’s how to refocus when you lose track of yours.

Written by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

The inconvenient truth of entrepreneurship.

I have a confession to make, I’ve been working too hard.

The whole idea of working for myself was so I could have more time to live life, remember?

Well, over the last two weeks I got carried away with my entrepreneurship. I’ve been working over 40 hours a week on the blog and my next e-book. This is far too much time to be spending on my minimalist business.

I was supposed to be living the minimalist work week to the fullest, and concentrating on my real priorities: Yoga, Cooking, Writing, and Reading.

Instead I’ve been working all day, cooking fattier foods, and I had totally forgotten about yoga for a week.

I’ve got to refocus, maybe you do too?

Everyone loses focus on their priorities occasionally.

This is okay though, everyone loses focus on their priorities once in awhile. Occasionally it’s beneficial to lose the balance in their life in order to achieve greatness in one direction.

But after working hard in one area, there comes a time when it’s necessary to refocus on what you’ve identified as being truly important. For more on identifying the important see: The Stunning Truth About Focusing on the Important.

This is why I’ve compiled a list, below, of 32 ways to focus on the important. I hope it can help you re-find the focus in your life.

I’m going to be refocusing in the coming weeks.

As some of you know, I’m working on a new e-book called Minimalist Business. The e-book explores my journey to creating a low-overhead business which supports my location independent lifestyle.

I’m writing this e-book because I’ve received hundreds of emails about business side of my work on The Art of Being Minimalist. These emails have given me many ideas to think about as I did my best to help everyone who emailed me create their own minimalist businesses.

I hope it can help you achieve the same kind of life, if you’re interested.

In order to get the e-book done, and maintain focus in my life, I’m going slow down the schedule here at Far Beyond The Stars to two stories per week. This way I can work on making two posts twice as useful to you, and also have time to work on completing the e-book.

On to the focus!

Feel free to apply one or a few of these to your life, but don’t try to do them all at once. Definitely feel free to bookmark this page and return to it whenever you find yourself losing focus.

Here are 32 ways to refocus on your priorities.

1. Slow down. The best way to refocus on your priorities is to slow down. Take 10 deep breathes. Walk slower through life and appreciate every moment. You’ll start to see clarity when you take time to appreciate every moment.

2. Stop checking email. If you read my post on Timejacking, you know my opinion on email: it’s not as necessary as you think. Set two (or even one) specific times to check email during your day. This can save you up to 3 hours of time sitting in front of your inbox waiting for messages to come, so you can react to them. Turn this around, and you’ll start to focus on your priorities and create great work. I’ve been checking email less (trying for one time per day as much as possible) for a number of weeks, and my productivity has exploded.

3. Change up your routine. Turn your routine on it’s head. If you exercise in the mornings, try exercising at night. If you work during the week, try working on the weekends or at night instead. If you walk down 5th Avenue every day on your way to work, try walking on 6th Avenue instead. If you always go out to eat, try cooking at home instead.

4. Disconnect from the internet. Turn off your wireless router, or unplug your Ethernet cable, and just sit there. At first you’ll go crazy without being able to constantly click around on Facebook. It’s okay, you’ll be fine. Before 1990 no one had Internet in their homes, remember? Let alone Internet in their pockets! You’ll survive. Just sit and stare at a wall until you’re able to refocus on your priorities.

5. Write your priorities down. This is so incredibly important. Take out a sheet of paper, or open a blank document on your computer, and simply write down your priorities. I like to keep them to 4 or less. These are the things that are really important to you. These are passions, not obligations.

6. Take a few days off. Nothing fixes focus like a good long weekend. Take a few days off and do something fun. Don’t think about work. Don’t do any work. Just focus on having fun, or creating something that you enjoy. When you get back to work you’ll have a fresh mind and be able to refocus on your priorities.

7. Take a walk. A good long walk can do wonders if you can’t focus. The repetitive motion of your feet has a way of centering the left and right hemispheres of your brain. Just pick a direction and start walking, don’t have a destination, just walk for the journey.

8. Go to the beach for a day. I love going to the beach. It’s a great place to sit in the sun and let your worries wash away. If you don’t have a beach near you, a park can do too, (but beaches are more awesome.) Bring some sandwiches and spiked punch. Don’t forget your sunscreen! Definitely forget your cellphone.

9. Up your intensity. Sometimes the best way to refocus is to take everything to the next level. Take one of your priorities and spend 80% of your time doing it. I plan on doing this with Yoga in the next few weeks. By spending all of your time, you’ll be able to refocus on your priority and take it to the next level.

10. Work somewhere new. If you’re used to working in an office, or in your home, make the decision to change your location. Work from a coffee shop or the library. Go to a friend’s house and work together. Take your work out on the porch and work in the sun, or go to the park.

