Choose Yourself: Be Happy, Make Millions, Live the Dream

Choose Yourself: Be Happy, Make Millions, Live the Dream

by James Altucher

In Choose Yourself, the author pulls no punches as he explains how the world economy is changing, jobs and the middle class are disappearing, and there’s no one coming to save you. Laced with lots of witty anecdotes, the book outlines how the American dream is dead and you’re better off controlling your dreams instead of expecting a corporation to take care of you. The book recommends that you start choosing yourself by practicing daily habits that develop your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. A strong foundation in these 4 areas can be the launching pad to create the life you desire.

Summary Notes

Rejection is not the end of the world

“Rejection—and the fear of rejection—is the biggest impediment we face to choosing ourselves”

We’ve all faced rejection at some point in our lives. It’s a painful thing to deal with. Unfortunately, there’s no escaping the fact that if you put yourself out there every day, you’re going to experience it. You could get hate mail, hear rude comments, be refused access to opportunities, and even be disrespected after doing someone a favor. You can’t control this - the only thing you can do is learn to handle it.

Many of us expect stable or permanent employment, but the world is changing dramatically. The middle class is disappearing, jobs are being automated and incomes are going down. You can no longer choose to be an employee for decades and expect a sufficient pension at the end of it all.

In this new reality, you have to choose yourself instead of serving a corporation that can easily get rid of you. Choosing yourself means having the self-confidence to walk away from exploitative corporatism, creating your platform, and defining success on your terms. You can choose to become an artist, creator, entrepreneur, or investor. If you don’t, then you’ll end up a temp staffer who relies on a corporation that doesn’t care about you. 

To succeed on your own, you have to get used to rejection. You have to maintain your passion even after rejection and develop a strong physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual foundation. By building yourself up in these four areas, you can stand on your own feet and not rely on the whims of a boss to succeed in life.

Actions to take

Choose to be free instead of fighting for freedom

“Now there is a new addiction. “All I want is freedom,” a lot of people say. But freedom from what? Who is enslaving you that you can’t get away from?”

We all have addictions. These are things we enjoy doing but can gradually lead to burnout, leaving you worse off than before you started. You can be addicted to work, money, sex, fame, drugs, love, games, etc. The problem with addiction is that it’s difficult to see the damage it’s causing, and by the time you realize it, you’ve already lost the things that matter most to you.

In today’s society, people are addicted to the idea of wanting freedom. Most people spend so much time fighting for freedom when all they have to do is choose to be free. The average person will sit at a desk all day doing a job they hate while telling himself that he wants to be free one day. Yet no chains are binding him to his desk. All he needs to do is realize that he is free and act accordingly.   

We are living in the Choose Yourself era where it’s easy to take control of your life and achieve success on your terms. Saying yes to things you don’t want to do only leads to anger and resentment, which saps your energy and reduces your productivity anyway. The fire within you burns out because you’re depending on others to cultivate it. While it’s true that you may have mouths to feed and other responsibilities to take care of, you can start cultivating your internal fire by prioritizing your physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health.

Actions to take

When in a crisis

“Sometimes emergency procedures are required. But then you have to get back to living. You have to get back to the basics of how to survive”

Imagine you have no money in your bank account, your rent is due within a week, and your business has failed miserably. Nobody wants to hire you and you can’t afford to buy food. This is a scenario that many people face when they lose everything they own and can barely get access to basic needs. So, what do you do when your life is turned upside down and it seems like there’s no way to get back up?

During such a crisis, it’s difficult to even get out of bed in the morning. It’s hard to appreciate the little you still have in your life and see the abundance around you. But this is precisely what you must do. 

You have to find it within yourself to climb out of bed and be grateful for the little things. You may not be in the mental state to think about things like exercise or meditation but you can still get back to the basics of surviving the day. You have to look around you and find opportunities to reflect on the bounty that’s in your life. No matter how bad things get, remember that love and compassion can overcome anything. Sometimes you simply have to love yourself out of a terrible situation.

Actions to take

How to quit your job

“Abundance only comes when you are moving along your themes.”

Most people believe that entrepreneurship is tough and thus they choose to follow the path of 9-5 employment. While it’s true that being an entrepreneur can be challenging, the alternatives are often less fulfilling in the long run. Choosing to work in a cubicle may seem like the safe route but it leaves you at a disadvantage compared to someone who decides to start their own business.

For example, an entrepreneur can make their own hours instead of being forced to attend meetings or get on calls like an employee. They can choose which clients and colleagues to work with and which annoying ones to get rid of. They can put their creative ideas to the test without worrying about what a boss will say. The best part about entrepreneurship is that you’re not at the mercy of one decision-maker who can decide to ruin your life.

But can you walk away from your job just like that? What about the bills you have to pay? Nobody is telling you to quit your job today. However, you can start taking little steps to free yourself from the trap of employment. You can figure out the major themes that motivate you to become a better person and then start taking action to move your life in the direction you desire. Soon enough, you’ll create the abundance you need to comfortably step away from your job.

Actions to take

Become a master salesperson

“Everyone has a “yes” buried inside of them. A good salesman knows how to find where that “yes” is buried and then how to tease it out”

There are a lot of benefits to going to school. Unfortunately, school rarely teaches you the things that you need to thrive and succeed in life. For example, schools don’t teach you how to come up with creative ideas, how to deal with failure, or how to bounce back after a failure. Furthermore, school doesn’t teach you one of the most important skills necessary for success—how to sell.

You see this all the time when someone asks for time to share their “good” idea with you. When someone says, “Can I have 30 minutes of your time?” they are implying that your time is worth zero and are not willing to offer anything in return for it. Even if they promise that their great idea can make you a lot of money, there’s still no evidence that their idea is worth anything. So, why do they expect you to give them your time?

