“A hundred years from now, what will you have left behind? What will your legacy be?”
That is the central question in the book 20,000 Days and Counting, subtitled ‘The crash course in mastering your life right now’. It’s aptly titled, for a crash course it is. In 18 short chapters the author, Robert D. Smith (often referred to as ‘TheRobertD’) offers insights, wisdom and advice on how to make each day count. The book was much shorter than I expected, I finished it in less than an hour.
The idea for the book came when Robert Smith realized he’s been alive for nearly 20,000 days and wanted to make each day after count. He decided to investigate how to do that and the result was this book.
On his website there’s a nifty little app that lets you calculate how many days you’ve been alive. For me that’s 14.131 days so I haven’t hit that 20,000 mark yet, but I want to make each remaining day count as well. It’s why I was very interested in reading this book.
There’s practical wisdom in 20,000 Days and Counting, for instance the importance of creating a life statement, to determine your purpose in life, to take responsibility for your life and your problems, the importance of the little steps, dealing with rejection, etc. Many insights may seem like clichés, but if we’d applied them more we really would live life differently.
Not all of what he offered appealed to me. He quotes a prayer for instant that he prays daily, which was taken from the famous The Power of Positive Thinking by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale:
I believe I am always divinely guided.
I believe I will always take the right turn in the road.
And I believe God will always make a way where there is no way.
To be honest, that is not my kind of prayer. Where as the scientific proof for the power of positive thinking is real, I like my prayers to be a little more personal, vulnerable and real. The first and third statement are absolutely true, but I don’t need to ‘pray’ these since God knows they are true anyways. The second one I do have a problem with, because of course I make mistakes, every single day. And I have taken wrong turns, only to be able to get back on the right road by the grace of God.
Overall, even though I liked the book and there was practical advice in it that helped me determine some practical actions, I was a bit disappointed by it. I’d read raving reviews (for instance from Michael Hyatt) and I had expected more, especially from a Christian point of view.
The book isn’t un-Christian (though this of course is very subjective), but it’s more of a positive-thinking-Christianity. I would think that the Bible has way more to say about making each day count, discovering your purpose, and living life to the fullest than what is written here. It seems to be the perfect book for those who believe in a problem-free, successful Christian life, but less so for those who want to take up their cross and follow Jesus, even amidst suffering.
I won’t go as far as to say this book preaches a prosperity gospel, but it comes awfully close if you ask me. My ‘test’ for that is to always wonder if the message applies to Christians who are persecuted for their faith as well. In this case, I wonder if Christians in the labor camps in North Korea would embrace the idea of ‘always making the right turn in the road’ and what their ‘purpose of life’ would look like…
So I’m not saying that you shouldn’t read this book, there really is valuable advice in there. I definitely learned a couple of things that I will apply to my life. But be warned that the Christian content may be less or different that what you’d expect or want to see.
Disclaimer: I received this book free as part of the Booksneeze program but was under no obligation to write a positive review.