10 Reasons Why You Have to Quit Your Job This Year

This was going to end badly.

My boss screamed at me in front of my colleagues. I had done something wrong of course. I had sent a product to the client without debugging it thoroughly. It was my fault. But I don’t like being yelled at.

And fortunately I was sitting on a job offer that I decided to take that moment. So the next day I said the magic words, “I quit”.

And then a few years after that, I quit again, and never went back to work in the corporate world.

Read More: The 100 Rules for Being an Entrepreneur 

And now it’s too late. Now the course of history has finally written it’s next chapter. There’s no more bullshit. I’m going to tell you why you have to quit your job. Why you need to get the ideas moving. Why you need to build a foundation for your life or soon you will have no roof.

(Jabba’s newest employee)

1) The middle class is dead. A few weeks ago I visited a friend of mine who manages a trillion dollars. No joke. A trillion. If I told you the name of the family he worked for you would say, “they have a trillion? Really?” But that’s what happens when ten million dollars compounds at 2% over 200 years.

He said, “look out the windows”. We looked out at all the office buildings around us. “What do you see?” he said. “I don’t know.” “They’re empty! All the cubicles are empty. The middle class is being hollowed out.” And I took a closer look. Entire floors were dark. Or there were floors with one or two cubicles but the rest empty. “It’s all outsourced or technology has taken over for the paper shufflers,” he said.

“Not all the news is bad,” he said. “More people entered the upper class than ever last year.” But, he said, more people are temp staffers than ever.

And that’s the new paradigm. The middle class has died. The American Dream never really existed. It was a marketing scam.

And it was. The biggest provider of mortgages for the past 50 years, Fannie Mae, had as their slogan, “We make the American Dream come true.” It was just a marketing slogan all along. How many times have I cried because of a marketing slogan. And then they ruined it.

2) You’ve been replaced.

Technology, outsourcing, a growing temp staffing industry, productivity efficiencies, have all replaced the middle class.

The working class. Most jobs that existed 20 years ago aren’t needed now. Maybe they never were needed. The entire first decade of this century was spent with CEOs in their Park Avenue clubs crying through their cigars, “how are we going to fire all this dead weight?”. 2008 finally gave them the chance. “It was the economy!” they said. The country has been out of a recession since 2009. Four years now. But the jobs have not come back. I asked many of these CEOS: did you just use that as an excuse to fire people, and they would wink and say, “let’s just leave it at that.”

I’m on the board of directors of a temp staffing company with one billion dollars in revenues. I can see it happening across every sector of the economy. Everyone is getting fired. Everyone is toilet paper now.


(robots are the new middle class)

3) Corporations don’t like you. The executive editor of a major news publication took me out to lunch to get advice on how to expand their website traffic. But before I could talk he started complaining to me: “our top writers keep putting their twitter names in their posts and then when they get more followers they start asking for raises.”

“What’s the problem?” I said. “Don’t you want writers that are popular and well-respected?”

When I say a “major news publication” I am talking MAJOR.

He said, “no, we want to be about the news. We don’t want anyone to be an individual star.”

In other words, his main job was to destroy the career aspirations of his most talented people, the people who swore their loyalty to him, the people who worked 90 hours a week for him. If they only worked 30 hours a week and were slightly more mediocre he would’ve been happy. But he doesn’t like you. He wants to you stay in the hole and he will throw you a meal every once in awhile in exchange for your excrement. If anyone is a reporter out there and wants to message  me privately I will tell you who it was. But basically, it’s all of your bosses. Every single one of them.

4) Money is not happiness. A common question during my Twitter Q&A (that I give every Thursday from 330-430 PM EST), asked at least once a week, is “should I take the job I like or should I take the job that pays more money”.

Leaving aside the question of “should I take a job at all”, let’s talk about money for a second.

First, the science: studies show that an increase in salary only offers marginal to zero increase in “happiness” above a certain level. Why is this? Because the basic fact: people spend what they make. If your salary increases $5,000 you spend an extra $2000 on features for your car, you have an affair, you buy a new computer, a better couch, a bigger TV, and then you ask, “where did all the money go?” Even though you needed  none of the above now you need one more thing: another increase in your salary, so back to the corporate casino for one more try at the salary roulette wheel. I have never once seen anyone save the increase in their salary.

In other words, don’t stay at the job for safe salary increases over time. That will never get you where you want – freedom from financial worry. Only free time, imagination, creativity, and an ability to disappear will help you deliver value that nobody ever delivered before in the history of mankind.

5) Count right now how many people can make a major decision that can ruin your life.

I don’t like it when one person can make or break me. A boss. A publisher. A TV producer. A buyer of my company. At any one point I’ve had to kiss ass to all of the above. I hate it. I will never do it again.

The way to avoid this is to diversify the things you are working on so no one person or customer or boss or client can make a decision that could make you rich or destroy you or fulfill your life’s dreams or crush them. I understand it can’t happen in a day. Start planning now how to create your own destiny instead of allowing people who don’t like you to control your destiny. When you do this count, make sure the number comes to over 20. Then when you spin the wheel the odds are on your side that a winning number comes up.

6) Is your job satisfying your needs? I will define “needs” the way I always do, via the four legs of what I call “the daily practice”. Are your physical needs, your emotional needs, your mental needs, and your spiritual needs being satisfied?

The only time I’ve had a job that did was when I had to do little work so that I had time on the side to either write, or start a business, or have fun, or spend time with friends. The times when I haven’t is when I was working too hard, dealing with people I didn’t like, getting my creativity crushed  over and over, and so on. When you are in those situations you need to plot out your exit strategy.

Your hands are not made to type out memos. Or put paper through fax machines. Or hold a phone up while you talk to people you dislike. 100 years from now your hands will rot like dust in your grave. You have to make wonderful use of those hands now. Kiss your hands so they can make magic.

One can argue, “not everyone is entitled to have all of those needs satisfied at a job.” That’s true. But since we already know that the salary of a job won’t make you happy, you can easily modify lifestyle and work to at least satisfy more of your needs. And the more these needs are satisfied the more you will create the conditions for true abundance to come into your life.

Your life is a house. Abundance is the roof. But the foundation and the plumbing need to be in there first or the roof will fall down, the house will be unlivable. You create the foundation by following the Daily Practice. I say this not because I am selling anything but because it worked for me every time my roof caved in. My house has been bombed, my home has been cold and blistering winds gave me frost bite, but I managed to rebuild. This is how I did it.

(another day on the job)

7) Your Retirement Plan is For S**t. I don’t care how much you set aside for your 401k. It’s over. The whole myth of savings is gone. Inflation will carve out the bulk of your 401k. And in order to cash in on that retirement plan you have to live for a really long time doing stuff you don’t like to do. And then suddenly you’re 80 and you’re living a reduced lifestyle in a cave and can barely keep warm at night.

The only retirement plan is to Choose Yourself. To start a business or a platform or a lifestyle where you can put big chunks of money away. Some people can say, “well, I’m just not an entrepreneur .”

This is not true. Everyone is an entrepreneur. The only skills you need to be an entrepreneur: an ability to fail, an ability to have ideas, to sell those ideas, to execute on those ideas, and to be persistent so even as you fail you learn and move onto the next adventure. Or be an entrepreneur at work. An “entre-ployee”. Take control of who you report to, what you do, what you create. Or start a business on the side. Deliver some value, any value, to any body, to somebody, and watch that value compound into a carer.

What is your other choice? To stay at a job where the boss is trying to keep you down, will eventually replace you, will pay you only enough for you to survive, will rotate between compliments and insults so you stay like a fish caught on the bait as he reels you in. Is that your best other choice? You and I have the same 24 hours each day. Is that how you will spend yours?

8) Excuses. “I’m too old”. “I’m not creative.” “I need the insurance.” “I have to raise my kids”. I was at a party once. A stunningly beautiful woman came up to me and said, “James, how are you!?”

WHAT? Who are you?

I said, “hey! I’m doing well.” But I had no idea who I was talking to. Why would this woman be talking to me? I was too ugly. It took me a few minutes of fake conversation to figure out who she was.

It turns out she was the frumpish-looking woman who had been fired six months earlier from the job we were at. She had cried as she packed up her cubicle when she was fired. She was out of shape, she looked about 30 years older than she was, and now her life was going to go from better to worse. Until…she realized that she was out of the zoo. In the George Lucas movie, THX-1138 (the name of the main character was “THX-1138”) everyone’s choices are removed and they all  live underground because above ground is “radioactive”. Finally THX decides better to die above ground than suffer forever underground where he wasn’t allowed to love. He wasn’t free.

He makes his way above ground, evading all the guards and police. And when he gets there, it’s sunny, everyone above ground is beautiful, and they are waiting for him with open arms and kisses. The excuse “but it’s radioactive out there!” was just there to keep him down.

“This is easy for you to say,” people say to me. “Some of us HAVE to do this!” The now-beautiful woman had to do it also. “What are you doing now?” I asked her. “Oh, you know,” she said. “Consulting.” But some  people say, “I can’t just go out there and consult. What does that even mean?”

And to that I answer, “Ok, I agree with you.” Who am I to argue? If someone insists they need to be in prison even though the door is unlocked then I am not going to argue. They are free to stay in prison.

