One Year Lived Book Summary



Dr. Seuss inspired us with, Oh, the Places You’ll Go.  Adam Shepard inspires us with the places he went, in his book, One Year Lived.

Life’s short.  Then you die.  What will you fill your years with?

One Year Lived is a book about creating exceptional experiences.  It’s a book about going for it.  One Year Lived is the true story of Adam Shepard and how he spent a year, hopping around the World, choosing his own adventure.

It’s raw.  It’s real.

It’s dramedy, romaction, and suspense, all rolled into one.

It’s what happens when you take life by the horns, and write your story forward.

Even if you’re not ready to get your wanderlust on, One Year Lived, is a book that just might help you look at life from a fresh perspective.

Here’s my guided tour of One Year Lived

What’s in it for You?

  • Vicariously experience travel around the World as Adam takes you along on his journey
  • Remind yourself how to inspire yourself to create great adventures in your life
  • Learn how to use travel as a way to gain perspective and expand and explore what you’re capable of

Chapters at a Glance

  • The List
  • Gautemala
  • Honduras
  • Nicaragua
  • New Zealand
  • Australia
  • Philippines
  • Europe
  • Home

Features at a Glance

Here are some of the key features of One Year Lived:

  • Authentic — It’s not polished.  It’s not a fairy-tale.  It’s down to Earth.   Adam writes as if telling you the story from across the table.  He keeps it real.  The fish are not “thissss bigggg”, even the ones that got away.
  • Inside voice — Adam writes what’s inside his head, from fears to desires.  It’s part of what makes the book authentic.
  • Quotable Quotes — Adam lights up his book with his own words of wisdom, but he also draws from the wisdom of others.   For example, to make the point on how travel helps us separate fact from fiction,Adam quotes Samuel Johnson: “The use of traveling is to regulate imagination by reality, and instead of thinking how things may be, to see them as they are.”
  • Real-World Wisdom — Adam is human.  He makes mistakes.  We get to learn from his mistakes, including his two regrets.

Here is a sampling of some of my favorite nuggets from the book …

Do Your List

Don’t just talk about it.  Do your list.  Adam says forget bucket lists of things far off in the future:  “This list belongs in the present. This—right now, today—this is our time to live, yours and mine.”

Adam created a list, his sophormore year in college, of 142 items he wanted to do.  He affectionately called his list, the “List o’ Good Times.”  Here are examples from his list:

  • Run a mile on the Great Wall of China.
  • Sing karaoke in a foreign language.
  • Complete a marathon.
  • Provide a month’s supply of food for an entire African village.
  • Scuba dive in the Caribbean during winter.
  • Make a positive impact on a child’s life before I have children of my own.
  • Climb Kilimanjaro.
  • Smoke a Cuban in Cuba.
  • Hug a koala.
  • Ride an elephant.

Do Something Uncommon

If there’s one thing the author wants us to do, it’s to step out of the ordinary, and take more adventures in life.  Adam writes:

“Maybe it’s not practical for you to get missing for a year, but I hope you have the cojones to do something uncommon, whether for a week, a month, or longer. The next time adventure extends an invitation, I hope you’ll RSVP with a yes, please. And I hope you won’t be deterred by the financial sacrifices you may have to make.”

Choose Your Own Adventure

Exploring the world is a two-way street.  Adam writes:

“Get out there. Meet people. See places. Eat street food. Take a class or teach one. Inform yourself about the world and inform the world about you. Choose your own adventure.”

I Needed a Year to Live

If you’ve ever felt you were born for something more, maybe you were.  Or, maybe, things have gotten stale as you’ve fallen into your routines.  Adam felt the tugs and wanted to change things up.  Adam writes:

“But I still felt boxed in. Maybe I’d gotten a little soft. Maybe I’d neglected the best parts of life.

Maybe I’d become too regimented.  I needed a little perspective.

I’d be home soon to find a wife and conceive kids and construct a career, but right then I wasn’t worried about any of that.

I needed to get out there, just for a year.  I needed a year to live.”

Why I Took This Trip

Sometimes we climb the mountain because it’s there.  Sometimes we cross the road, to get to the other side.  Sometimes, we do things for the people who can’t.  Adam writes:

“People ask me why I took this trip, and now I know why. This trip is for me, indeed, and all of the good times I am destined to have.