11. Hang out with different people. We can sometimes fall into a routines of hanging out with the same good folks all the time. The trouble is, this can lead to social stagnation. Try hanging out with new people once in awhile. This will open you up to new ideas and you’ll have new experiences.

12. Sleep more. This is a no-brainer. The studies all show that we don’t get as much sleep as we need. Take a few days and catch up on your rest. Sleep for 9 hours a night instead of 6. You’ll start to notice your priorities come into focus when you have enough rest.

13. Eat good food. We are what we eat, literally. And yet some people eat garbage from the take-out. Don’t do this! Try cooking dinners at home every day for a week (perhaps consider doing this for the rest of your life.) Use fresh vegetables, beans, nuts, berries, etc. Eat fresh fruit for breakfast in order to have more energy. When you eat better you’ll overcome obstacles with much less effort.

14. Sit in silence. Simply sit in silence for 30 minutes. Don’t worry about meditating. Sit on a comfortable pillow, or in a chair, close your eyes and let the thoughts pass through your brain. A time-out like that can change your thinking and help you refocus.

15. Kill your bad habits. Choose one bad habit and take it to the guillotine. Just stop doing whatever you hate about yourself. There are so many things that humans compulsively do that are bad for us. When we have the courage to tell ourselves no we can free up space to focus on what we really want to accomplish. Some bad habits you may have: TV, smoking, drinking, Twitter all day, email, negativity, pessimism, driving.

16. Stop worrying so much. Anxiety is simply failing over and over and over again in advance. Tell yourself to stop worrying. The simple reason for this is that worrying doesn’t do any good. It doesn’t help to guess at what the outcome of an action will be. Make a decision about what you think the outcome will be and stick with it. Maybe it’ll work out, maybe it won’t. At least you didn’t spend 5 hours chewing up your stomach anticipating your own failure.

17. Throw out the plan. Plans are just guesses. Too many people spend 80% of their time planning and half of the time they never get to the actual execution. I’d like to let you in on a secret: execution is everything. The plan isn’t necessary if you don’t do anything. In most cases you can do something without a plan. Cut out the preparation and start making things happen.

18. Read for new ideas. Take a day and go to the bookstore. Find a great book. If you need suggestions, I’ve read a bunch of books so far this year. All of them were very good. Now, sit down and read the book. Slowly let the ideas flow off the page and into you. This will rejuvenate your focus on the important.

19. Turn off the TV. If you know me, you know I hate the TV. Two years ago I helped my roommate paint three of them and turn them into an art installation. Two weeks ago I helped my girlfriend finally sell her flatscreen. The average American watched 5 hours of TV a day in 2008 (according to The Story of Stuff), that’s 35 hours a week. Tell me there are better things you could be doing with that time.

20. Take a mini-retirement. There’s no sense in wasting the prime of your life working yourself to death. Save up a few thousand dollars and go incommunicado. Rent a boat and sail down slowly down the coast. Rent a beach house in Mexico and disappear for a month or two. Trust me, the world will be here when you get back.

21. Move somewhere new. So many people never make the decision to leave their home town. It can be one of the best decisions you ever make it leave a place one you’ve been there for awhile. Pick somewhere and go there. Leave behind all of your crap, you don’t need it. Just go somewhere before it’s too late.

22. Radically change your diet. If you’re eating pancakes every morning, try eating fresh fruit. If you eat steak for dinner, try eating tofu. There are a million ways to radically change your diet. You are what you eat, so when you transform your diet you transform yourself.

23. Declutter your living space. Take a day and get rid of clutter. Find a home for every object that you own. Put things in drawers or closets. If you can’t find homes for everything, you need to get rid of some things. Make a box and put things in it. Take these things and donate them to someone needs them.

24. Limit your work schedule. We work too much. The worst part is, we can usually manage to fit our work into as long as we give ourselves to complete our jobs. No one ever achieved great things by working 80 hours a week for an entire year. If you normally work 60 hours, reduce your schedule to 40. If you work 40, reduce it to 20. Once I get to 10 hours a week of work, I’m going to try and reduce it down to 4 as soon as possible. I bet you can get the same amount of work done by strategically batching requests and eliminating the unessential.

25. Turn off your smartphone. What a terrible idea, giving yourself the ability to be constantly in touch via email. (full disclosure, I do have an iPhone. I mainly use it for capturing ideas via Evernote, taking photos, and communicating with readers via Twitter during set batched intervals.) Turn your smartphone off for periods at a time, if you can’t get rid of it completely. You’ll notice a world of difference, and you’ll be able to focus on the important.

26. Leave your phone at home. Go out into the world and leave your phone at home. Trust me, you’ll be able to tell what time it is. You can ask somebody! It’s important to disconnect from people once in awhile. If you’re constantly available, you’re simply going to be reacting to requests. Bonus: let every single call you receive go to voicemail first, then batch call everyone back at one set time per day. This will save you tons of time if you’re a heavy phone user.