[Or, you can see my Ultimate Cheat Sheet for Dealing with Excuses.]

9) Its ok to take baby steps. “I can’t just QUIT!” people say. “I have bills to pay”. I get it. Nobody is saying quit today. Before a human being runs a marathon they learn to crawl, then take baby steps, then walk, then run. Then exercise every day and stay healthy. Then run a marathon. Heck, what am I even talking about? I can’t run more than two miles without collapsing in agony. I am a wimp.

Make the list right now. Every dream. I want to be a bestselling author. I want to reduce my material needs. I want to have freedom from many of the worries that I have succumbed to all my life. I want to be healthy. I want to help all of the people around me or the people who come into my life. I want everything I do to be a source of help to people. I want to only be around people I love, people who love me. I want to have time for myself.

THESE ARE NOT GOALS. These are themes. Every day, what do I need to do to practice those themes? It starts the moment I wake up: “who can I help today?” I ask the darkness when I open my eyes. “Who would you have me help today?” I’m a secret agent and I’m waiting for my mission. Ready to receive. This is how you take baby steps. This is how eventually you run towards freedom.

10)  Abundance will never come from your job. Only stepping out of the prison imposed on you from your factory will allow you to achieve abundance. You can’t see it now. It’s hard to see the gardens when you are locked in jail. Abundance only comes when you are moving along your themes. When you are truly enhancing the lives of the people around you.

When every day you wake up with that motive of enhancement. Enhance your family, your friends, your colleagues, your clients, potential customers, readers, people who you don’t even know yet but you would like to know. Become a beacon of enhancement and then when the night is gray, all of the boats will  move towards you, bringing their bountiful riches.

Don’t believe me. Stay with a boss that hates you. A job that is keeping  you locked on a chain around your neck, tantalizing you with incremental increases in pay and job title. Stay in a culture that is quietly replacing the entire middle class. This is not anyone’s fault. This is the tectonic plates of economics destroying an entire suburban culture that has lasted for almost 100 years.

Until you choose yourself for success, and all that choice entails, you will be locked into the prison. You will stare into your lover’s eyes looking for a sign that he or she loves you back. But slowly the lights will  fade, the warmth of another body will grow cold, and you will go to sleep dreamless in the dark once again.

Read More: The 100 Rules for Being an Entrepreneur 


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  • http://zenpresence.com/ ZenPresence.com

    There are two opposite ways to go independent in today’s world.
    1. Use the connectedness of the internet and market to the world. You don’t need a large percentage of the population to be successful, you just need to stand out to a small niche.
    2. Go really local. Be the friendly face offering something of value in your location. Be the very best in your location, offer an extra that no one else offers.

    Dan @ ZenPresence . com

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Dan, I agree with that. That is valuable advice for people that are in “break free” mode.

    • http://113tidbits.com/ tony greene

      Dan.nice insights. I’ve come across real people in McDonald’s, of all places, that are doing the “local” thing. I sat and had a really good conversation with a few people on the bad job market and how to go independent.

    • http://x.co/gmglobal +++++ My Global Website +++++

      11. China

      12. India

      • Pooja

        haha you do have a point. or two. xD

    • Aaron Wolfson

      Or you can do both!

    • electrikkiss.com

      You said it Dan!

  • Simp75

    I liked your article and the baby steps idea. Diversifying your skills with discipline is where one should start with.

  • http://fundless-sponsor.blogspot.com/ Capitalistic

    As usual, fantastic post James. I was once a believer in “work your way up a swanky tech company; make a lot of money; then experience financial freedom! Yay!”.Nothing scared me worse than sitting in my cubicle and looking outside my office window – watching life pass me by. One thing I’ve noticed as a two time entrepreneur is that decision makers don’t think about what “the middle/upper class” thinks about. All they care about is what kind of value (money!) you can create for them.

    Food for thought:

    There’s a difference between walking into an office in a dark suit and resume, versus walking into an office in jeans, a clean shirt and knowing the decision maker on a first name basis…

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1321736585 Stephen Hunt

    Too right, James. I quit investment banking many years ago to be come a fantasy and scifi author. Never looked back since.

  • rizdoush

    wow Ramit’s Dream Job programm sounds ridiculous now

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      You can still have a dream job. But it has to have the characteristics of you being an “entre-ployee” and you still have to eventually plan your escape before it eats you alive.

      • Slave2others

        Just was let go from a job for the first time ever at age 58 in a town with no jobs except hamburger flipping. Have a masters and not a single prospect. Love your blog, it’s the best! I have thought about doing my own business for years but am frozen solid with indecision about what to do first, next or at all. I end up doing sudoku for hours accomplishing zilch. Do you have a James Altucher guide for dummies or can you specify what baby steps a person can take to get unfrozen and start moving forward? I’ d really appreciate a step by step set of directions as I have a lifetime of “bad” habits to overcome. Thanks and please keep writing.

        • Jon Miller

          Where you are or how old you are doesn’t matter if you have access to the internet. If you good English skills you’re ahead of the game. Pick something you’d like to learn, and learn it. Programming? App development? Copywriting? A foreign language? Public speaking? Circus tricks?There are many ways to quickly learn the skills needed to set up a business.

          You can make things to sell around the world at very little cost. Find something you love and go for it. The money will be a pittance to your old job, but it will eventually lead to other things. Do odd jobs on taskrabbit even just to meet new people and bring in a few pennies.

          Even if you just spend those Sudoko hours learning new things or doing favours for other people, you’ll find ideas lead to more ideas, and before long instead of ‘where do I start’ you’ll be asking ‘when can I find time to stop’.

          And most of all trust your gut instincts, and learn to separate them from society (and maybe your parents) have ingrained into you about what ‘success’ and ‘security’ mean, which probably don’t apply anymore.

          • slave2others

            Thanks, Jon! Decision made, started yesterday.

    • Jennifer

      According to Ramit, top performers switch jobs roughly every three years. So even a dream job should only be considered a temporary gig. Because really, what you would consider a dream job today likely won’t be your dream job three to five years from now. The idea, I think, is to go from one dream job to the next while continuously increasing your knowledge and connections, and therefore, your value. So you are never overly dependent on one job or one company (like I am right now). I wish I had stumbled across this advice when I was 22 instead of 32.

      • Maria

        I never knew there was a definition for this. Thanks for the explanation Jennifer. I change jobs every 3-5 years, mainly because I fear being in one organisation for a long time and becoming instituionalised/staid. Along the way I have had several dream jobs, met some great people and learnt a lot – and its all transferable. At a job intereview recently, one of the first comments/questions was “it looks like you don’t stay in a job for very long, can you explain why.” Though invited back for a second interview, I chose not to pursue that role!

        • Jennifer

          It’s so important to keep learning. I stayed in my last position for five years, but I should have left after three because that’s when I stopped learning new things. I still cringe when I think of that two years of lost time.

  • Rob Hunsicker

    This post kept reminding me of one of my favorite cartoons: http://autogenicgolf.blogspot.com/2010/09/simple-intelligence-testing.html

  • http://twitter.com/ryanbutcher Ryan Butcher

    Another great post James. Just set it as my browser’s homepage.

  • Jessica K.

    When I was a property manager (10 years of unhappiness), a lot of co-workers used to define themselves by their jobs. Although I was guilty from time to time, I tried to keep it in perspective. I used to tell overstressed co-workers, “When I die, I do not want ‘World’s Best Property Manager’ on my tombstone. I became free when I started questioning my definition of success. Then I had to find the courage to live my definition of success and not succumb to others’ definition.

  • Rick Ortiz

    Great article, as usual! Love the THX-1138 reference. I thought I was the only person who has seen the movie.

    I have a blog about the transition that you’re writing about. It has much to do with #9 on your list. I call the blog A Day On as opposed to A Day Off, meaning that I made my transitions fueled by taking days and playing hooky from my real job in order to begin transitioning into my new life. My days off from the grind were filled with the work that is much more meaningful to me. If anyone wants to check it out just put .com after adayon

  • JordanPhoenix

    A friend of mine gave me a great analogy about the diminishing returns on happiness when job salary increases above a certain level.

    Money is like pancakes. Obviously, having one or two pancakes is much better than having zero. Three, four, even five is nice. But you don’t need 26. Once you reach the point of being full, each additional pancake does not make you happier. In fact, if you had to eat them, it would make you feel sick and worse off.

    Everyone wants to be free. Everyone wants money to be free. And ironically, our culture teaches us to be enslaved in order to find that freedom. Really, it’s just pressing the snooze button on freedom out of fear.

    Being chained up in the zoo all our lives can’t protect us from death. We might as well roam around in the wild and savor the experiences we came here to enjoy.

  • http://www.RequiredReading.com Joe Chapuis

    “Only free time, imagination, creativity, and an ability to disappear will help you deliver value that nobody ever delivered before in the history of mankind.”

    Hmmm…. kindly expound upon that one, James… thx

  • http://www.freemanlafleur.com/ Freeman LaFleur

    James, this is gold! I think this may be the year that this finally begins to click with “the masses.” The more we all talk about it, the more people we will open up to the possibility of creating their own life. Great post!

