1-Sentence-Summary: Choose Yourself is James Altucher’s call to give up traditional career paths, which today neither lead to success, nor happiness, and take your life into your own hands by building good habits, creating your own career and making a decision to choose yourself.
Read in: 4 minutes
Favorite quote from the author:
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:
- The American dream the middle class keeps chasing is dead.
- You have to make yourself the only person who controls your dreams.
- Choosing yourself begins with a daily practice of good habits in 4 areas.
Let’s learn from the master!
Lesson 1: The American dream the middle class keeps chasing is dead.
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.
- Mental health
- Physical health
- Emotional health
- Spiritual health
He’s striving to improve himself by just 1% in all of these areas every single day (and so should you), which for him means that he’s 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.
It also means to only be around people you love and cut toxic people out of your life and practicing gratitude, so you can live in the moment each day and not time travel to the past or future in your head.
I’ve been on the gratitude train for over 1000 days – trust me, this works.
The strength to choose yourself comes from within and James’s daily practice is what gives you that strength. James even created a website for you to track those habits – there’s a reason I’m among the top practicers 🙂
You can also use an app, I personally use coach.me.
My personal take-aways
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 5 years, and you’re still not where you want to be, read this book.
The summary on Blinkist will give you the nuts and bolts, but James’s writing is the most personal writing I’ve ever seen and he gets the message across with his stories in a way that no summary can ever convey. The book reads like a collection of his blog posts, so it’s very easy to get sucked into Choose Yourself and quickly read it cover to cover.
Every day I’m choosing myself, with my blog, Four Minute Books, and my work with coach.me and it’s because of this man and his work. Read. This. Book.
What else can you learn from the blinks?
- Why even creatives couldn’t choose themselves until recently
- What you need to start choosing yourself in the business world (it’s only 2 things)
- More about James’s daily practice and the four pillars of it
- A few habits that will help you make the daily practice a routine
- What pseudocide means and why you should stop trying to find your purpose
- The one strategy all choose yourself businesses use
- What makes honesty similar to interest in a bank and how you can start being more honest
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.