Over the life of this blog, I’ve recommended books and blog posts by an author named Joshua Becker. Joshua is the founder and primary writer of the website Becoming Minimalist, one of the leading minimalism blogs.
Joshua defines minimalism as the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of everything that distracts us from it.
It’s not about living in a 200-square-foot tiny house and only owning three pairs of underwear.
Minimalism encourages us to remove distractions from our lives to make way for what’s most important.
This has been a struggle for me, particularly with young kids and gift-wielding grandparents.
I met Joshua at a financial conference and was featured as a guest post author on Becoming Minimalist. I’ve also contributed multiple financial articles to his online magazines Simple Money and Simplify Magazine.
Joshua’s new book, Things That Matter, is out this week.
Spoiler alert: The book is not about minimalism. It’s much broader than that.
I received an advanced copy and found a ton of value in its contents. I often felt Joshua was speaking directly to me through the book, as the topics address personal dilemmas I’ve faced since becoming a Dad and writer.
So today, I’m giving away my advanced copy plus four pre-ordered books to five random readers. Read on to learn how to enter the drawing to win a free hardback copy (or take this shortcut).
Things That Matter: A Brief Review
Readers of Cal Newport and other authors may be familiar with the problem that our modern lives are littered with distractions that prevent us from becoming the best version of ourselves.
Overcoming distractions to focus on meaningful work and relationships is a key to a happy and fulfilling life.
While Newport’s writing is more about productivity and maximizing professional output, Things That Matter is about aligning your values and purpose with your day-to-day life.
The book is about overcoming our fears, self-doubt, selfishness, bad habits, and indecision.
The author commissioned a survey to acquire data to strengthen key points and uses more than a dozen human stories to illustrate success in overcoming distractions throughout the book.
The first chapter starts with a challenge to ask yourself if you died today, what’s the one thing you’d regret not having done?
I’d expect most people have an answer to that (I knew mine right away). There’s also an exercise in the book’s back to help you find your purpose and answer the question.
Think of your purpose as the objective. The rest of the book is about the obstacles (distractions) preventing you from achieving your objective.
He categorizes distractions, then offers reasons and tactics for overcoming them. Here are the distractions:
- The distraction of fear
- The distraction of past mistakes
- The distraction of happiness
- The distraction of money
- The distraction of possessions
- The distraction of applause
- The distraction of leisure
- The distraction of technology
The chapter on distractions of fear was very much about achieving your potential. What’s holding you back from leaving a career you don’t enjoy?
I read that chapter twice.
Distractions of happiness and money require self-reflection on why we earn and save. Money itself doesn’t make us happy. Joshua points out that money gives us the freedom to serve others — a more authentic root of happiness than money.
Decluttering takes center stage in the chapter on possessions providing an overview of minimalism for novices. Its benefits go far beyond preventing Lego-induced foot punctures.
Joshua shared a personal and embarrassing story of success and jealousy in the chapter on applause to make an important point.
The author was somewhat critical of retirement and “working for the weekends” in Chapter 9, Beaches Get Boring (distraction of leisure).
He argues that leisure is meant to retool and reflect so we can perform our best work when vacation is done, well past the traditional retirement age. People who prioritize leisure (beaches, golf, television) end up regretting it.
The author makes some good points and shares a compelling story of how his grandfather worked until nine days before his passing, at age 99.
The main takeaway from Chapter 9 is that finding your purpose to serve others through your passion and talents is more fulfilling than a life of self-centeredness and leisure.
But many people will never find their purpose and will only ever work for a paycheck. For those people to aspire to leave that life for one of mostly leisure is OK, in my view. This book is not intended for that audience. It’s for people looking for a positive change in their working lives.
From my perspective, beaches don’t get boring if you explore the right ones, their surroundings, and the people and cultures that make them unique. Traveling for leisure and connection with others worldwide is one of life’s most fulfilling experiences.
Beyond distractions, stories, and tactics, Joshua shares his journey from being a pastor to becoming a full-time minimalism blogger and global orphan advocate.
What’s so powerful about this book is how it requires you to repeatedly challenge your beliefs and current life situation.
Each chapter made me rethink my priorities, especially around my career and money. Based on what I read, I’ve already changed my mindset and some behaviors, and I’m hopeful these changes become permanent.
Joshua asks the reader to write the last sentence of the book. Today, I will remove distractions so that I can________.
How to Win a Free Copy of Things That Matter
From time to time, I give away books on this website by authors I know through blogging and conferences.
Previous giveaways include:
- Retire Early with Real Estate by Chad Carson
- Work Optional by Tanja Hester
- Choose FI by Chris Mamula, Brad Barrett, and Jonathan Mendonsa
There are five copies of Things That Matter to give away.
I received about 100 entrants for the last few giveaways. That’s a 1:20 chance of winning if there’s a similar response.
So I recommend you buy the book to ensure you get a copy. I may earn a few pennies if you use the Amazon links in this article to buy the book.
These are hardbacks, not emailed PDFs or Kindle bytes. The winners will receive a snail-mailed book copy and a handwritten note from me.
A few rules.
- Winners must reside in the United States to maintain reasonable shipping costs (although one previous winner was in Guam — cheaper than shipping to San Francisco).
- Previous book winners will not be selected.
- This drawing will be random (numbered list in a spreadsheet, then I’ll ask my kids to roll dice or draw numbers).
- When you fill out your submission below, I’d love to hear your ideas on future article topics. So feel free to include a note about that or anything else. This field is optional and will not influence who wins.
Submissions will be accepted between Thursday, April 21st at 6:30 am EST and Sunday evening, April 24th at 11:59 pm EST.
I’ll contact the winners via email early next week. You’ll have five days to respond with your full name and physical mailing address. If I don’t hear back, I’ll pick another winner. Once all winners are confirmed, I’ll update this page to let people know.
That’s a wrap! I received 109 submissions to win the free book.
I’ll draw the winners today and send out emails to get mailing addresses. Each person who submitted has a 4.5% chance of winning.
Thank you all for the article suggestions and kind words in your submissions. I’m really floored by all the positive feedback and ideas.
I hope to use this feedback to create new articles. I might even share some of what I heard in a future article. Sorry I cannot respond to each message, I wish I could.
Photo credit: pixel2013 via Pixabay
Craig is a former IT professional who left his 20-year career to be a full-time finance writer. A DIY investor since 1995, he started Retire Before Dad in 2013 as a creative outlet to share his investment portfolios. Craig studied Finance at Michigan State University and lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and three children. Read more HERE.
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