  • http://www.theskooloflife.com Srinivas Rao

    Hey James

    I recently interviewed Seth Godin and we actually talked about the change the economy is bringing. The thing that really stood out to me was when he said
    “Why would you hear average people to work for you permanently, when you can hire the best at what they do temporarily.” What I see is a future of projects not jobs. I actually think this is a good thing. People will get do what they’re good, and I think be more fulfilled with the work. Look forward to catching up with you on BlogcastFM.

    • http://www.pamelahoke.com/ PamHoke

      Thanks for sharing these wise words from Mr. Godin. I fortunately escaped 12 years ago and figured out that beautiful part of consulting – it is truly a win-win for both consultant and business. It was such an easy sell to businesses (I just started by calling on the part time ads and asked outright, “do you really need to commit to hiring a permanent employee for this?”…then made my case to work on an as-needed, by project basis, so if one didn’t like the other…well, next? Not being married to any one client is sheer bliss. And, business like not being married to just one consultant. I like James’ advice on the at least 20 options, I love rolling the dice each month to see which juicy project comes in next, and learning which happy client sent them (fortunately I have built a nice referral pipeline). I highly recommend those starting their exit strategies to start building that pipeline, at least of those you would like to work with in the future now…maybe take on those side projects with those you know so when the times comes, you have testimonials ready for launch!

  • Dantastic

    I believe the biggest fear of letting go of the job trapeze is when there is no net below. It’s a gamble to live off savings until your income is replenished. Could take years. It’s hard to give up a paycheck before a suitable replacement revenue stream is in place, especially if ou have kids. When “The Man” has you working overtime, and family obligations take up what’s left, when can you build a new career? James, you’ve written about giving up TV, parties, etc. to make time get something else going. This is probably the answer. How bad do you really want it, right?

  • Karl S.

    Great post. Oh my god, that last paragraph was brutal!

  • Amorda23

    Another amazing post James! I really need to read this over an over again to remind myself of your message. It is so true, yet so many people are blinded by the “safety” of some corporate job or working for the government. Thank you for your posts! They give me reason to continue being positive and believing in myself and of course to follow the daily practice!

  • http://www.jonasellison.com/ Jonas Ellison

    Can’t have enough of these wake up calls. This one might just do the trick. Excellent. Thanks, James!

  • http://www.orientalsharpton.com/ tiennguyen

    Have you ever considered that maybe, just maybe that there are people who work at jobs that they aren’t miserable, where they’re treated well, enjoy the company culture, and believe in the company?

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Yes, maybe. But the landscape is quickly changing. When you’re in a movie theater you can enjoy the movie but you still need to be aware of all the exits.

    • kittymeow

      Tien, I know what you mean. I have a job that’s pretty nice although not 100% perfect. I’m treated very well, they take my suggestions seriously, good benefits, etc. But my mentor who has worked in my field for 30 + years said most stations are not like my privately owned station. They are owned by a small group of rich people who only care about the money and not talent or quality. I’ve heard horror stories from others in my field. I like my job, but I also know stations like mine are hard to find and they’re being bought out or closed. So, I think his article is geared toward those who want to leave but need a push.

      • Frank229

        Right. Same here. Except it’s not great ALL the time. I think a lot of people who like their job and their culture also have those days where they go, “A-ha… I see… I really DO need to think about getting out of this.” For me, I’d say that 2-3 out of any 12 days are awful, a few are pure bliss, and the others are days where I just feel overworked. On the awful days, it hits home that nobody really cares about you, you feel devalued, negative, and just plain cranky. This is especially true if you have a personality that questions things, feel you would get (and give) more value out of your time if you weren’t working for someone else, and are more, shall we say, ‘free spirited’. But they lull you on those good days… you feel great, it’s not that difficult, the pay is good, maybe you go out to dinner with the wife when you get home and it’s nice you don’t have to worry about the lights going off and can even afford to enjoy a night out. And you’re saving money. Then a truck comes along and hits you on those ‘off’ days where your superiors decide to rain down an ungodly firestorm of pain. You have to be vigilant like Batman even on the good days if you’re ever going to get out. It’s hard, but I know that’s what I need to do if I’m ever going to be in control of my own time (which, let’s face it, that’s what we’re all really talking about… 1) more control over our time and 2) feeling fulfilled). Again, it’s the HOW…

    • Srikrishna

      Some slaves may enjoy slavery, but that does not mean slavery is nice.

  • http://twitter.com/bryantmward Bryant Ward

    The headings for 1-10 should be printed on their own series of Motivational posters. Screw “persistence,” we need “you’ve been replaced.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/Romy.rome.rome Romina Squared

    I just walked out of my office job, it was giving me anxiety and taking up too much of my day. I’m in the process of starting a wholesale distribution business and I’ve never been happier.

  • Robert San Luis

    Thank you for your insights James! You are on the money with your message.

    More people must become entrepreneurs and take control of their lives.

    I believe we must honor our Creator by becoming one. We should strive to serve humanity by creatively expressing our talents and abilities and simply deliver value to others. With two billion people connected to the internet, there is an unprecedented opportunity to market ideas, solutions and content to a vast audience.

    Google is the new “god”, simply place your prayer in the search box and presto an answer appears. Everyone you see is “praying” to their smartphone.

    The country may still be in Great Depression 2.0 but massive opportunities abounds!

  • A-ron

    In 2009 I quit my job because I was burned out, hated my bosses and hated most of the people I worked around. I’ve always contended that working in an office environment, in a cube or actual office, is one of the worst kinds of hell a human can experience. I’m projecting, of course, but slouching over a computer all day and dealing with the checked out drones buzzing around busily doing nothing is not a humane way to slowly die.

    I started a blog, So I Quit My Job (no longer exists), and wrote in it everyday about what I experienced during my job hiatus. I had every intention of starting a business. I wanted to be a writer, getting paid to write stuff. What I eventually discovered, about myself, was even though I had “escaped” the prison physically, I had a hard time making the mental leap to freedom.

    I still lounged around, playing video games, watching movies, making the rounds on the interent, the loop (email, facebook/myspace, twitter, blogs, etc.). I never made much progress actually launching a business, as my savings dwindled away. I didn’t know what to do. If you try and set a cow free from the slaughterhouse, it’ll turn right back around and get in line to die. The only difference for me was, I knew that getting back in line meant certain death.

    I did eventually. I had to. I piddled away my year of freedom, just dabbling, never diving in. Fear is crippling, and extreme comfort is just too easy to pass up sometimes, especially when you’re just wandering through the woods trying to find the nearest slaughterhouse.

    About 3 years later, I’m moving into another job that I know I’m going to hate, after just leaving a job that I hated. Some people tell me I have a “bad” attitude, because I can’t find fulfillment in a job. Being willing to submit to rule has never been my strongest trait. And that’s what you have to do in a job, submit to the masters. Most jobs anyway, not all. That’s not for me, even sacrificing a little of my creative freedom is draining.

    I’m not sure I’m any different today, just a little older and a little more defeated. I’ve started a couple of businesses over the last 3 years, all failures. Failure is supposed to just be a lesson, so I’m told, but sometimes it’s simply defeating. Enough to maybe throw in the towel and accept that comfy job, and hope when I’m 80 that I ain’t lying around in my own shit, with enough money to keep paying the bills.

    • Galaxier


      • Levi

        Hope is not a strategy! Sounds like you need to rework your game plan. Don’t focus on the fact you failed focus on what failed and build a better mouse trap next time.

    • rizdoush

      start creating something while you are employed then only quit if you’re sure you’ll make it big.

    • orsi

      you write succinctly, are focused, and are finally more committed to your future than playing some ridiculous video game. maybe you are ready. “what” you are ready for is almost immaterial, at least in America. Are you?

    • http://www.toddandelin.com Todd_Andelin

      I can totally relate to this.
      It is so easy to learn and play and surf the internet and not generate any income!
      “the loop” as you said……I would like to hear more about the loop….
      that should be made into a small book. “The Loop”
      I think playing in the loop is something we have to do to keep up with the human heard, but it doesnt actually feed us.

      A few months ago I came to the realization that there were two really important things to keep in mind if I wanted to make money.
      1. Help other people make money.
      2. Give people a valuable product/service
      Maybe its stupid for me to write this down, but ever since that thought came in, I have had better ideas to give to people…I feel like i am more of a participant when I look at satisfying the external world around me instead of feeding my internal desires.

      • Chris Stewart

        I’m with you, Todd. I feel the same way. I get a lot of satisfaction when I can help someone else be successful in their independent endeavors – helping them market themselves locally, making connections, etc. So how do you make your two realizations work for you? How do you support yourself doing that kind of work?