If you want to be a good salesperson, you have to know how to entice the other person to say Yes. Unfortunately, such skills are not taught in schools. You can get by as a poor salesperson when working at a job but you need to be a master salesperson if you desire to be a successful entrepreneur. If you want to build any kind of a successful business, you have to learn the right selling techniques.

Actions to take

Become an idea machine

“The idea muscle is no different than the writing muscle. It’s no different than your leg muscles, for that matter. If you don’t walk for two weeks, the muscles will atrophy. And you’ll need physical therapy in order to walk again”

Apart from taking care of your physical, emotional, and spiritual health, choosing yourself also involves developing a strong mind.  This is something that you can do every day if you want to prevent your mental muscles from atrophying. Most people get stuck when coming up with new ideas because they haven’t spent time developing their idea muscles. In fact, even people who come up with amazing ideas can lose their idea muscles if they don’t strengthen them regularly.

Your idea muscle should be exercised daily. Flexing it daily can turn you into an idea machine. When your colleagues, friends, or family members are struggling to find solutions to a problem, you’ll be able to break down the situation and come up with ideas easily. If you work on your idea muscle daily, you’ll have nonstop solutions for whatever problems arise and most of your ideas will be better than what others have to offer. This can enable you to create the life you desire.

After about 6 – 12 months of daily mental practice, you can become an idea machine. While you’re going through this process, have confidence in the ideas you generate. Don’t allow people around you to convince you that your ideas are stupid. When you come up with an idea, write it down and figure out what the next steps are to turn it into a reality. Break down the idea into smaller, actionable steps and put them into practice. If you can’t think of the next step, then maybe the idea is too big for you to pursue as an individual. You could pitch it to companies or venture capitalists that have the resources to make it happen.

Actions to take

There’s no shame in being a highly effective mediocre person

“Being mediocre doesn’t mean you won’t change the world. It means being honest with yourself and the people around you. And being honest at every level is really the most effective habit of all if you want to have massive success”

There are individuals in the world who’ve accomplished some great feats. Some have gone to outer space, others have written bestselling novels, while others have grown their startups into billion-dollar companies. At the same time, the majority of people rarely achieve high levels of success. Though they may enjoy a bit of success here and there, most people never reach any of the major goals they set. Sometimes their success is more down to luck than any kind of meaningful effort.

The reality is not everyone can be a great visionary who builds a great business, makes great art, or launches the next global tech giant. For every successful entrepreneur, there are a thousand failed entrepreneurs. This is something you just have to accept.  You can aim for grandiosity but end up with absolutely nothing to show for your effort. Therefore, you may have to settle for much less in life. 

A business or career you love, a decent family, enough money in the bank, and the occasional hobbies may be all that you can get out of life. In other words, sometimes you have to accept a highly effective but mediocre life.

Actions to take

Honesty pays in the long run

“Honesty compounds exponentially, not over days or weeks, but years and decades. More people trust your word and spread the news that you’re a person to be sought out…This is what will build your empire.”

What crosses your mind when you hear stories of someone like Bernie Madoff scheming and swindling others out of their hard-earned cash to become wealthy? Some would probably be jealous while others would get angry. But regardless of what your reaction might be, one thing is for sure. Most people believe that the only way to get rich in today’s world is through dishonesty. This mindset has only become more prevalent since the 2008 global financial crisis where dishonest bankers and investors were bailed out while honest people suffered. As a result, more people are looking for dishonest means to make money.

However, the truth is that dishonesty is not the best way to succeed. In today’s world, honesty is the only way to create wealth. Dishonesty only works in the short term because once people find out that you’re a liar and cheat, it’s over for you. Nobody will want to do business with you and you’ll be forced to go back to the drawing board. You’ll have to start from scratch if you want to earn back people’s trust and respect.

The thing about honesty is that it compounds exponentially. If you can maintain a high level of integrity in all your dealings, word will spread about your honesty and more people will trust you. People will come looking for you whether it’s for personal or business reasons. They’ll be willing to put money in your hands and send lucrative opportunities your way. Honesty is a trait that you build for years and decades, and though you may not be able to monetize it immediately, someday it will open up doors for you.

Actions to take

Be The Superman of your life

“We’re taught when we transition from childhood to adulthood to leave behind the stories of our youth. Don’t listen to that advice. The stories of our youth, if we all hold onto the hidden gems inside, can help us navigate the world like a superhero”

The story of Superman continues to inspire many adults and children everywhere. The fact that someone can walk around like a clumsy human yet have secret powers is incredibly appealing. But why does Superman appeal to us so strongly? The simple answer is that we all somewhat believe that there is a superman inside us. We all know that there is a hidden side to us that only comes out when it needs to. You may look shy and awkward on the outside dressed in your suit and glasses but when it’s time to save the day, you quickly reveal your bright clothes, acute intelligence, and superpower strength.

The biggest challenge you face in expressing your superpowers is the notion that once you grow up, you must set aside childish ideas. Don’t fall into this trap. You have hidden gems inside you that can help you navigate this world. By choosing yourself, you can become your superhero and rise above the mundane worries that bring most people down. While most people are worrying about paying bills and petty office beef, choose to focus on cultivating a different attitude. You can spend your time thinking about how to save the lives of people around you.

You don’t need to have extraordinary powers like flying, laser vision, or the ability to block bullets. Saving lives can be as simple as sending someone an encouraging email, calling a friend you haven’t talked to in a while, or offering advice to someone who needs it. You can be the kind of person who makes a difference in someone’s life today.

Actions to take

Don’t just read. Act.
Read comprehensive summaries and discover carefully compiled action lists for active learning