Life Done Differently: One Woman’s Journey on the Road Less Travelled by Lisa Jansen

Review by Jill Kaufman

Lisa Jansen’s memoir, Life Done Differently: One Woman’s Journey on the Road Less Travelled, is a telling of her personal conversion from a safe, secure job and life that was successful but unfulfilling, to an unconventional lifestyle, quitting a corporate job, living in a camper van full time, and travelling extensively. It details her preparation, travels, and adventures in New Zealand, described in amazing detail.  Along the way, she also realized the conventional marriage and children path was not for her.

As Jansen’s journey begins, she was tired of “living up to society’s expectations,” and wanted to  shift her energy from commuting and working to travelling and experiencing life, which was what ultimately made her happy and whole.  She was a planner, and was able to convert her lifestyle to van living permanently.  In her transition, she received much support from family, friends, even her employer, who allowed her to stay on and work remotely and part time.

On the topic of having children, Jansen describes how people so often don’t  admit that having them was a mistake.  But for some reason, people love telling  childfree people how unhappy they will be by not having children.  As she writes, “…it seemed odd people were so concerned those who choose to be childfree might regret it, while you never hear people voice that concern to those who are planning for parenthood.” And further discussing regret, she wisely points out that having children because you think you will regret it if you don’t is not a good reason to have them. She states, “I won’t have kids just because I worry I might not regret it if I don’t…I would much rather regret being childfree than regret being a mom.”

And like me, Jansen often wondered why she never wanted children. Jansen believes that  parenthood is absolutely a career choice — just like being a doctor or lawyer.  One of my favorite of Jansen’s lines is, “The main reason I was committed to a childfree life was that I was confident to be MYSELF.”  It also takes a lot of strength and courage to make a decision that is so opposite of what the majority does.

I recommend the book for several reasons: first, it shows how a person can successfully live an alternative lifestyle to the society’s norms, and be happier and more successful than if you sacrifice your happiness for a conventional lifestyle.  Also, her descriptions of her travels and adventures make me want to travel to New Zealand. And her description of van life is very interesting; it requires a lot of planning, but can be the ultimate freedom for the right people.


Thank you, Jill!

Jill Kaufman is a 50-year-old, divorced, childfree woman born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. She has a BSBA from Bowling Green State University, and is a Business Analyst at a utility.

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