This trip is for my seventy-year-old self, sure, but this trip is also for the Flora Herreras of this world, people imprisoned by their circumstances, who will never be able to take a trip like mine. She can’t, but I can, and I will.”

Experiences You Can’t Explain with Words

When you look back on your life, you won’t flip through your wallet.  You’ll flip through your experiences.  The experiences that go beyond words.  Adam writes:

“Everybody wants to tell you how to be a millionaire, and the idea is a sexy one, but maybe we spend so much time chasing shiny things that we forget that happiness also shows itself among those experiences that you can’t hold in your hand.

I gave up a lot to take this trip, and I’m glad I did.

I would love a pool in my backyard and pretty plants on the front porch and a new model in my driveway, but before I try to get those things, give me an experience I can’t adequately explain with words.”

It’s the People that You Meet

One of the greatest aspects of choosing your adventure, is the people you’ll meet along the way.  You never know who you might meet, or what others might see in you, that you don’t see in yourself.  Adam writes:

“I wrote pages about all her stunning qualities: that she can hold a conversation with anyone in the room; that she had already seen so much in her life yet still found simple pleasures in everyday occurrences; that she sat down to study Spanish for an hour despite her desire to be out playing; that she was confident enough to stand by an unpopular view and that she was humble enough to admit when she was wrong.”

There’s Nowhere in the World I’d Rather Be

Sometimes, the best place to be, is right where you are … even if that’s bunjee jumping off a bridge.  Adam writes:

“I spread my arms out wide above my head. I bend my knees. I rise up off of my toes. I curl my head down over the rest of my body. I dive. I soar.

An exhilarated shriek explodes through my lips, prying at my clenched jaw.

The world opens up.

My pulse pounds even harder.

I’m dropping. I’m flying. The forest widens, widens, widens—a sea of spiky green spreading beneath me.

The fall lasts a day, a week, a month.

Three-point-two-five seconds.”

Stand Where Greatness Once Stood

Greatness leaves a lasting mark, even among the ruins.  Adam writes:

“When I crossed over the border into Honduras, I had one goal in mind: get to the ruins.

Windows to the past, ruins offer a glimpse of a once-omnipotent society.

It’s a special experience to stand where greatness once stood, to see where ingenuity worked, to walk where nobility once walked.”

Places Where Desire Wilts

Have you ever been in a place that sucks the life force out.   It’s places like that, that remind you to appreciate what you have, and the choices you can make. Adam writes:

“This is the place where inspiration goes to nap and desire to wilt, the place you’ll never hear, ‘I’ve got a plan.’ A fantastic location to escape for a week but not two.

People in the streets just kind of wander around with no particular finish line; people in their homes just kind of sit there and wait.”

The Vibe We Put Out Into the World

The world is our mirror — it reflects back at us.  Adam writes:

“The one and only thing I’ve learned to be an indisputable fact is that our lives are only as satisfying as the vibe we put out into the world.”

Whether your goal is to hug a Koala, or climb Kilimanjaro, or something in between, maybe it’s time you let your inner-Indiana Jones, come out to play.

Get the Book

One Year Lived, by Adam Shepard is available on Amazon:

One Year Lived, by Adam Shepard

You Might Also Like

101 of the Greatest Insights and Actions for Work and Life

How Will You Measure Your Life?

Life Leaves a Mark

The Good Life

The Moment Where the World Stops


  1. I love this concept! Every day is a precious gift. The tragedy in Boston certainly brings that close to home. I’ve done many “uncommon” things in my life. These days, my adventures are more internal, but just as real. Maybe more so! Thanks for the review. I will order the book through my local independent bookstore!

    • It’s a powerful reminder to stay out of places where desire wilts, and put more of your vibe out into the world, wherever you are, wherever you go.

    • I remember watching a Kung-Fu movie, where the main guy said, “There’s no difference between a long life and short one. Both are just moments in time.”

      Of course, the key for us is to make the moments worth it.

      And, the other key is diving in, while taking the long view:

      “Dream as if you’ll live forever, live as if you’ll die today.” — James Dean

  2. Finding the balance between living in the day and planning / working for something bigger is such a challenge – thanks for the review!

Comments are closed.