    • Dad

      ouch. So I don’t know if this will help, but if you want to try again here are some ideas:

      a) instead of starting a business, figure out how to help a group of people or the planet or something – volunteer & serve something more than a paycheck or yourself; this can help with the depression and misery and can often lead to paid work you love, either a business or a job.

      b) Think about what gets you going, what turns on that inner enthusiasm and then try to find a way to be creative around that and start the business small while still keeping your job (this is easier on the savings account (!). To make this actually happen you’ll likely need to schedule the blocks of time since it can be hard to motivate more work after one’s full-time job. When, and if, it gets going enough to pull your day-job back to half-time, see if they’ll go for it. Then quit entirely once you have enough revenue from the main gig.

      c) Consider things that are not at a computer. The computer can easily just become an enthralling bozo experience like TV and suck away your life. It might help to schedule 4 hours with no electronics each weekend in which you will brain-storm ideas and be creative about what other things you can do. Sometimes doing this thinking while taking a long walk or exercising can help spur creativity.

      d) You might consider if you might be dealing with some low level of depression that’s making it difficult to get out of the cycle you feel stuck in. Consider getting some professional help. You are clearly coping and probably don’t *need* help to survive, but if help allowed you to evolve your situation into one that was more inspiring and motivating then it might be worth considering.

      It’s hard to make suggestions without knowing you better, so if some of these are totally way off then I hope you’ll accept my apology for that and appreciate the thought which was to try and help.

    • jlb

      I appreciate your honesty. Thank you for being real as the happy endings never come as suspected. I would recommend that you take this time at your new job to learn everything you can about their product/service then you may gain some insight into what they are not offering. You will also see their shortcomings then build from that. The daily practice works….I have to get back on the mental part because I will go a few days with out writing out the ideas. I am going to follow my own advice and email people my ideas. Thanks for sharing!

  • Galaxier

    Ask me about a shitty job , when I explain you wouldn’t be able to eat. I working on a value to sell so I would never in the history of life ever return there.

  • Liz

    James: This is definitely one of the best posts ever. Thank you.

  • Ted Scarborough

    Damnit James, I’m going to bust out of this SOB, just decided. Thanks for banging me over the head enough to do it!

  • UKGuy

    A ship is safe when it’s in the harbour. But that’s not what a ship is for.

    • Capn_Mike

      Snatched that for my email tag. OK? Thanks!

      • Marnie

        Related. I also like “Don’t wait for your ship to come in – row out to meet it.”

    • John Galt

      UKGuy, do you like Paulo Coelho? Then quote him next time you want to use his line.

      • mishka

        That quote is by John Shedd. Maybe you shouldn’t chastise people for using other people’s lines when you don’t even know whose lines they are.

      • ranger01

        Really, who the hell cares?

      • Reptilian

        Who cares if that’s Coelho’s or Shedd’s line? Quotes are meant to inspire anyone who needs ém. You go back and read your comic books now, Lil Johnny.

      • http://sportingnerds.com Sco Jo

        …and who did he steal it from?

    • save4fi

      I don’t care who originally quoted it. It’s still good advise. I quote sayings all the time because they make sense, and I don’t remember where I read or heard it from. Some times I come up with my own. Do you really think I care if some one else uses my lines. “Imitation is the best form of flattery,” so I think it’s a compliment when someone else uses my lines. To keep Nez happy… I believe Charles Caleb Colton attributed the phrase I previously quoted.

      • Rachel

        There is, however, a difference between imitation and plagiarism.

    • jondough

      Safe like Pearl Harbor?

    • William Volk

      But make sure your crew is OK with leaving the harbor. Mine wasn’t.

    • Jose

      Like it!!!

  • CharlotteBonnie

    Great idea but some of us are not ready for entrepreneurship and won’t be ready soon. I’m talking about those of us who finished college but never learned anything useful that we can use in a professional setting. After a month on the job my very first employer told me to go to school…and get my 100,000$ back because they didn’t teach anything. Granted, I learned a lot from him and things seemed to turn out ok when I started learning more until one Friday he just told me not to come on Monday. No official warning, no “you’re fired” or “we have to let you go”. I asked “so when can I come?” he said “I don’t know”. I was getting paid under the table too. Sucked for me. The jobs that followed all ended up in failure. I was fired numerous times and all the people who fired me was stealing from our minimum wage paychecks. This is not the worst part. The worst part is when you tell this story to people and get told to stop whining, suck it up and work harder. I changed careers recently using my transferable skills. Starting from 0 at the age of 26. Still inexperienced, still broke. My new field allows more entrepreneurial opportunities but you gotta know what you’re doing if you want to do it by yourself and that means being a slave for someone else for more years. I haven’t met a nice boss so far. Maybe I should go find a four-leaf clover or something.

  • kurt_gielen

    I quit my job last December without another one lined up. It feels extremely liberating and I know things are going to work out just fine. Don’t know how, don’t know when but being comfortable with not knowing is also liberating.

  • Will Melbourne

    What about teams and communities? People learn a lot from each other, at inspired by eac other and help each other grow. One of the key parts of a successful company is building a solid and in sync team. Also most products cannot be built by themselves. A team is needed to make that efficiently.
    You could do that with your own business but then you bring yourself a whole load of new problems and stresses. No one is running Facebook or building MacBooks from a home office or on the road.
    As a developer I worry about going alone and getting left behind in terms of new technology.

  • Brian Peterson

    I would add that the baby steps are really just the simple, short-term goals you set for yourself. These are my things to remember for setting good goals. Make sure you make goals that:
    1) … you expect to achieve. If you set yourself a complex goal and you haven’t built up habits that allow you to believe in yourself, you won’t succeed. Start with an easier goal.
    2) … you really do value highly. Sometimes I find myself making goals for things that I don’t really care about that much. What the heck.
    3) … give relatively immediate reward, whether inherently, or by your design. Some people say they reward themselves for getting their goals done… less certain about this one.
    4) … lend themselves to being achieved without distraction, again whether inherently or by design. If you have to go on the internet to achieve your goal, for instance, set yourself specific guidelines for how many tabs you’ll allow yourself to have, only look at a few things, etc. Or get one of those programs that stops you from visiting certain sites.
    5) … if the goal is difficult, is also effort-based, and NOT result-based. If you’re not going to be able to realistically achieve the goal yet but you need to start somewhere, just set a goal to work on it for an hour.

    This is my extrapolation from Piers Steel’s “Procrastination Equation” . :-)

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Very good advice, Brian,

  • http://www.kellygarland.com/ Kelly Garland

    Dear James,

    Wow….this deserves five stars. Thank you so much for being honest. It’s all true and I think we all know it’s true. It’s the fleecing of what was called the Middle Class which probably never really existed except in our false state of reality. You HAVE to have this shitty job because you won’t have anything without it. Hell. I’ve got nothing now. I believe for me personally the only reason I’ve held back from dumping on a 25 year career is fear. Especially for someone like myself who’s lived with a chronic debilitating illness i.e., healthcare. I am a writer who has been terrified to go out on my own ….. I guess I just need to get off my ass and do something about it. ;)

    Thanks for the honesty and encouragement!

    • orsi

      the middle class existed for 3 generations. Due to selling out the US RE mortgage market it was recently possibly mortality eroded. I guess you google it all if you didn’t live it from the 50s on.

  • adisorganizedmom

    Everyone has an excuse and so did I for several years. I’m currently baby-stepping right out the door of my employer. I worked it from both ends – established a couple of side-businesses that bring a little in and reduced our bills on the other end. Now, with a family of six including a disabled husband that only gets social security, I have our bills down to less than $1000 a month. House and cars are paid off. I’m slowly but surely adding to my side-gigs. No way I’m wasting the rest of my life working for someone else. I’m actually even happier with my job because I know there’s an end in site! But, that won’t make me stay!

    • Dutch

      You’re amazing! Some get it, some don’t. You clearly do. Enjoy your new life of freedom and fulfillment!

    • ranger01

      Good for you!

    • iRuleMe

      That’s very inspirational…Thank you!

    • http://twitter.com/JeannieBertoli Dr Jeannie Bertoli

      How F-ing awesome are you!!!!

    • Pooja

      You are bloody awesome, and you deserve every bit of this happiness. You have EARNED it! Lots of love and luck and blessings to you and your beautiful family. :)

  • G3

    Hi James,

    I just thought after lurking around your blog for sometime now, I’ll leave a message..

    Literally, you are the answer to my prayers.. 2012 was a crazy year for me, it altered me in ways i thought not possible. I was lost, and not sure about the direction I should take.. Then I came across your blog.. it’s like coming across a massive gold mine.. I am still discovering your blog, reading them as much as time permits.. Your blog is my bible.

    Anyways, about the topic at hand.. I just lost another temporary contract job… and it’s about time I wake up, instead of trying to waste energy trying to come up with another job i’ll lose in a few months.. Thanks for sharing your wisdom! :)

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      G3, thanks. And I’m glad you are taking steps in the right direction. Take it slow and don’t be hard on yourself. Everything is changing but it’s good that you are on the side of the people aware of it.

  • fb_stockpro

    keep your job and use your $ to buy Facebook stock and get rich enough where retirement or having fun isn’t an issue.

  • Zardoz123

    Thank you…once again James.

  • http://escapehatcher.com Escape Hatcher

    This = a-w-e-s-o-m-e – this is what I spend my days doing…helping people eradicate those Sunday night blues by transitioning from corporate slave to solopreneuer…we hatch escape plans!

    You hear more and more people talking about this, but I don’t alway think they “get” the realities of it. The way things used to be is over, done, kaput. Time to be entrepreneurial – all of us. Thanks for the GREAT read!

