Book title: Juliet’s School of Possibilities

Authors: Laura Vanderkam

Time to Read: ~55 minutes

Major themes: Prioritization

Like most of my books, I tend to grab whatever looks interesting in my local thrift shops or other used book store. I picked up this thin book at a local library’s book sale. Remarkably, it was published this year (2019), and my copy appears to have not even been read! Needless to say, it went right into the stash of ‘fill-a-bag-for-$5’ treasures.

After reading The One-Minute Manager, this sweet story was so refreshing. The author definitely made imagery and relatable characters a huge priority, and not at the expense of reading time. I was able to get through the book in just under an hour, feeling good and with an idea of next steps: my ideal outcome of a read like this.

The story begins with a young consultant, Riley, driving to a business retreat hosted by a Martha Stewart-esque home business mogul. We watch first hand as her life begins to crumble – broken relationships, lost clients, friends, romantic interests, her job on the line… all due to the inability of Riley to manage priorities. Between long bouts of emails on her phone, which climb well into the thousands, our protagonist has some interesting interactions with Juliet, the hostess of the business retreat, that open her eyes to the errors Riley has made in managing her life.

Now, I’m not exactly sure if our friend Juliet here is some kind of sorceress, with the visions and the impeccable work-life balance… regardless of how the lesson arises, the underlying theme is summed up in the following quote:

Expectations are infinite.
Time is finite.
You are always choosing.
Choose well.

Basically, we make conscious decisions from moment to moment on how to allocate our responding, and this needs to be based on our ultimate visions of our lives. When we use our time, we need to make sure that our behaviors are moving us towards the goals that help make our visions into reality. Often, we get caught up in menial, tedious tasks that are thrust upon us by others, and that aren’t contributing to what we ultimately want to do, and those things usurp our energy and impede our ability to get where we want to be.

The underlying message in the story is good, and there are some helpful questions and activities in the back to help one think through priorities, goals, and the like. My only critique would be that it’s very surface-level, and without the underlying knowledge of what makes a good goal, what’s a reasonable shaping step, how do I get from A to B… There is a lot more to think about. One cannot simply ignore every email, nor does everyone have an assistant (like both Juliet and Riley) to help manage that time-suck. However, the book is a nice trigger for these conversations to begin.

Overall, I give it a 4 out of 5 stars. The story is lovely, the characters and their struggles are relatable for me, but I would love a little more in the ways of concrete action steps. Knowing how these books are usually written, there will be more to come; workshops, workbooks, etc. This likely won’t be the last story I read from this author, as it felt more like a leisure read than a business book.