By Steve Sanduski and Ron Carson
Reviewed by Gary W. Silverman, CFP®
Read this book! That said... Avalanche may be a best-seller, but it's no literary masterpiece. The settings are too perfect; the dialogue is contrived; the story is predictable. All that aside, you will identify with the characters, partnly because the authors, Steve Sanduski and Ron Carson, are both CFP® professionals who understand our world and have seen the same stories in their work that we do in ours.
Avalanche is one in a number of fairly recent books on finding your purpose in life. As a character says toward the end of the book: "Some people will never find their purpose, content instead to let a life of broken dreams and hopeless regret slowly bury them until all their oxygen is gone. Others will seek and discover the purpose in their lives and make a lasting difference."
Which do you want to be? Yes, that's a leading question, and one with an obvious answer. It is based on a neatly contrived quote. That's the way the book is. If you can get over that, it can change your life.
Sanduski and Carson relay their message through a story that depicts the spiritual journey of a middle aged real estate developer who is rich, but unhappy, and in need of making some major changes in his life. When he realizes that his relentless chase for material wealth has left the other areas of his life despairingly empty, he begins his adventure in discovering and redefining himself through his values, vision, and mission.
While spirituality is explored, religion is not a central theme. I have found it easy to integrate my religious beliefs into the process, and those without a religious mindset can easily emphasize or deemphasize the spiritual aspects.
To me the book is just a primer to the main course, a Web site with a process called Blueprinting: Living your life by design. This is not by chance. By themselves both the book and the blueprinting process fail. The book isn't great enough or descriptive enough to get me past the mere desire to do something. The Web site with its resources, lists, and forms is great for examining and ordering your life, but it has nothing to provide the momentum to get you started. Combined, they can be quite effective. What's really missing is a coach. For you self-driving introverts out there, you may not need one. The rest of you might want to pair up with a friend or spouse (they can be the same person) to go through the process.
Gary owns a fee-only financial planning firm in Wichita Falls, Texas. He is the host of the television show Falls Informer, editor of the financial newsletter Personal Money Planning, and writes the newspaper column Your Money.
Kaplan Publishing (July 3, 2007)