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Yes, whether its entrepreneur or solopreneur, SOMETHING has to be done when one wakes up to the realization that the world has changed for good and its not going back.

      • TheOfficialJustMe

        It’s unrealistic that everyone is going to succeed as an entrepreneur even if most people try, so the next question is what should the average person do.

        One idea is to seek out stable, relatively protected careers which actually require hard or unfashionable things like studying science, medicine, teaching, A/C repair, or plumbing. (I know that hell might freeze over before over-indulged middle class kids start going to trade school, but who knows in this economy.)

        Those careers will always need people since the demand is evergreen and the US limits competition from abroad. Both could turn into “dual use” careers where one can be an independent business owner or have stable employment. Then there’s always government work for those who desire stability. Everyone “officey” is going to be caught up in the dangerous middle zone where hard-core specialization will be a requirement for survival. Most people will need your advice.

        Like you you describe, I think the problem is that the college industry produced a generation of generalists for a factory that’s closing down. The irony is that many of the human cogs like to complain when they do have jobs in the factory, and now that the jobs are going away, all hell is breaking lose.

        • TheOfficialJustMe

          One last point: Those careers I described above have built-in protectionism, whether by licensing, tenure, government policy, tough coursework, or other barriers to entry. Whether you have a career or business, if you don’t build a moat around yourself, you’re in trouble.

        • http://www.facebook.com/anders.mikkelsen Anders Mikkelsen

          The old America was composed of tradesmen and farmers. People did not expect to get jobs – but there was tons of work. I agree that being an ‘entrepreneur’ is not realistic – unless we define entrepreneur as someone who learns to be good and therefore productive at something like plumbing and as well as getting the work.
          Another problem – if you are an entrepreneur who is doing the work? Do you have to hire a wage slave? Hopefully you can also use your position to help others do work they love or at least like. With automation the good news is that the work is often done by machines. The entrepreneur is vital – doing the selling marketing financing etc functions. Many companies have few employees who do the actual work – the employees do the entrepreneur functions that really deliver value.

    • Capn_Mike

      Solopreneuer! So THAT’S what I am. Now I know… Cool.

      • http://escapehatcher.com Escape Hatcher


  • TheOfficialJustMe

    Risky advice in the short run, good advice for the long run. I read a similar post by Steve Pavlina years ago and talked myself out of full time work at the time which I regret. On the other hand, I began absorbing the entrepreneur mentality, so I hope that worldview will serve me well in the future.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Yes, thats why in the short run I suggest the baby steps.

  • http://www.slopeofhope.com Tim Knight

    James, this is perhaps my favorite of all the posts you’ve written. I emphatically agree, particularly with #5 (which is something I think about, oh, just about every day of my life).

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Yes, me too. I hate that feeling I get when I think, “I know I did it again. ONE PERSON rules my life.” Uhh…other than Claudia.

  • Steve Ardire

    choose yourself for success…yes I did 20+ years ago and it felt and still feels great ;)

    Terrific post !

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Steve, what have you been doing those twenty years?

  • jlcollinsnh

    Brilliant post here, James.

    The cell doors are unlocked and the prison gates open. You just need the courage to walk into the sunlight.

    You likely don’t recollect, but you were one of the first to congratulate me on hanging up my job in the Spring of ’11 and to support my launching of my blog around the same time.

    It’s been a wonderful ride since.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      That’s great, J. Congratulations.

  • http://www.facebook.com/alexzemkus Alex Zemkus

    great article James, it spoke to me directly and expresses how I feel. Thanks.

  • Martin

    I appreciate number 9. Often times a list like this can make you feel incompetent for still having a job. On the other hand my side business has already covered a pay cut in my day job. Thus quickly making the day job less important.

    You yourself have written that you don’t like risk. Quitting a job without other income already coming in could be emotional suicide. I hope to take enough baby steps that the day job is redundant.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Yes, you are doing the right thing. Taking the baby steps, diversifying the sources of income, so no one king rules your empire.

  • Joe Choi

    Reason #11: You’re at work and reading and rereading all of James’ articles on why you need to quit your job.

    That was me around this time last year.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      You have to tell us: did it all work out?

      • Joe Choi

        The story is still being written! Last May was when I finally left after much debating.

        Financially, I did worse than I would have done had I stayed (I think of it as a mini retirement). But I learned more in 6 months than I did in 4-5 years on the job. Overall, I think I’m happier though.

        • Riskette

          Could you indulge us a bit by telling us in general terms what it was you learned? Was something like the secret to making a great souffle’, or was more like you were a complete fool for opting out of that gig.

          • Joe Choi

            Sure…you learn how to sell yourself, your services, and how to read/understand people better. You can read business books and articles all day and learn how to do stuff. But until you get into the trenches and walk into the very mistakes you were warned about, you never really learn.

            Also, it’s a very powerful moment when you first get a check –no matter how small — for work that you did. It’s like you learned how to create money out of thin air.

          • Brent

            That’s some helpful insight, Joe! I’ve been reading a lot on how to find your passion, get aligned with yourself, market yourself, etc. but have done little real application or risk-taking. I guess knowing and recognizing you’re in the cage is half the battle. No one ever said escaping jail would be easy.

  • Guest

    “A few weeks ago I visited a friend of mine who manages a trillion
    dollars. No joke. A trillion. If I told you the name of the family he
    worked for you would say, “they have a trillion? Really?” But that’s
    what happens when ten million dollars compounds at 2% over 200 years.”

    Ok, I’m going to nit pick. $10mm at 2% over 200 years makes about half a billion. Not even a billion, forget a trillion. Inflation is probably more than 2% a year so it won’t even be worth it. Never mind… it doesn’t make any difference to the argument.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Ok. 6%

  • http://nprasanna.com/ Prasanna N

    Thank You Sir!

  • felix_mariano13@yahoo.com

    hello good morgen thank you

  • orsi

    people work at companies they love. others don’t. As someone who has never had a straight job this is always interesting to read. Owning your own biz is no walk in the park – its really just for the marines of business in this world. The grass may look greener, but that only because there is way more manure on it.

    Do what you love and modify your lifestyle to it. period.

    You’ll have daily happiness. no guarantee about the money, but if that means 10K a year or 1000000K a year it will not matter much at all. That is just a detail, one way or another.

  • //

    Sounds like someone never had a good employer. What he calls “freedom” is actaually instability that makes Fukushima look safe.

  • Mr. Perfidy

    I am curious how the former occupiers of inflated, artificial middle class status react to the author’s comfort with accepting the reality of our atavastic socio-economic stratification.

  • DNter

    On a budget, saving money, spending my nights listening to audiobooks, reading motivation, building action habits, learning specific skills. Quitting in 51 days and trying not to be paralyzed with fear (what if I get a serious illness and need expensive insurance and disabilty leave? What if I only think I’m prepared but I’m deluded about my ability and I end up a big failure and eating from a dumpster? Can my ego handle another failure without being shattered again?). I’m going for it anyway.

  • http://www.toddandelin.com Todd_Andelin

    I LOVE your second paragraph:
    “You can’t make money without selling something real. You can’t make something real without first imagination manifesting itself in your head. You can’t have imagination without surrendering yourself to an idea that you want to create something of value to other human beings.”
    …..and you cant want to create anything if you have fear and stress in your life.

    We act and even think according to the stereotype that we know other people have of us. At some point you have to break free from playing the role that everyone wants you to play. (Jesus had the same problem…”Is not this the carpenters son?”)
    I am Todd. Todd 12.0 or Todd Lion or Todd Chrome,
    People that I knew before still think of me as Todd 1.0……when I am around those people I still act like Todd 1.0.
    I was at a mall the other day and saw an old friend from 2003. I almost passed out in agony and stress. Everyone is a puppeteer and I knew he would try to pull my Todd 1.0 strings and do this and that. Or maybe i would pull my own strings for them. Whatever. Maybe I lack self esteem or confidence.
    Whatever…..the bottom line is Im looking to associate with people who believe in the newest updated Todd 12.0.

  • JonnyBH

    James, you are often fun to read.
    And occasionally you write something amazing.
    This one’s a keeper. Thanks,

  • http://reportinglife.typepad.com/ Carmen

    I don’t know anything about news reporters or temp staffing agencies, but as a court reporter (we go on location and create verbatim translations of what’s going on) they want everyone to be a superstar. If you’re a superstar, it’s easy to steal everyone else’s work. I’ve noticed some corporations trying to do away with the “superstar”, but it’s only because they lose work to them every day. Court reporters are like salespeople, so perhaps that’s the difference between news reporters and temp staffing.

  • Dave

    I’ve been reading your blog for some time, but this post has really hit home with me at this point in my life. I have been feeling like I’m suffocating for some time and it’s only gotten worse…but I don’t know what to do or how to help myself. I’ve never felt so lost. It’s tough not to wallow and, believe me, I try like hell not to, but, for the first time ever, I have absolutely no idea how or what to do.

    I have all the excuses I need to not quit my demoralizing job – I’m a single father of two that lives paycheck to paycheck with no savings and need benefits. Quitting scares the crap out of me, yet I spend 50+ hours a week at a job that has no future and is slowly killing me inside.