27. Rearrange your house. Take a day and change how your home is arranged. Or maybe even just your living room or office. Put the couch on the other wall. Take the TV and throw it out the window. Consult a Feng shui expert (or ask the Internet) and make sure your space is obeying the right rules. When you’re done, the new perspective will help you refocus.

28. Go vagabonding. Put the essentials for survival in a bag. Book a ticket somewhere and just go. It doesn’t matter where you go, just go. Email the hostel and book a few nights, then take off from there. Don’t have a destination, don’t go see touristy stuff, just live somewhere new every single day. Read Rolf Potts’s awesome book Vagabonding for more on how to have this amazing experience.

29. Read different blogs. We fall into reading the same bloggers over and over again, but that can be a trap. I try to write about new things, and delve deeper into topics, but inevitably I’m still me. Other bloggers are still them. After reading a blogger for a number of months, you might find yourself just reading out of obligation. Try reading new bloggers to change things up.

30. Stop reading the paper. Newspapers are dead. Most of their employees have taken huge pay-cuts over the last few years. Most of their writers are forced to write about topics that they don’t have expertise in and don’t interest them. This leads to sloppy writing and boring stories. Stop reading newspapers, you won’t be missing much.

31. Eliminate obligations. People tend to collect obligations like we collect junk. The problem is that sometimes we don’t take stock to see if we’re getting anything out of them. Take a moment and make a list of everything you’re obligated to do every week. Now strike out everything that you hate doing. This can free up a huge amount of time.

32. Let it all go. Finally, just let it go. The world can do without you for awhile. Just relax and let things happen when they happen. Don’t worry so much, or you’ll get gray hair and you’ll need anti-depressants. When you let it all go, it’s only a matter of time before you start to refocus on your priorities and start to make great work.


Here are some links that will help you:

Be Your Own Guru by Jonathan Fields.

The Joy of Walking by Leo Babauta.

Paying it Way Forward by Colin Wright.

The Most Important Blog Post You’ll Never Read by Glenn Allsopp.


How do you refocus on your priorities?

If this article helped you, I’d love if you’d take 10 seconds and use your favorite method to share it.

Thank you.

Joshua Becker on the Power of Rational Minimalism

February 26th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

Simplify makes it clear that that minimalism isn’t just for the crazies.

Interview by Everett Bogue | Follow me on Twitter.

One of the most common comments I receive on my work is very simple:

“I wish I could be a minimalist, but I have kids and I don’t live in a city.”

Until Monday of this week, I didn’t have a good answer to that question. My idea of minimalism is extremely specific: I don’t want a house, a car, or things. My idea of being minimalist is having the freedom to get on a plane and go anywhere. But the reality is, not everyone has the same goals as me.

To be honest, sometimes I wonder if I will have the same goals as me. When I get older do I want to keep living out of a bag? Probably not!

Then, along came Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist with his brilliant book, Simplify: 7 Guiding Principles to Help Anyone Declutter Their Home and Life. My mind was promptly blown. I didn’t realize that there were so many different ways to approach being minimalist. It’s true though, minimalism is for everyone.

Joshua and I might be on other side of the minimalist spectrum from me, but our ideas could not be more similar. His e-book makes it extremely clear that anyone can pursue a minimalist life.

How to make minimalism fit your ideal world: Joshua Becker on the power of rational minimalism.

Everett Bogue: Joshua, you’re a huge advocate of ‘rational minimalism’. This is awesome, because I’m definitely the opposite of rational (throwing away all of my stuff, jumping on planes). Can you take a moment and explain to our readers what the difference is between a rational minimalist, and someone like me?

Joshua Becker: Since deciding to become minimalist two years ago, I have talked to a lot of people. During these conversations, I began to see a trend: many people were sure they would never become a “minimalist,” yet they loved the simplistic principles of minimalism. This intrigued me.

So I began to further probe their objections to “minimalism.” As I did, I found that they had a very bleak view of minimalism. They pictured rooms with little furniture or closets with only 7 shirts. They found the principles attractive, but not the practice. They quickly concluded that minimalism (as they defined it in their minds) was not consistent with their lifestyle or values. Ironically, I agreed… I didn’t want their description of minimalism either.

I began to address their concerns in my conversations and on my blog contending that minimalism does not have to look the way that they described. Instead, minimalism needs to fit your values, I would tell them. I began to define minimalism as “the intentional promotion of the things you most value and the removal of anything that distracts you from it.” It became less about removing possessions just to remove possessions… and became more about finding a lifestyle of simplicity that works for you and your family. People began to rally around that definition.

One day, a website linked to my blog with his phrase, “I like this guy’s idea of minimalism. It seems so rational.” And the name stuck: rational minimalism.

