Choose Yourself Summary

1-Sentence-Summary: Choose Yourself is a call to give up traditional career paths and take your life into your own hands by building good habits, creating your own career, and making a decision to choose yourself.

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I love James Altucher. I’m not even afraid to say it. I remember the exact day I first read one of his articles, because it was the day that I started turning my life around, June 20th in 2012.

I’ve been on his email list ever since (the only one I never unsubscribed from), so expect this to be biased – go team Altucher!

James originally self-published Choose Yourself in 2013, and set the perfect example of how to use his book. At first, you could only order the book via Bitcoin. Later he published it on Amazon, offering anyone who sent the receipt and a picture of themselves reading to give their money back, or donate it to charity. I donated 🙂

Here are what I think to be the 3 key takeaways from the book:

  1. The American dream the middle class keeps chasing is dead.
  2. You have to make yourself the only person who controls your dreams.
  3. Choosing yourself begins with a daily practice of good habits in 4 areas.

Let’s learn from the master!

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Lesson 1: The American dream the middle class keeps chasing is dead.

Remember how 2 days ago you learned that women taking up careers post World War II lead to the rise of processed food?

It’s the same reason that lead to the creation of the American dream: the house with the white picket fence, 2 kids, 2 nice cars in the garage and a big vacation every year.

Both parents working meant more income, which made this lavish lifestyle affordable, which is when the idea that a perfect life is mostly based on consumption became the ideal standard that we started chasing.

The plan was clear: get a good education, get a safe job, work hard, hopefully be promoted and thus able to keep up your expensive lifestyle until you retire.

But in 2008 the American dream bubble abruptly burst. The world’s biggest financial crisis lead to companies ruthlessly cutting costs – mostly in the form of people.

Almost everything can now either be outsourced or done by technology, which is why thousands of college graduates now find themselves unemployed or underpaid – the end of jobs is here.

But what should you do if your fancy college degree now only gets you a job at McDonalds? Is it all bad? No. Here’s what to do.

Lesson 2: You have to make yourself the only person who controls your dreams.

I can’t believe I couldn’t remember where I read this, I wrote a whole article about this sentence, after all. I’m texting myself this very sentence every morning, for Pete’s sake 😀

But now I do.

You have to make yourself the only person who controls your dreams.

This one sentence contains everything you need to know about choosing yourself.

If financial freedom is your dream, then you have to control your income, which means creating products, freelancing, making passive income from affiliate marketing, selling books, courses, teaching seminars – do any one, or even better, all of these.

Want to make your own hours? Then you have to control your time (which leads to the same conclusion).

Why aren’t you the only one who controls your dreams already? Because you’re afraid.

That’s okay. We all are.

Afraid of what our family will think if we leave our “stable job”.

Afraid of what friends might say.

Afraid of our customers rejecting us.

Avoiding rejection is a powerful motivator. But it makes us miserable.

As long as you choose to live with that fear, instead of acting in spite of it, you are giving others the power to make your choices for you.

Remember this, and carry it with you as you make your first steps: You have to make yourself the only person who controls your dreams.

Lesson 3: You can choose yourself by beginning a daily practice of good habits in 4 areas.

Now you know why you have to choose yourself and what that looks like, but where do you even begin? James suggests a very simple daily practice, focusing on taking care of yourself in 4 areas.

  1. Mental health
  2. Physical health
  3. Emotional health
  4. Spiritual health

James tries to improve himself by just 1% in all of these areas every single day. For him, that means sleeping well, eating well, exercising a bit, (a long walk is just fine) and writing down 10 ideas a day, no matter if they’re good or bad.

A daily practice can also mean only being around people you love while cutting the toxic ones out of your lie. Or, to practice gratitude so you can live in the moment each day and not time travel to the past or future in your head. For seven years now, I have written down three things I’m grateful for each night, and it has changed my life like few other habits.

The strength to choose yourself comes from within. James’s daily practice gives you that strength. He even created a free website where you can track your daily practice. You can also use an app like

Choose Yourself Review

If you have no clue about self-improvement, but want to get started, read this book. If you don’t even know what an entrepreneur does, but know you want to be one, read this book. If you’ve been playing the game for five years, and you’re still not where you want to be, read this book.

Choose Yourself is an easy and quick read, thanks to James’s casual style and engaging personal story. Every day, I choose myself through my writing, this website, and in many other ways. It’s all because of this man and his work. Read. This. Book.

Who would I recommend the Choose Yourself summary to?

The 12 year old, who really likes to learn HTML in her spare time, but worries if it makes her forget her English homework, the 37 year old, who works a job he knows he doesn’t like, but does not know where to start to get out, and anyone who doesn’t feel like they’re controlling their own dreams.

Last Updated on July 27, 2022

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Niklas Göke

Niklas Göke is an author and writer whose work has attracted tens of millions of readers to date. He is also the founder and CEO of Four Minute Books, a collection of over 1,000 free book summaries teaching readers 3 valuable lessons in just 4 minutes each. Born and raised in Germany, Nik also holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration & Engineering from KIT Karlsruhe and a Master’s Degree in Management & Technology from the Technical University of Munich. He lives in Munich and enjoys a great slice of salami pizza almost as much as reading — or writing — the next book — or book summary, of course!