    I want to make the change you call for, but I have no idea what the hell to do…

    How can I figure this out?

    • JordanPhoenix


      Without knowing all of the specifics of your situation, this is what I’d recommend:

      1. Start tracking where all of your free time and money are going for several weeks, and cut out anything that is not absolutely essential for survival. TV is the first thing that should be gone. Suspend clothes shopping indefinitely (and only go to thrift stores when absolutely necessary). A watch is useless in 2013, time is on your phone and everyone else’s. Examine everything you own and see what is not an absolute need, just an illusory “need” that our culture has made us believe we need, even though we do not. Food, clothing, shelter, bed, stove, refrigerator, internet, computer, phone, means of transportation (or public trans) are pretty much all you need at this point.

      2. Set a budget. Make a simple chart on Microsoft Excel. See what the absolute minimum amount is that you can spend to get by (leave some wiggle room for unforeseen things).

      3. Devote all of your free remaining time (after work, kids, and sleep) to begin your second career. You may not get paid anything at first. You may not even know what your job even is yet. But that’s homework assignment #1. Peeling back the layers of garbage you’ve been fed by our society for years to figure out who you really are. When in doubt, just follow your bliss. See what makes you happy. Don’t worry about monetizing it just yet. Just start exploring what you love to do when you are free to do whatever you want.

      4. When you figure out something you really like and may be able to get good at, start doing it for free for anyone who needs it. Get on twitter, follow people in that industry, study them, go to their events. Ask questions on Quora. Improve your skills and build your network.

      5. Read James’ blog post about the Daily Practice. And his blog in general. This is one of the only true sources of honest wisdom on the internet. When you find an oasis like this, soak up all of the wisdom you possibly can.

      If you have two kids, obviously quitting without a plan is not the best course of action. But you can start the transition period now, which will act as a light at the end of the tunnel and give you the strength to tolerate work while you plan your exit. Knowing that you may be able to quit in 6-36 months is a huge weight off your shoulders – and if you stay disciplined you will. I wish you the best of luck.

  • ajax jones

    James, stop it already. I quit last year from “shitty job” and quit last week from this new one. last day 11th Jan.

  • Gil

    I fail to see the connection between a job and slavery/prison. So you don’t like your job? No one’s holding a gun to your head to make you stay. On the other hand, why is being self-employed suddenly “freedom”? It reminded of the true story I saw on TV about a nearly-retired sinking their life savings into a franchise probably for the reasons you gave, it tanked and they lost everything.

    One opposite article is:


    • Been There Doing That

      It’s true sometimes working for yourself is more slavery than freedom. Most self employed people work more hours than the regular 9 to 5 average Joe. Working for yourself sucks and unless you can do something that allows you to generate money while you go off and play you will more than likely be even more tethered to your business than if you just worked for someone else.

      • Jessica K.

        I would argue that I like being the master of my own destiny, win or lose. What is this all for anyway? What’s your definition of success? Happiness? “The secret of happiness is: Find something more important than you are and dedicate your life to it.” ~Dan Dennett

  • Kevin B. Selby

    Another analogy is the age old “inside cat” vs. “outside cat”. I have a huge house (4000 square feet) and I could EASILY house all my animals (7 cats at one time…don’t ask!) inside and never expose them to the “dangers” of the outside. I chose to let them be free (and gosh….the open field across the street is simply a wonderland too tempting for them to stay away!). Are there dangers? You bet! Cars, bikes, nasty little boys who throw rocks, other cats, DOGS!, plenty of things that can kill, maim, injure, or otherwise annoy perfectly healthy cats. But I wouldn’t change it for the world. When they come back in at the end of the day they are satisfied little furry creatures and…they MORE appreciate their safe warm home (in my somewhat cat-addled brain anyway…). And isn’t this just like us? We can “stay in the house” all our life and never realize that the front door was open the whole time with a HUGE HUGE HUGE world out there (ya gotta admit, the overall square footage of the Earth is quite a bit bigger than my little house). I’ve been a lurker on Mr. Altucher’s blog and I must say, the content here is inspiring. I resolved that 2013 would be the year I would dip my toe into side jobs (still working my 25 year career at a national lab). I wish you all the best and we’ll see where this goes!


    Kevin B. Selby

    • mikeyhell

      Kevin, one has to make peace with the possibility of losing one’s outside pets. As I write this, one of my four kitties is AWOL and I don’t expect him back. He was the most out-going of the four and there’s a trade-off for such behavior in this world. Too many hazards around here. Is there are metaphor there for our existence? Yes, I think that we have to make peace with the possibility that our efforts to break free of the comforts of our jobs, relationships, whatever, will not turn out the way we had hoped. Maybe something we are attached to will leave and never come back. The specter of loss is terrifying.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mark.eibner Mark Eibner

    Great Post James!

  • Werbtheherb

    Great article as usual James. Really gets me engaged. We are all so hungry to find a “reason to live”, a “purpose to our existence”. We want to paint our ambitions. We find ourselves limited by our biology, this thing, this body with 2 hands, 2 legs, 2 eyes..when you think of the inifinite configurations that are possible, why this one? Absurd. Our biological urges are disgusting, with our salivy and mucus and excrement coming out of our anus.

    We all know our intellect is so much more than the body we are in. That for me is the real prison. We try to escape the walls of corporations to express ourselves freely through our body. Our intellect wants to yell out, wants to spread beyond the confines of our biology. Our intellect is pure, everyone can reach within to feel the pureness of love, of good. Words can’t describe it. It is warm, it is comfortable, it is infinite.

    When I look all around, business, what people are doing, anything, it’s all an expression of our will. It is infinite. We are all headed towards a realization of self. It is clear. We are headed towards a realization of what is within us. It’s honest, good, loving, caring, it does not want to harm anybody, it’s peaceful, perfect.

    We are headed there at an accelerate rate today, we are trying to connect to each other, to learn as much and as quickly as possible, to know everything, to answer everything.

    We are already mourning the death of our biology. We are dependant on medecine, on science, on technology, creations of our intellect. We are letting it express itself.

    We want to control the sensory inputs to our brain. We want to let our intellect, our thoughts free.

    I am an aerospace engineer, James. I make sure the control software on airctaft engines are safe. I work in a small company. I contribute to bringing people physically together, I am a piece of this self realization. (I think that bringing people physically together is an transitionary phase to bringing people’s mind together, we will all be connected). We all are. Whether working in a 9 to 5 formula, or a person managing a trillion dollar. We are all contributors. You are contributing in a way I cannot grasp. You are mind stimulator. You are creating or disrupting synaptic signals in our brains. You are aiming at the essence of what drives us.

    Was steve job’s contribution by bringing the iphone to millions of people greater than the contribution I do when I churn through tiny bits of information to ensure that the software is safe? Is the contribution greater than the constant love I give to my girlfriend? the caress I give to her hand? The soft kiss to her lips?

    Why look elsewhere? Why go and “free myself” from this 9 to 5 to start a company that will “help” people? Why can’t I just appreciate what I have and what I am right now, this instant, this split second?

    I work 9 to 5, I have 5 weeks vacation, I make 70k/year, I get to see my mom who lives near by whenever I wish and I get to cuddle in her arms, I get to enjoy a hot meal that brings back my childhood flavors. The only prison I know of is my body, and I take care of it so that it doesn’t pain me, it allows my mind to be as free as it can. I exercise, I try to satisfy my sexual impulses, I keep it at bay. “Calm down monkey genes”. “why are you urging me to be the king of the hill”. “MY FOOD! I will get there first!!”. “Sex with women, now, all of it” “OO OO OO”

    Hahah, hope any of this made any sense. Love you James.

    • Jake Gaston

      I have a hard time deciding if I should embrace my animal or shun it.

    • Steve

      That…..was great. So real and honest. It doesn’t matter what you “do” everyday. You can be free in your mind even in a physical prison. Be free.

  • Lord Vader

    Love #10 James. Quite a motivational post today. I needed it. Reading from my cubicle prison LOL.

  • Matthew Rayfield

    James, thanks for another great post!

    Points 1 and 2 really got me thinking.

    I’m not one for doom and gloom. But, it’s sad to think about what’s going to happen in the next 100 years or so as more and more jobs are being replaced by technology. What are people going to do? I can imagine a time when most people don’t have to do much of anything. Which is scary in and of itself. But what’s really a scary thought is what the time in between will be like. A time where there simply aren’t jobs for 90% of people.

    I’m an optimist, but it’s hard to imagine how it could be good for the world. Only thing I can imagine is that somehow, society’s skills can shift with the technology, so that we all become designers, programmers, and thinkers. But I find this unlikely.

    What are your thoughts?

    • mikeyhell

      Matthew, I think that most people will adapt to the changing world. Humans are good at adapting. But not everyone will. Since at least WWII a deep culture of state dependency, both individual and corporate, has emerged all over the West. For instance, there are now countless adults who have never worked at day in their lives. Will these people be cared for indefinitely by the state? And if not, will organizations like the church or civic groups take care of the dependents like they used to before welfare become viewed as an entitlement? Who knows? And there are “businesses” that have never had to satisfy a market demand other than what they can get from the state to hand out to them owing to their lobbying efforts (too many examples to count). I’m not worried about the corporations dying—good riddance—but I am very concerned about the people. Interesting times, indeed.

