Book Review
Title: "Repacking Your Bags: Lighten Your Load for the Good Life"
Author: Richard J. Leider and David A. Shapiro
Publisher: Berrett-Koehler, 2012; 240 pages; $17.95

I’ve long thought that conceptualized real estate decision-making — the intention and strategy that underlie our choice of location, mortgage, price point and property type — is the ultimate exercise in lifestyle design.

The place we live is inextricably intertwined with our relationships, our work and how we spend our leisure time, both impacting and being impacted by all these areas of our lives in innumerable ways, some of which we can’t even anticipate until the web of impacts have begun to be spun.

I’ve seen homebuying impact adult children’s relationships with their parents, when the son or daughter accepts a down payment "gift" that is given with many, unspoken strings attached. And I’ve seen a previously fearful homebuyer grow more assertive than ever before in pursuing the lifestyle of her dreams, starting a new business and traveling the globe, emboldened by her success at this complex, daunting transaction.

This web is why I so often encourage homebuyers to write out, journal or otherwise lay out their holistic vision of the life they want to live after they move into the home they are about to hunt for, before drilling down into the minutiae of bedrooms, bathrooms and square feet.

And this web is beautifully detailed in the new, third edition of the international best-seller "Repacking Your Bags: Lighten Your Load for the Good Life" by professors and coaches Richard Leider and David Shapiro.

This is by no means a book about real estate; it is a book about how to compose and recompose a fulfilling, inspired and plain old "good" life, as often as you need to, throughout your lifetime. In fact, part of what is unique about "Repacking" is that the authors have written three editions of it over 20 years, and comment transparently throughout about how the philosophies, tools and systems contained in "Repacking" have evolved as they have lived their own "good life" journeys.

But Leider and Shapiro provide a succinct definition of what the good life is, and home is an essential element: "living in the place you belong, with the people you love, doing the right work, on purpose (emphasis added)."

The whole of "Repacking" is devoted to helping readers unpack and repack these four elemental "bags" that we all carry through life with a framework that helps us to carry no more and no less than what makes us happy at the various transition points in our lives where we crave to figure out what’s not working and course-correct.

"Repacking" guides readers through assessing where they stand and where they want to stand vis-à-vis each of the four "bags" — place, relationships, work and purpose — then offers dozens of stories to inspire any repacking that needs to take place, and dozens more tools to execute it. Here are a few of those tools:

1. Reboot. First-gen repackers were often prompted to rethink things by a midlife crisis; now, say Leider and Shapiro, people repack early and often, throughout their lives.

But our busyness makes it difficult to stop, seek and find meaning while we’re on the treadmill the authors call "hurry sickness — always going somewhere, never being anywhere …" They encourage readers to reboot their lives by taking a 12-hour media fast, consuming no TV, radio, Internet — not even using the phone — for half a day, instead devoting that time to consider some key questions about our relationships, our lives and our purpose.

The next step, for those who dare take it, is a 24-hour vacation from speaking. For both steps of their "reboot," Leider and Shapiro offer "purpose points," "core questions" and "repacking reflections" that readers should examine to take full advantage of these self-imposed time-outs.

2. Resharpen your growth edge. Unique to this edition is Leider and Shapiro’s repeated call to readers to reinvent and repack their bags, not just out of ennui, but in order to keep up with the rapid changes in the workforce and marketplace. They write, "[i]f the rate at which you’re learning is not equal to or greater than the rate of change today, you’ll soon be obsolete."

The authors encourage readers to conceive of their personal development as just as essential to thriving as a company sees its research & development initiatives. Ideally, "Repacking" involves constantly exploring new opportunities and building new skills, always looking to learn something new that excites you.

3. Reframe. Leider and Shapiro urge readers to reality-check themselves on how they are "spending two of (their) most valuable currencies: (their) time and (their) money" by sitting down with their actual calendars and checkbooks and asking themselves how satisfied they are with where these resources are going. If you find yourself spending either on things you wouldn’t deem priorities, then it might be time to repack in one or more area(s) of your life.

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