I am super privileged to have received an advanced copy of Colin Wright’s new book ‘Act Accordingly‘. I am even more excited he agreed to do an interview so I could share with you more about him and his ideas.
I have been following Colin since I first discovered the minimalist idea. He is an awesome example of someone who is thinking for himself and creating his own life. In his latest book, Act Accordingly, he talks a lot about his ideas and outlook on life.
So here we go!
Interview With Colin Wright
Before we get started, tell me a bit more about yourself. How would you introduce yourself to someone new?
The quick answer that I usually give is that I’m an author, entrepreneur, and full-time traveler.
The first because I primarily make a living from my written work these days, the second because I’ve been running companies since I was 19 (and today run a publishing company), and the third because most of the time I’m moving to a new country every four months, based on the votes of my readers.
You have been a minimalist for a long time. Could you tell me more about why you chose a minimalist life and the difference it has made to you?
You know, I actually stumbled into it accidentally. I was planning an escape from a high-end life I’d built for myself in Los Angeles, and in the process started getting rid of things I couldn’t take with me while I traveled, intending to put the rest in storage. Along the way, however, I realized that most of my technology would be obsolete when I got back, and my clothing out of style, and that was assuming I’d ever come back in the first place, so I just got rid of everything. Everything that wouldn’t fit into a carry-on bag.
It felt so good to do so that I started applying the same concept to the rest of my life — my activities, relationships, the work I did. Only the things that really brought me value stuck around…
…while the rest was left behind.
It allowed me to focus on those important things, and put more of myself into them, and as I started writing about this kind of thing, my readers started telling me I was a minimalist. I took to the title and decided to define my own flavor of minimalism, which is a big part of my philosophy, today.
You are a pretty big traveler. Can you explain how you pick the countries you visit? How many countries you have seen now? Which have been your favorites?
My readers actually choose for me, which takes a lot of the pressure off!
I’ve visit somewhere between thirty and forty countries, and lived in seven. It’s impossible to choose a favorite, because they were all amazing and flawed for different reasons — all countries are — but Iceland is one I keep returning to because of what it offers in terms of standard of life, New Zealand is the most naturally beautiful place I’ve ever even heard of, and Thailand and India were the two places I was most challenged.
I love the way you are an example of living an intentional life, one of your own creating, instead of following societies ideas. We will be talking about money next week. Do you think living intentionally is more expensive? Is it only open to people with money?
Absolutely not — it can be, but it doesn’t have to be. I spend far less money now than I did when I was living in Los Angeles (somewhere in the area of 20% of what I spent back then, in fact), and I live far more intentionally these days. At the end of the day, being intentional just means you’re more choosing how you spend your time, energy, and resources (including money), so I think most people who try to do so will spend less over the course of a year, even if individual purchases are more expensive (say, you invest in a pair of shoes that will last years, rather than buying many cheaper, trendier models that will fall apart in weeks).
And I do think it’s something anyone can do, if they really want to. You have to want to in order to make it work, though, because being intentional means knowing yourself and what you want out of life, and that’s a really difficult thing to figure out. No one can help you figure it out, either, because it’s so unique and personal. Take the time, figure out what you want, and then move toward that, rather than all the other distractions. Do that, and you’re on the right track!
In your new book, ‘Act Accordingly‘ that was just released, you talk about challenges and the value in trying hard things. You are definitely speaking from experience. What has been one of the harder challenges in your life that you have been able to overcome?
Failure is a difficult thing to overcome, and I’ve had more than my fair share of it.
My first business, which I started in college, was a magazine, and it did really well right out the door. I felt invincible for a while there, but only because I didn’t realize how bad things could get until they did. The business collapsed, I let a lot of people down, and I wanted to run and hide in my room and never come out again.
But I left my room, picked up the pieces, and moved forward. It ended up being a great lesson, and I was able to do far better with my next business, and even better with the next.
Life is full of challenges, and the mark of whether you’ll deal with them positively is whether or not you see them as opportunities or pitfalls. They can be both, certainly, but if all you see in a bad situation is a bad situation, then you’re walking away less, rather than more, and that’s kind of missing the point.
You recently started a publishing company called Asymmetrical with the guys over at ‘The Minimalists‘. Can you tell me a bit about the company and why you decided to start it?
Yeah! I’ve been wanting to start a different sort of publishing company for a while — one that was author-centric and didn’t play the dirty legal games that many publishing companies play these days. Joshua and Ryan felt the same, and when I showed them the business plan for what I had in mind, they were in.
Fast forward a bit, and we set up shop in Missoula, Montana, a place we’ve been staying since February, building the foundation for the company before I hit the road again in September. We’re publishing our collective work through the company, and the work of three other authors we’ve taken on, and we can’t wait to keep on expanding this thing, which has already proven to be a challenge, but the good kind, and one that pays off generously (for everyone involved).
We also wanted to make sure the company provided free resources for all authors as a byproduct, and our Asymmetrical Community has filled that role, and we’ll be publishing some complete, step-by-step ‘How to Publish an Indie Book’ resources in the coming weeks. Not something that most companies can justify spending resources on, but it’s the nature of how we want to do business, giving back whenever and however we can.
Your book has a bunch of great concepts in it. I really like the idea of Lífspeki. Could you explain a bit about this concept as a taste of what readers will find in your book?
Absolutely. Lífspeki is an Icelandic word that doesn’t have a direct English translation, but means, roughly, ‘the philosophy by which one lives their life.’ In essence, you can have a philosophy you believe in, but don’t act upon. What you actually do, however, and the philosophy you produce through those actions, is your lífspeki.
One of the core concepts I focus on in Act Accordingly is the idea that we can’t just have ideals — we have to act upon them. And if your ideals are not something you can translate into action, it may be time to develop new ones. It’s a very practical approach to living what you believe, and one that was revelatory to me. I’m hoping folks who read the book feel the same way!
What would you say to someone who is wanting to simplify and start creating their own life?
Figure out what’s important, establish goals based on that information, and then move toward those goals like a bullet.
This is the most important thing in the world to you, so nothing should stand in your way — nothing could be more important than the most important thing in the world!
So remove the distractions and figure out what makes you happy. Then act accordingly.