• Adventures in Opting Out

  • A Field Guide to Leading an Intentional Life
  • By: Cait Flanders
  • Narrated by: Christine Lakin
  • Length: 6 hrs and 18 mins
  • 4.2 out of 5 stars (199 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Opt out of expectations and live a more intentional life with this refreshing guide from the national best-selling author of The Year of Less.

We all follow our own path in life. At least, that's what we're told. In reality, many of us either do what is expected of us, or follow the invisible but well-worn paths that lead to what is culturally acceptable. For some, those paths are fine - even great. But they leave some of us feeling disconnected from ourselves and what we really want. When that discomfort finally outweighs the fear of trying something new, we're ready to opt out. 

After going through this process many times, Cait Flanders found there is an incredible parallel between taking a different path in life and the psychological work it takes to summit a mountain - especially when you decide to go solo. In Adventures in Opting Out, she offers a trail map to help you with both. As you'll see, reaching the first viewpoint can be easy - and it offers a glimpse of what you're walking toward. Climbing to the summit for the full view is worth it. But in the space between those two peaks you will enter a world completely unknown to you, and that is the most difficult part of the path to navigate. 

With Flanders's guidance and advice, drawn from her own journey and stories of others, you'll have all the encouragement and insight you'll need to take the path less traveled and create the life you want. Just step up to the trailhead and expect it to be an adventure.

©2020 Cait Flanders (P)2020 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

“I emerged from Adventures in Opting Out feeling courageous. In these pages, Cait Flanders does more than simply inspire us to live with more depth and authenticity. She gives us rare, practical guidance on reaching beyond outworn cultural norms to discover - and to follow - the adventure that is ours alone to create.” (Lyanda Lynn Haupt, author of Mozart's Starling)

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Oh, the deep shame of being a failure at travel

Is this the same woman who wrote The Year of Less? I enjoyed that book though her youth (as a writer and a person showed). But it was the first time I realized I liked to read "Here's how I did this interesting thing" kind of book. Not a thing I want to do but that makes the reading all the more interesting. TYoL was also about half memoir--a favorite genre.

This book...what was it? Ostensibly a book about the steps one should take to "opt out" and hike for a year. Except hiking and any practical steps are almost absent from the book. Instead, Flander's gives psychological advice, which for me felt like a 16-yr-old giving advice to someone a decade older. You already know everything she says and like a 16-yr-old, there's a lot of stuff that is juvenile or downright strange.

This is a woman who (according to her last book) manages to pay off a lot of debt in a year, yet she takes off for the UK with money that's supposed to last a year but only lasts a month. For some reason she thinks with this sum of money (we don't know how much) she's going to be able to rent an apartment, plane hop to various places, and I guess rent a car (at one point she mentions one, though it was probably borrowed from a friend). She seems to spend the whole month staying with friends for free but still runs out of money. What she spent her money on, who knows.

I had more sense at age 17 when I took off on one of three "I'm leaving the country for I don't know how long" jaunts. Basically, I stayed in each country until my paltry sum of money ran out. I lasted for 6 months to a year each time. I always worked some so I could stay a little longer. Then I came home.

Flanders, though, feels this deep and abiding shame at running out of money and being a travel failure, and the reader has to suffer though her emotional outpourings (Was this the chapter she said was hard to write? Or was it some other deeply humiliating thing that I can't imagine anyone being ashamed of?) about this horrendous failure. And her advice? Good lord. Don't listen. She claims that people may be mean to you for "opting out," say hurtful things, you may lose friends, etc. She tells few people about this awful failure when she gets home because of all the emotional processing she has to do. And when people discover she's home and she has to admit to it? Pithy comments. OMG lady. You didn't do your research. You ran out of money fast. You came home. Big deal.

What world is she living in? Not mine. I did my traveling 3 or 4 decades ago. Nobody was mean, nobody said hurtful things, I didn't lose friends. So were people were more...normal...then? Or is it that Flanders just knows some narrowminded, mean people? The most I got from people was interest in the way I was living my life. And, yeah, maybe I was a little strange to those living more conventional lives, but nobody ever tried to stop me from leaving, criticize my choices, etc.

I never thought I was "opting out," and I was living a low-rent sometimes nomadic lifestyle. It never occurred to me that I'd hop on a plane and go to another country. I took the train. The train never occurs to her. Her friend has to suggest it to her but boo hoo it just doesn't go where she wants it to go. I guess busses, the metro, street cars, and walking did not cross her mind either. And the only cars I got into were ones that stopped for me because I was hitchhiking.