  • http://www.garmaonhealth.com/ Joe

    Another insightful post, Mr. Altucher, but I challenge one
    assertion made: that everyone is a budding entrepreneur. This is not
    empirically discernible, and probably for a reason that reaches back to the
    very roots of how humans evolved.

    Now, I am indeed picking this out my arse, but it occurs to me that since
    humans came on the bucolic scene, a few things happened. They implicitly
    recognized that to survive they had to be a member of a group, a tribe, and
    that interdependencies had to be established, maintained and relied upon:

    “I’ll watch your back, if you watch mine.”
    “I’ll hunt if you gather wood for the fire.”

    Once some poor carcass was sufficiently blackened by fire,
    everyone huddled around to eat. Sure there was some hierarchy, but every individual was part of a survival machine. This is one reason why it’s so important to be accepted, and people will do crazy things to belong – just watch how teenage men wear their trousers.

    So, far this is pretty much indisputable; however, I admit that my aforementioned extrapolation pulled from the dark netherworld is debatable. Nevertheless, I assert
    that the tribal, consensus, follow-the-heard mentality is baked in, and therefore most of the primary attributes of entrepreneurialism do not exist in most people.

    Employees outweigh entrepreneurs for a reason. The primary inventions upon which the modern world sits are the brainchildren of just a few people among billions.
    There’s a reason for this beyond some Darwinian allocation of IQ points. Simply
    put, most of us cannot go it alone. It’ just not in us.

    I could go on to assert that socialism with a capitalistic bent may be the most natural government/economic system for we humans, citing the relative prosperity of Scandinavia, but that’s a story for another time.



  • Ben M.

    This might just be THE article. I did already start my side business but now it’s finding more business or maybe doing things slightly different…or maybe a completely different business. Something that I really enjoy. Especially since I’m convinced now that multiple entities is the way to go. In IT we have terms that refer to this sort of thing…a single point of failure, load balanced, or redundancy. I’m putting the wheels in motion today. Thank you James!

  • Dutch


    There are so many ways that this is true, that you’ll never even know so long as you continue to submit yourself to the slavery of an employee job. Not much more to say than that. Its your life. Either you take charge of it or you don’t….

    • Gil

      Why would abundance come from self-employment? Why is choosing to be employed somehow slavery to people here?

  • Marianne

    I was just considering going in the opposite direction. Operating a business these days can be brutal.

    • mikeyhell

      Thanks for the splash of cold water to the face, Marianne. It is indeed brutal out there for someone just starting out. Good luck with whatever you do.

  • http://twitter.com/robbieab Robbie Abed

    Amazing post James. I have been helping people with #5 a lot, but could never really articulate it properly and what you just wrote is awesome. thank you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Peter-Syme/576009782 Peter Syme

    10 years on from my own Corporate madness I wonder why more people have not made the move. Never before in history has their been so much opportunity on the planet and the cheap tools to communicate and do business globally are available to everyone. For those of you making the leap be careful of the advice on how to make $ much of it means you will be given up one dead end job for another dead end job with less money and benefits. Get involved where your passion is and work on it not in it. Make sure the business design keeps earning for you even if you cannot work as life has a habit of giving surprises. When you draw your last breadth you will have existed but will you have lived?

  • Hard Worker

    Top 4 reasons to not quit my job.
    #1. I get paid tons of money
    #2. I like my job
    #3. Cause my retirement plan is on track
    #4. Cause I’m not a whiney 99%er

    • usedpaint

      But as shown in your comment number #4
      1. you lack empathy
      2. you degrade people.
      3. you hold hostilities
      and your money can never fix that

      • Gil

        Are you a Libertarian assuming HardWorker has a cushy public sector job?

        • usedpaint

          No, I am a middle-age struggling artist who is trying to make sense of this world, and make a better life for myself. I wrestle to get myself up out of bed each day and it’s an effort to believe in myself just a little bit as I fight demons of doubt that relentlessly haunt me.

          I try to be a good person. Sometimes I slip.

          When I see chest-pounding ego maniac that can’t offer the slightest shred of consideration for anyone other than themselves. I lose it.

          I assume nothing about Hard-Worker’s employment.

          Sorry Hard-worker, you certainly don’t need me to tell you anything, especially what issues you may have. My bad.

          • Jessica K.

            I’m guessing Hard Worker is not the creative type.

          • Margo

            I think Its about types of people. I know some, who loooooove being in the office, having the sense of hierarchy, discipline, etc. I am not that type, and Im sure, you, usedpaint, are not either.

    • baker

      can you define tons of money? and how are you?

      • baker

        I meant to ask how old are you…

    • janus999

      Nobody is TELLING you to quit your job. If you actually read the article and some of the comments, it is just saying that if you are in that class and you realize it to do something about it. You might like your job, but the other points can go away quickly, depending on factors like the economy, the viability of the company you work for and their reaction to down trends; you have no idea what your retirement will be worth tomorrow or what sanctions will be put in place to make that retirement worthless – or even if you will be able to retire! What if the retirement age is pushed up again and you CAN’t retire until your 72? But its your choice, if your comfortable or blind then its up to you to choose what to do about it – nobody is forcing you.

  • Nat

    The solution is very simple: Replace most of the welfare state with a citizens royalty payment that kicks in at 21 years old. A trust fund for every citizen. Eliminates the negative incentives created by welfare (have kids to get the check, etc) but is in tune to the reality that a “workforce” is less and less relevant.

  • CitznKate

    I am not a prisoner, or a slave, but a servant. This does not degrade me, because all jobs are service jobs at the most basic level. I am currently in my dream job, even though I’m not making six figures or even anything close to it. I work with engineers all day long. Hundreds of them. Double E’s (electrical engineers), physicists, mechanical engineers, metallurgists, civil engineers, ceramic engineers, tribologists, a lot of them “mathemagicians” and even inventors… I have been with this huge and growing group, in this same company, for nine years almost. I am their administrative assistant, and I am having the time of my life. The company has given me great technology and a powerful computer with which I get more work done on accident than some people get done on purpose. My job changes every day. It evolves into something different every few months. My response to an approaching coworker is always, “what can I do for you?” Sometimes they surprise me. Then I like to turn the tables and surprise them. My job is fun, it buys my bread and cheese, and allows me to save for the inevitable rainy day as I do not engage in profligate spending. I do have a company pension plan in addition to my 401k but I have other savings as well. At my age I do not really have many years to work before I qualify for a pension from this company but I’m in no hurry to leave. I’m having too much fun. They could kick me to the curb tomorrow and I know I’d still be OK. I can work as a virtual assistant. So much of the business support trade is made up of work done electronically anymore that “facetime” is becoming a quaint and anachronistic requirement reminiscent of the company typing pool. Call it a prison cell if you want to, and tell me the door is open. I call it a castle, and to serve therein is a privilege.

    • RollerPro

      yet here you are

      • CitznKate

        And here you are. Having fun yet?

  • gensster

    “I have never once seen anyone save the increase in their salary.”

    I’m the only one I know who has actually done this… I have purposely maintained the same lifestyle relative to inflation (house size, expense of vehicles, toys, etc) for the last eighteen years or so. During that time our household income has almost tripled and I dollar-cost-averaged all the increased income through thick and thin of the markets. As a result I don’t have a house as large as most of my friends, but my net worth now dwarfs theirs and I could buy most of their houses (probably two of them) in cash if I wanted to. I have had friends literally call me an asshole for not choosing the natural human path of buying up to my income level. I was called crazy in 2005 for not pulling cash out of the house I bought in 1997 to blow on useless and temporary crapola, by friends who later had to unload their more-expensive properties in the housing crash.

    I know what I have done is not normal, but I just wanted to say that it is possible to do and there are some that do it. It’s a lifestyle choice that has to be adopted when one enters the workforce, requires a like-minded spouse, and takes a real discipline for differed gratification. This isn’t an “I know better” post, just a “now you have” response to James’s quoted statement above.

    • mikeyhell

      gensster, what you did used to be normal but at some point the rules got re-written and people like you are now just freaks to the rest of society.

      May you have many freakish children.

  • Ryan Finlay

    James, I love your posts. I couldn’t agree more. Your best paragraph was the one about people’s retirement plans. It needs to be put bluntly. Hopefully people wake up. I just wrote about How I will never have a normal Job again at my blog at ReCraigslist.com Thanks for writing

  • http://twitter.com/mraswan Marisa Swanson

    I did the same a little over a year ago, quit the grind to become a freelance writer full time. Just published my portfolio site and have thoroughly enjoyed feeling alive again.

  • http://twitter.com/beLIEve_Prjct J.H. Cowboy

    Thank you Mr. James… U are a constant spark of inspiration and I can personally attest to the freedom and enlightenment that comes to one for leaving their job and seeking greener pastures time and again. Of course my jobs afford me this luxury and i am all the more grateful for it… I would have my life to be no other way. Keep inspiring others-

  • http://www.facebook.com/2Ravens Angela Conley

    I quit my last poorly paying, crappy shifts, part-time only job in November. I have been trying to get a start on being a career artist since I graduated from college in 2010.

