Living Deliberately in 2020

Aaron Schnoor
3 min readJan 7, 2020

Years later, Walden still shows the importance of disconnecting from a connected world…

Image by Iswanto Arif on Unsplash

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”

So writes Henry David Thoreau in Walden, an 1854 novel depicting the author’s time of solace and self-exploration in the woods of Massachusetts. Thoreau lived alone for over two years, relying solely on his own labor to survive.

In Thoreau’s words, “Most men…through mere ignorance and mistake, are so occupied with the factitious cares and superfluously coarse labors of life that its finer fruits cannot be plucked by them.” A modern translation: we become so obsessed with the minutia of life that we fail to see the big picture.

If, in 1854, this was something that Thoreau worried about, how worried would he be today?

We live in a society that is practically inescapable. From the second we wake up to the second we fall asleep, we are inundated with text messages, emails, phone calls, and notifications. It’s overwhelming, to say the least. And because it’s so overwhelming, we risk losing the distinction between what is a precious moment of life and what is distracting.

How do we overcome this? How does one, in the words of Thoreau, escape to “live deliberately?”

Know your goals.

If, at the end of 2019, you were disappointed in what you accomplished, then were you really living deliberately? Did you know what you wanted to achieve? If so, then why did you not achieve it?

Take an hour to write down your goals. These can be personal, financial, academic, athletic — but, above all else, they are your goals.

Some goals may seem unattainable. But, as Thoreau wrote, “Man’s capacities have never been measured; nor are we to judge of what he can do by any precedents, so little has been tried.”

So know your goals. Put the list in a place where you will see it daily. Live with those goals in your mind, for you have not yet measured your own capacity.

Aaron Schnoor

Wealth Management Professional, Occasional Writer