Thinner, Richer, Smarter: The Magic Bullet

Source: via Rachel on Pinterest


If you’re new to the idea of minimalism or stumbled upon this site while searching for a method for deciding what shoes to keep (1. you have to be able to walk one mile in them and 2. you have to have worn them in the last year) you probably haven’t read the wave of minimalist writers and bloggers that appeared in 2008 to 2010.

These were the people I was inspired by. They gave most of their possessions away and built small paperless online businesses that they ran from a beach in a developing nation. Their income was derived from sharing one secret: how they built a passive income business so they could live on the cheap and out of a backpack without a care in the world or a house plant to water.

Everyone wanted in.

I wanted in.

How could I do this? How could we, Chris and Henry and I, live in a hut on a beach in Thailand with just an Ergo baby carrier, a few cloth diapers and our swim suits? How could we do it and get out of debt and all our obligations?

We could read books all day, study Muay-Thai fighting and write novels. We’d eat nothing but fish, rice and local fruit and be super lean to go along with our awesome tans. Our passive income would grow and we’d pay off all our debt and wouldn’t have a care in the world.

We’d be thinner, richer and smarter.

It sounded really good.

Then I started reading more from these writers and bloggers. I even bought a few of their e-books and read those too.

Something didn’t add up. All of them had a passive income low-cost location independent lifestyle based around selling the same idea: selling books about creating your own passive income lifestyle by writing books. A vision of an Ouroboros, a snake eating its own tail, came to mind.

As Katy and I decluttered like mad in the fall of 2010 I stopped reading the bloggers who were touting passive income and location independence, and their e-books that showed you how to do it. I realized I didn’t want to live on a beach. I liked my life. I liked it even better without all the clutter.

After purging my home, ending the spending and cutting bills I realized there was no magic bullet for the modern ailments of stress, debt and that extra 20 pounds.

You don’t have to take a course or buy a product. You just have to change your mind. – Steven Pressfield, Turning Pro

No book or class or person can do it for you. You can buy the Nutri-System package or hire someone to organize your garage but YOU have to do the work. There might be a catalyst or inspiration but it’s up to you to make the change.

Simplifying has given me a lot but I can’t say it’s made me richer, thinner or smarter. Simplifying has been a trigger for change but I still had to do the work.

I still HAVE to do the work.

I have to debate purchases instead of impulsively opening my wallet for the latest shiny gadget that’s caught my eye.

I have to resist that slice of homemade cake. Or not.

I have to put away my laptop in the evening and not watch another episode of Damages on Netflix (so good!) to read a few more pages of Shantaram, a novel I have been doling out pages to myself from for over a year (beautiful writing).

If there is a magic bullet it won’t come in the form of a book or a course or anything that arrives with a receipt or money back guarantee. It’s not a blog post or a slogan on a t-shirt.

If there is a magic bullet you already have it. It’s waiting patiently for you. It’s always been there for you even if you buried it under years of shopping to feel good or using the guest bedroom to store all the stuff you never use but are afraid to let go of.

You’re the magic bullet.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Like this post? Share it:
  • Love it! Just the kind of mindset I need as I pack up my world possessions (again) and start thinking about the next phase. I have everything I need, and it isn’t packed in my luggage.
    Thanks for some inspiration.

  • Hm, despite my interest in minimalism and a simple life, I have never really clicked with these digital nomads and my expectation was never to be richer, smarter or thinner by resizing my life to suit myself and my family. I’m glad you’ve pointed this out to others, though, whose expectations may have been different. I guess many people are looking for something and feeling unfulfilled, especially the 20-40 age group, who have been told all their lives they could do anything. It must be an overwhelming feeling to have to meet that expectation and I find the (mainly male) digital nomads all seem to be frantically running away from something with anxiety about how life could turn out to be settled, secure, safe or what have you. Really?! Is that such a bad thing. Actually I feel a bit sorry for these people.
    I am glad to be learning to be more comfortable with less in a material sense, and am endlessly grateful for all that we have, including a home base, but mostly for my family and that is enough for me.
    Maybe it’s just all about “enough” and knowing when it’s there.

    • Well done on seeing the snake oil for what it was. I was initially enthralled with the whole concept. My interest quickly evaporated the more I read of those writers and their very narrow life. As you described, their freedom seemed to be based on avoidance of commitment.
      Not that I wouldn’t love to take the family to the south of France for a year and have my husband take a sabbatical from work. But we’re no digital nomads. We really enjoy our home life, our town and friends.

  • I needed this today (as I contemplate/procrastinate where to start with my own minimizing/simplifying project). What an inspiring post. Thank you!

    • I’m doing Life Your Way’s September Simplifying project. It runs the 2nd to last week of August. Kind of a get ready for fall series. Mandi has mapped out six days of decluttering/organizing areas.
      I’ll be posting my progress for the entire week. My home needs an overhaul since I let the dust bunnies take over in early pregnancy. :)

      • Oh, wow. That blog is awesome! I think pregnancy (and the twins’ first year) was a major downfall for my house. Use second trimester energy to your advantage!

  • Oh Damages is sooo good! :) We couldn’t continue with our lives until we’d watched the whole series in a week!

  • Also, more importantly, thanks for the inspiration. I really need to stop reading and start doing!

  • This is a huge challenge for me — a moment of inspiration on the web and I’m buying an ebook and then storing it on my computer to read “when I have time”. Such a waste on so many levels. Thankfully I’ve realized my tendency and force myself to wait and if I’m still thinking that the ebook, course, mentoring program, etc. is still REALLY what I need a few days later, I’ll let myself consider it. And, no surprise: 99% of the time, I’ve completely forgotten about said ebook, course, mentoring program. The other 1% of the time, I return and realize it wasn’t “all that” anyway. Your post was a great affirmation and reminder; thank you.