She tries again. This time she does a little research and I assume saves more money because she rents AirBnb places by the month to write this book. THAT'S opting out? Seems pretty conventional to me.

This book had little value on any level. If you want to read a memoir about hiking, read Cheryl Strayed. If you want practical advice on hiking, I'm guessing there are many, many books that actually give you advice.

My "favorite" bizarre tidbit was a one-liner about how most men are slightly uncomfortable with women who don't drink. Uh...yeah... She does mention (about a zillion times) that she had issues with drinking (but not an alcoholic, she stresses) and maybe she's just choosing the wrong men. After reading this book, it seems like she's chosen the wrong people in general--though you don't choose the family you're born into and they apparently don't agree with her choices and are vocal about it. My parents had the same expectations of me (few of which I fulfilled) but my parents kept their mouths shut, and I have never had this horrible angst about the choices I've made--not then or now.

So my ultimate takeaway from this book is certainly not the author's intention: This woman needs to go to therapy because she needs to deal with her (sometimes very strange) issues.

14 people found this helpful

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Perfect companion

As I’m thinking more about what to do next, and what do I want my life to look like… this book has been a perfect companion. Like having a friend as a sounding board, in a way. Because the author is so grounded, honest, insightful. Not a ‘self help’ book in tone or content - more real (and helpful) than that. I’m sure I’ll keep coming back to this book again through my life. Also the narration is excellent. I’ve heard the author speak on podcasts and at first thought she was narrating. It’s professionally and very well narrated - but what’s really unusual is how well the narrator seems to channel the essence of the way the author probably would speak these words. That’s a rare find - and makes listening to this book even better.

14 people found this helpful

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Enjoyed Reading this!

I really liked to hear about Cait's adventures. I have been opting out of things too and it has made me happier. It's great to hear others stories and I love that she reminds you that everyone will have their own unique to them opt out. Also a great reminder that failure is ok and you might hate the opt out you are trying and there's no reason to keep up with something that doesn't suit you.

12 people found this helpful

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Ludicrous!

The funniest part of this ludicrous book is that from the time I’m listening to this, the total amount of time that the author is talking about here - her experiences opting out - are three years! From the time she wrote this it couldn’t have been more than two years! It reminds me of a teenager who thinks they know it all based on the short number of years they’ve lived. The author is what, 31 maybe?! She writes like she has decades of experience on this subject. I had to stop - I was laughing too hard!

8 people found this helpful

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Excellent

Loved the book and message presented. Great listen after "The Year of Opting Out".

5 people found this helpful

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Not for Me

I do wish this had been more memoir than self-help book. The author tried to stay so general about the process of opting out in any aspect of life that the book felt too abstract. I also wish she had considered identities of privilege and marginalization; openness to awe is not equally accessible to everyone. I did not resonate with the extended metaphor of wilderness hiking.

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Should be listed as young adult

Great book for a 16-20-ish person maybe. For older it is Just. So. Boring.
Young woman decides to try to live life on her own terms, brands it "opting out," and seems to think it's something new.

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Unique Literal and Metaphorical Outlook

Cait offers a Unique Literal and Metaphorical Outlook on how she discovered how to live her life, and how she continues to live her life

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Lovely, peaceful, kind.

Firstly, although the reading was well done I miss Cait’s voice. I listened to her first book, year of less, in her own voice and was a bit sad this one was narrated by someone else, however she did do an excellent job.
Her first book was extremely motivating and I have both listened to and read it. This one is a more gentle approach. I got a lot out of it, but I didn’t love it as much because it felt like there were some redundancies and I would have appreciated less overview and more actual narrative. This is a picky thing, and I don’t intend it to undermine the content, which is good.

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Like the topic but redundant info

The reader was engaging, and I enjoyed the story initially, but the author repeated too much content. As the same story came up again it in later chapters or the struggle was repeated I lost interest.

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  • Sasha
  • 10-12-20

Loved it

Hiking is used as such a brilliant metaphor for the opting out journey discussed in the book. You needn't be a hiker for it to make sense.

This book felt so personal to me. I'm sure if there's an area of your life where you feel you aren't living in alignment with your values, you will likely feel the same.

Moving, thought-provoking and realistic, rather than idealistic, it felt like Flanders was in my head. Just as I thought, "what about this?", she addresses the thought in the very next section.

Brilliant. Listening for a second time straight away.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-29-20

Absolutely loved this book

Throughly enjoyed listening to Cait’s new book. I loved her first book and this is even better. I would highly recommend this book for anyone contemplating a new path in life and is fearful of change.