The shortest route to freedom

“The shortest route to the good life involves building the confidence that you can live happily within your means (whatever the means provided by the choices that are truly acceptable to you turn out to be). It’s scary to imagine living on less. But embracing your dreams is surprisingly liberating. Instilled with a sense of purpose, your spending habits naturally reorganize, because you discover that you need less. This is an extremely threatening conclusion. It suggests that the vast majority of us aren’t just putting our dreams on ice – we’re killing them.”

I chanced across this 2002 article by Po Bronson, ostensibly an overview of his book What should I do with my life? (a book that profiles the careers of fifty interesting people and extrapolates prescriptions on how to tap inner callings). The article contains some insightful passages and is worth a read.

There are further sample chapters at the author’s tie-in webpage.

One thing I notice from Mr. Bronson’s profiles, is that most people who make breakthroughs about how they want to spend their life, start with a fallow period during which they contemplate the big question. One person spends six months in bed after a car accident, planning the changes he’d like to make once he’s back in the game. Another person deliberately quits her high-pressure job to spend three years mulling over the prospects of what she really wanted to do all along.

To me, this helps to confirm that the escape from depressing commitments is the first step toward committing yourself to something useful and that you’ll act deliberately when you’re good and ready. If dissatisfied, take the plunge and escape. You’ll soon find yourself making plans.


Robert Wringham is the editor of New Escapologist. He also writes books and articles. Read more at

Leave a Reply

Latest issues and offers


Issue 14

Our latest issue. Featuring interviews with Caitlin Doughty and the Iceman, with columns by McKinley Valentine, David Cain, Tom Hodgkinson, and Jacob Lund Fisker. 88 pages. £9.


Two-issue Subscription

Get the current and next issue of New Escapologist. 176 pages. £16.

Four-issue Subscription

Get the current and next three issues of New Escapologist. 352 pages. £36.

PDF Archive

Issues 1-13 in PDF format. Over a thousand digital pages to preserve our 2007-2017 archive. 1,160 pages. £25.