Everett, to be honest, I’m not all that sure “rational minimalism” is all that different from what you practice. To me, the term “rational” gives freedom to individuals “to use reason” in determining what possessions they keep and what they remove. You value the mobility and freedom that comes from fitting everything into one backpack… and have found a practice of minimalism that is rational for your lifestyle. It fits you perfectly. For me, I needed to find a practice of minimalism that valued my family, my faith, and my relationships… and it was always going to look different than yours. That doesn’t make one rational and one irrational – it makes both of them rational, even though they look very different.

Everett: So, wait a minute. There are minimalists out there who don’t want to throw out all of their stuff, hop on a plane and live and work from anywhere?!

Joshua: I guess that’s a good way to put it. Everybody has different personalities and different lifestyle preferences. That’s no surprise. Some love nature, others love the city. Some like to travel, others like to stay home. Some like digital photography, others like scrapbooking. Some enjoy the mobility of having no family, others want the stability of a large family.

Because there are so many different personalities and value structures, there is no one-size-fits-all description of minimalism. The actual practice of minimalism will always change from one individual to another based on their values. But the principles will always remain the same: remove the nonessential material clutter from your life so that the things that are most important to you can truly shine!

Everett: What is one way that rational minimalists are using minimalism?

Joshua: It seems the easiest place for people to start is in the removal of unnecessary physical belongings from the home and/or office. Starting with the physical, visible clutter is always the easiest step for people to see. Many of the stories that are shared on our blog begin with the realization that the “stuff” in their life is crowding out the important things in their life. Therefore, most people begin there.

However, what they don’t realize is that the process of beginning minimalist forces you to identify your values. You can’t remove the nonessentials until you begin to identify the essentials. Naturally, this process of identifying what is most important to you starts to spill over into other areas of your life. For example, it starts to change the way you spend your time, set your priorities, and how you spend your money.

Everett: How can our readers put that technique into play?

Joshua: In my e-book, I present 7 guiding principles to help anyone take this step of simplifying their life and experiencing the freedom that comes with it. Each of these principles is a direct result of specific lessons that we have learned. Those 7 principles will more adequately answer your question in detail.

But in the meantime, I would challenge anybody to begin this process by further pursuing the benefits of minimalism. Read what others have written about their experiences with minimalism and see if the results ring true in your own heart. As they discuss the freedom in life that they now enjoy… does that sound consistent? As they share about newfound freedom from stress… does that sound attractive? There are a number of blogs that represent the experiences of people who have chosen a minimalist lifestyle. And in a matter of minutes, you could begin reading them. See if your heart starts to warm to the idea.

Everett: What’s the biggest challenge that you faced on your journey towards being minimalist, how did you overcome it?

Joshua: The biggest challenge in our journey came immediately following the Christmas holiday six months after starting our adventure. We had just finished systematically minimalizing each room in our house and our home was finally clear of clutter… just in time for the Christmas presents to start arriving. It began with our gifts to each other. But then came more gifts from parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Our house became a cluttered mess, almost overnight. I was absolutely ready to throw in the towel saying, “What’s the use? We can’t win. This lifestyle is too difficult – especially with small children.”

Actually, if you were to read through our blog, you’ll notice almost two months of absence following December, 2008. Then in early March, I received a surprise comment via the blog from a reader that simply said, “Come back, Josh.” It turned out to be all the encouragement that I needed. With those three simple words, I was reminded why I chose the lifestyle, why I began blogging in the first place, and why it was not just possible, it was essential.

Let’s face it. Small children produce a lot of “stuff.” They outgrow their toys and their clothes. They color pages that they want to display on the refrigerator. They bring home artwork from school and homework that says “Excellent!” They receive gifts from friends and relatives on almost every holiday. It is truly a never-ending challenge… but the rewards of sticking to a simple, minimalist lifestyle are so worth it… for them and us.

Everett: What do you hope your e-book will help people accomplish?

Joshua: My hope for this e-book is that it will help make the principles of simplicity and minimalism attractive to the masses. I hope that the principles in the book will give people a freedom to find a “rational minimalism” that fits their unique lifestyle. And that it will give them the practical tips that they need to get started.

After reading the e-book, one woman put it this way, “I suppose I thought differently about minimalism in the past. I thought it was something that was unattainable for me as a mom of 3. After all a family of 5 generates a lot of stuff! But the more I thought about it, Minimalist really does describe the lifestyle I am after.”

That is my hope for this e-book – that people and families would begin to embrace a simple, rational, minimalist lifestyle and experience the freedom that comes with it. We have never regretted our decision and have desired to present this lifestyle as attractive to others.

Everett: Thanks so much for this opportunity Joshua, it was great speaking with you!


You can visit Joshua Becker at Becoming Minimalist.

You can preview the first chapter of Simplify: 7 Guiding Principles to Help Anyone Declutter Their Home and Life here.

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