I never join book clubs. Mainly because I don’t read well (for pleasure) under timed pressure. One book per month – unless it’s a nerdy topic that I specifically enjoy (finance and/or history) – is a challenge. Two, I don’t enjoy bringing snacks. I will. It’s just running late is a nasty trait I have, but throw a snack detail into an already rushed schedule and the anxiety soars. Finally, I have trouble with routines. Meeting at such and such’s on the third Wednesday becomes a chore and less of a treasured gathering with friends. I have many issues…book clubs were one of them. Never say never. Via the magic of Facebook private groups, I’ve joined a virtual book club. It still operates under the one-book-a-month model, but there are no snacks and no routine Saturday afternoon meetups. Two out of three ain’t bad. Book Marked introduced me to the Last Lecture by Randy Pausch (Pictured below, middle).
I haven’t done a book review in some time. This one doesn’t really touch on personal finances at all. However, it’s largely applicable to our cause because of the heavy dose of inspiration, motivation, and encouragement to achieve your dreams. I’d never heard of a last lecture series. Apparently colleges invite speakers to give their hypothetical last lecture. Randy Pausch, a tenured professor at Carnegie Mellon, received a terminal cancer diagnosis right before being invited to give what would actually be his last lecture. Randy died in 2008 from pancreatic cancer. One month after his diagnosis, he put together a loose collection and random experiences and lessons from his past. The lecture was not about dying from cancer, but about living – and achieving those childhood dreams. His story is compelling, not in a million dollar, Hollywood blockbuster fashion. It’s simple. It’s heartwarming. It’s often funny. It’s just real. The Last Lecture is the sleeper hit without the big budget marketing campaign. Even though millions have already read the book (it was published in 2008) and/or watched the actual lecture on Youtube; I had never heard of it. I rarely read NY Times Best Sellers (or watch Oscar winning movies) – call me contrary. Thanks to Book Marked for widening my selection!
This book is relevant to our journey. We may not have dreamed as children to be debt free by our 30s, 40s, or 50s (Kudos to your parents if you did.), but it’s a dream now and a goal that will change a lot of lives once achieved. The Last Lecture reminds us to:
1. Dream BIG: Randy wanted to play in the NFL, float in zero gravity, become Captain Kirk, and work as a Disney Imagineer. No spoiler alerts here. Read the book to find out if and how he did them. His story reminds us to embrace those dreams, regardless of the cheese factor or believability. Write them down. Go for it. Do you want to be debt free? Make that happen!
2. Scale Brick Walls: My absolute favorite part of the book is the constant reference to brick walls and their purpose. Brick walls are for other people. He shared they exist in your life to prove just how much you want to accomplish a particular goal. Has your debt free journey hit a brick wall? Let’s figure out how to go over, around, or through that wall.
3. Have Fun along the Way: Disney theme parks should create a ride in honor of Randy Pausch. He was just way too excited about that company. What excites you? Find a way to incorporate that into your debt free journey.
4. Work Hard: There really are no substitutes. Work hard so you can play hard. Budgeting, expense tracking, sacrificing, and making mature spending decision gets old after 5 minutes if you’ve been living loose with money in the past. Unless the lottery gods smile in your direction or a distant rich uncle writes you into the will, your journey will include spending less than you make for a sustained period and paying off debt. It’s hard work. You can make it happen.
5. Don’t Go It Alone: A large part of his story included the appreciation of mentors in his life, the reliance on partners (including his wife), and a concept called communitarianism. Americans are known for our rugged individualism; which has its place. However, we also operate in communities – for obvious reasons. How can you encourage others? How can you ease the burden of your neighbors? These are great questions to ponder. My next post will be on accountability partners and I’m convinced that a great way to my debt freedom work.
If it’s not already obvious, I enjoyed the Last Lecture tremendously. For those who prefer to watch his story and have a free hour, it’s posted below.
I love this as it creates a record for his three small children. They’ll grow to know their father in a way that might not have been possible without this project. Have you considered what legacy you’d leave the world? Let’s make sure it includes the fulfillment of your debt free dreams!