photo: Wausau Fire Department

book review: the firestarter sessions

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photo: Wausau Fire Department

If you ever feel like you’re at a crossroads in your life, like you need to make a change or make a huge decision, I highly recommend reading The Firestarter Sessions by Danielle LaPorte. As it is explained on her website, the book

reframes popular self-help and success concepts to cut through dull thinking and fear, and get straight to one’s core desires, pragmatism, and courage — and burn some illusions to a crisp…

In simpler terms, this book is a workbook of sorts (there are actual “exercises”) to have you rethink your life and where it is going. It helps you look at your core identity in a more truthful light, and helps you figure out how to get back to your true self and live a life that celebrates your own passions and interests. Sounds fun, doesn’t it?

Before I get into discussion about the book, I must admit that the writing style wasn’t in line with my personal preferences. Danielle writes in an entirely conversational manner, as if you’re just chatting with her over a soy chai latte at a hipster coffee shop. She is vibrant with her language and has a laid-back vocabulary, using terms like “stoked”, “juicy”, and even “awesomesaucey” (I’m not kidding) to illustrate her thoughts. Not exactly SAT-level vocab words. As I am a fan of more classic writing styles, it took me awhile to get used to the informality of the book. It seemed a bit scattered in terms of organization and thought, almost more like a stream of random thoughts clustered together in order to inspire and ignite. I did read it on the Kindle, so that could have impacted how I viewed the structure. Not having a physical book with more identifiable chapters and “sessions” could have influenced my opinions.

Anyway, there were some really interesting ideas explored in The Firestarter Sessions, and I will post some of the most dramatic concepts as separate posts for future discussion. LaPorte really digs deep into the soul and unearths the natural roadblocks that we tend to create for ourselves. One particular quote that struck me was:

Self-doubt is so insidious that it not only renders us stuck in our lives, but it also actually weakens our ability to dream about what living unleashed would look like.

This hit home hard. Before I was strong enough to identify that I needed to make a career change, I was paralyzed with self-doubt; the self-doubt that I wasn’t smart enough to be in finance, the self-doubt that I wouldn’t ever be chosen for a promotion. What I had never considered was to throw those notions all away, that maybe imagining that I was confident in my career would actually will it to happen. I should have read this book years ago.

So while the book was filled with lightbulb moment lines and tweet-worthy inspirational quotes, I really think it is only a piece that is helpful if you already have the idea of what you want to do or change about your life. It doesn’t necessarily help you find the change that will work for you. Thus the title–The Firestarter Sessions. This book illuminates your passions and guides you toward a happier life, but it won’t hold your hand and tell you what to do. If you’ve picked up the book and intend on reading it, that’s the first step towards making that change. If it’s deep down inside you, reading this will help bring it up to the surface. Don’t be afraid–as the book states “Passion will always move you in the direction of your authentic self.” If you want to see where your passions lie, crack it open and read on!

photo credit: Wausau Fire Department