  • “Shopping to feel good.” That has been my biggest hurdle, especially when armed with a credit card and coupons and a clearance rack! I went to Macy’s for the first time since cancelling my credit card, and it was the strangest feeling to realize that I didn’t need or even want anything. In fact, walking around the mall felt like a waste of time. I’ve worked so hard getting rid of stuff, that the thought of bringing more into the home stopped me from even looking at all the useless items that used to beg me to buy them. Is this what contentment and freedom feels like? If so, it’s a wonderful feeling!

  • I don’t want to drag my child around the world either 😉 I’ve traveled some, and we will travel as a family, and she will have her own adventures later. What I want for us now is a simple, happy, quiet but inspired life in our small home with our limited possessions, learning every day, giving more to others, being kind to each other and ourselves.

  • You know what? My family DOES live the dream of living on a beach…but we do it for one month of the year. We have simplified our life/rearranged priorities in such a way that we are able to do this. And we find one month a year suits us just fine. One month gives us plenty of quality family time, as well as time to truly relax. But we (especially the kids) get restless to get home, to our friends and to our normal life, and to being productive. And being able to truly relax helps us be productive all the other months of the year. So for us, one month is just about perfect.

  • “I realized I didn’t want to live on a beach. I liked my life. I liked it even better without all the clutter.”

    I think that right there is the crux of the issue. Most of us don’t actually need a complete life overhaul. We just need to remove a bit of the noise and clutter so that the parts of our life we love can take centre stage again.

  • I am new to your blog and am loving it! Just reading one post from your website gives me enough motivation to get to work and start reorganizing and cleaning my house, and it has been on my to do list for two years! I have just finished the kitchen and love the results. I want to open my newly organized “junk” drawer just to see how nice it looks! Next stop- the family room! Thanks for what you do!

  • Rachel, I believe that crux of the matter is that most of us want quick solutions to life’s problems. I think that we look to people who seem to “have their act together” to shorten the Work that We ourselves need to do. The other issue is that when we look at bloggers like Leo, from we forget that he has been working on simplifying for 5+ years. The internet makes it seem like he is an overnight success and that we too can have that. I think that patience and persistence is key in the journey toward minimalism. One question for clarification, are you saying that makes most of their income selling “how-to” passive income books? It appears to me that Leo has different “products” he sells. Thanks for the thoughts !

    • Hi Del – No, I’m not saying Leo makes his income from selling “how-to” passive income books. He makes his income from simplifying books and courses. I enjoy and it was the inspiration for a lot of the people – like Everett Bogue – who wrote passive income business books.

  • I’ve seen this a lot among so-called “deal bloggers”. Sadly I started out as one myself until I realized that what I was doing was crappy. They get press coverage for paying off tens of thousands of dollars in debt by being “frugal”. They convince their readers that if they follow their website for all the deals and pay to come to their couponing seminars, they, too, can be rich! They command people to “hurry” and grab this “hot” deal before it’s gone! They don’t care that they are encouraging people to buy cheap junk that they don’t need. They fail to mention to the press or their readership that thousands of dollars of revenue from their websites (which are heavily laden with undisclosed affiliate links) sure helps pay off debt quicker than the average person. One I know claimed on her blog that she was “so blessed” that couponing enabled her to pay for her son’s private school. But in a meetup with fellow bloggers she bragged that her ads covered the cost.

    I really enjoy reading about people who happily live unconventional lifestyles, but when they’re dishonest about how they got there, they lose me. Fortunately the internet has introduced me to plenty of people who have honestly achieved great things through means that I can (and want to) emulate.

  • “Something didn’t add up. All of them had a passive income low-cost location independent lifestyle based around selling the same idea: selling books about creating your own passive income lifestyle by writing books.”
    I used to be on the mailing list of SO MANY of these “gurus”, until I realized that all they were ever doing was pushing a product to teach you how to live like them (ummm, getting rich off of telling other people how to quit their jobs and travel the world with one pair of underpants or whatever).
    We are in the process of getting rid of nearly everything unnecessary in our lives, but the reality is that my husband is an amazing, talented self-employed carpenter. He has zero interest in becoming a digital nomad. So our garage is full of tools, etc. that are completely necessary to our life. And that’s fine with me! Also, I am currently 16 weeks pregnant with baby #3, so any globetrotting is on hold indefinitely.
    It is exciting to see what minimizing is already doing for us, even though my goals are far different that many of the writers of the original minimalism blogs I read.

  • Google reader put an ad at the bottom of this post, so it read something like this:

    You’re the magic bullet.
    Order Now!

    Oh, the hilarity!

  • Rachel, I absolutely love this post.

    I must admit, I listen to podcasts, read blogs and am interested in learning more about creating digital products for a decent income. I also dream of taking a year or two to live abroad with my husband and the kids – one year in Canada, one in Thailand.

    But do I think living like that – particularly forever – would make my troubles disappear? No way. There’s something to be said for a home base and for the support network that is there for you.

    But I think it’s awesome to think outside the box, live outside the box if you want. Just don’t expect that to make your life perfect.

    Also – the magic bullet: genius. I’m experiencing a magic bullet awakening myself at the moment and you’re right – it’s been there all along.

  • You’re so right! I have to do the work. This is why I like your blog – you motivate me to do the work myself by giving me a real life example of what you have done. You’re real!
    Thank you!

Comments are closed.