    I should mention that I am turning 33 this year; I’m divorced with a ten year old daughter. I had to work while in school. It took me twelve years of mac’n’cheese, moldy apartment windows, second hand clothes, cookware, and furniture to FINALLY get my BA and guess what?

    My fancy degree will never get me a job that will provide me with the basics in a stable way.

    All it did was make me aware of the world and its problems. Not to mention 46k in student loans that I was supposed going to have “no problem” paying back once I landed that perfect job with benefits. Problem is, that job is gone now, most likely never to be seen again.

    So I sew, paint, sculpt, print, try to step out a bit further every year. Maybe by the time my daughter is grown I will be living in some sort of stable, independent way. All I know is I want to be proud of how I spend my time and wasting it in some dead-end, low wage job is not for me.

    If you’re curious about my art you can do a Google search for Hub City Studios on Facebook, I have a little fan page there. I won’t post an actual link because that’s just tacky.

    • nosouthwest

      Post the link. The rest of your post makes up for it.

    • jquick99

      What did you get your degree in? If you can’t make a living wage with that degree, when did you realize this?

    • John

      Yes, post the link. I imagine James would call that “choosing yourself.”

      Good luck, Angela.

    • Brianna Aubin

      Post a link. One of the prime rules of networking is that the easier you make it for people to do what you want (in this case, buy your art) the more likely they are to actually do it. Nobody is going to google your webpage. But if you provide a link, some might check it out just out of curiosity.

  • Asia Expat

    I have avoided having one “boss” for a while, but it’s tricky. Two things to watch for:

    1- Work picks up with one client, maybe while other jobs are slacking a bit. Before you know it, that client is covering 60% of your income. Better than 100%, but still an uncomfortable weakness. As naturally tempting as it is to chase after the big money client, it’s probably better to get other clients to balance it out.

    2-Having many different clients/bosses, but all in the same sector. If all the work you are doing is for similar clients, watch out. The little market panic of 2008 hit me almost across the board. I lost clients, and others greatly reduced the work I was getting. I’m now trying to spread the risk. Put another way, a friend of mine has several restaurants and a budding doughnut business. He figures if people stop going to restaurants (as they do in hard times), they’ll still splurge on an occasional doughnut.

    Inspiring post, James, as I still need to put in the daily grind, and want very much to move beyond that.

    • mikeyhell

      Good points, Asia Expat. Spreading the risk—i.e., creating “optionality”—is certainly one of the keys to business longevity.

  • sakabaro

    typical liberal thoughts that destroy the economy

  • AndyK


  • ViniciusSpader

    Wonderful post James, one of the best I ever read! Thank you! The comments above are also really helpfull.

    I miss something however: how do you deal with the pressure that comes from society and from people you care about?

  • Lil Peck

    I was a serial minimum wage slave. I’ve had many different jobs, from publications designer at a university to night time janitor at a supermarket. Surprisingly, I liked being a night time janitor at a supermarket much better than I liked being a university publications designer. The university job put me in daily contact with narcissists who were always trying to outdo each other in trying to be the smartest (and sometimes, the sexiest) person in the room. The stress from that job made me psychotic. With the night time janitor job, there were no supervisors around to be a pita, and no one cared HOW I cleaned a toilet, they were just glad that I cleaned it.

    No employer, public or private, gives a damn about you. They will just chew you up, spit you out, and stomp on you. But, there are some advantages to having a job, even a minimum wage job, over going the entrepreneur route. I think the key is, as James suggested, to maintain an entrepreneurial mindset even when working for someone else. Think of yourself as someone who has a business of renting out your time to other businesses.

    Most of all, don’t give the bastards the satisfaction of getting you down! ;-)

  • jah

    I agree about that, because I never love with my job if I have a problem with the other people.

  • PhotoGuyMike

    Well if that’s how you feel I pitty you. Life is a wonderful adventure. You are missing the whole point. The journey is the destination.

  • chantal

    well, I’m depressed now.

  • Jim DeWaters

    James, feed-em hope. It’s cheap.

  • http://nomadiccapitalpartners.com/ Nick

    I agree with this sentiment. Quitting my job two years ago to pursue starting my own investment company was one of the best decisions of my life. Working for yourself in something you care about makes you feel more alive and motivated to achieve. Also, automation will knock out most non-creative jobs by 2030 anyway.

  • Brent

    #9 Inspired me to make a list.
    I’m a 19 year old freshman in college and James’ writing has had a real influence on me, forcing me to question the pre-determined path I’m on. I couldn’t be more thankful for that. He also helped me get started on a business, his idea of asking local small businesses to let me create and run their Facebook pages.

    What I came up with:
    I want to travel.

    I want to have a popular, helpful blog.
    I want to always have multiple sources of income.
    I want a bank of miles (or $) to travel on whenever I want.
    I want to always be as healthy as I can, no excuses.
    I want to write something people will read because they really want to.
    I want to know more than only the English language.
    I want to be able to inspire people when I get a chance to tell them my story.
    I want to be able to have someone disagree with me, and be totally okay with that.
    I want to cut every source of negative energy out of my life. Forever.
    I want to forget how to argue.
    I want to be able to never ever ever ever ever stress about things that don’t matter.
    I want to be able to drop everything and play/create at any moments notice.
    I want to write something every day that I can be proud of.
    I want to run a successful business from my laptop.
    I want to be able to never think/stress about how much money I have in the bank.
    I want to let go of attachment to my material “needs” and realize at any moment how silly they are.
    I want to be able to sell/pitch something to someone and be 100% completely okay when they say “no.”
    I want to completely get rid of the notion I’ve been conditioned to believe—that I need x or I need y to be happy.
    I want to be unafraid of being totally transparent and human. Even in business interactions.
    I never want to be afraid of or resist any emotion that comes over me—to learn to embrace them for what they are.
    I don’t ever want money to be the #1 goal in any pursuit or endeavor. #2, maybe.
    I want freedom. Whatever that means to me at any point in my life, I want it. I want to be happy.

    I encourage everyone to take 5 minutes and make a list. Just thinking about what you really want can begin to already make you feel so much more free.

    • Margo

      I was doing the same thing when I was 19 (It was 5 years ago), making a list of personal things to fix about myself in the future, and, while some of the things you posted WILL really help you, don’t forget that some of them (like being okay with people disagree with you) just comes with time. I wanted “not to let insecure insults of other people to hurt me”, and was fighting it with rage, to only realize, that it just comes as you go, when you start understanding yourself better, and feeling comfortable about your own decisions.

  • JB

    Last year I got a $5,000 raise and saved every penny of it. I already made enough to meet my needs, so instead of buying a new TV, or going out to dinner a couple more times a month, or whatever, I increased my saving by the amount of my raise. I’ll do the same again this year. So James, now there’s at least one person on your blog who didn’t spend their raise!

    I also started a small part time real estate management business last year. I do it after work hours and on weekends. I only make about $500 a month so far, but it keeps me free and I’m able to put up with the other job a little better. Maybe some day my small side business will become a large business and I can quit my job, but in the meantime it at least gives me something else to do that I truly love and gives me a little bit of income. Every little bit helps.

    I started the business because for several years I would think to myself “When I retire I want to do real estate investing and management.” Then one day I thought, why wait? So I started.

    Enjoy the blog.

  • LookBeforeLeap

    I can empathise. I started a business a few years after college, merged it with another, made an excellent living, and then it crashed 7 years later when the dotcom bubble burst. I was very excited about starting something new. I read lots of inspirational books and magazines. Networked like crazy. I spent 2 years trying various ideas, making almost nothing, with 2 little kids to support. It was soul-sapping. Unless you have the money to live for several years without new income, I recommend maintaining a job and getting things going on the side. A regular paycheck does not mean you can’t work on your new business idea. I went back to work for a couple small companies (in sequence, not parallel), and am looking to establish my next enterprise. I have started working on it on the side, letting the idea percolate and improve as I tweak things here and there. I have the freedom of doing anything I want, and no pressure to force anything, but I am gettin anxious and think I should get it out there soon. I won’t leave a paycheck until I can substitute my salary with other income. All the best to those who take the leap of faith and quit their jobs. I hope it works out for all of them, but it likely will not. Stay strong. Do what you have to do to survive.

  • Francisco González-Soldevilla

    Wow! So true, all of it! No wonder people follow you, James. You’re truly inspirational and you know well how to lead the way.

  • http://113tidbits.com/ tony greene

    I’ve had the opposite happen where my skills were praised but being in a really small town market it is very difficult to get out and market my skills effectively. For now, this is a major problem for me.

  • Rhodes Davis

    I read this blog frequently but don’t comment. I appreciate the thoughts in this article but the last paragraph was beautiful prose. I reread it several times like an audiophile would repeatedly listen to a pleasing melody. Thanks for creating it.

  • John Martel


    Two weeks ago I stepped out of my prison cell, walked down the hallway, and got a glimpse of the freedom outside. After reading this blog and others for years I finally took action and started a business. I know I will be successful because I won’t stop trying, innovating, and creating until I am free. Peter Drucker, you, and others are right about the changes we’re seeing today. It was inevitable. The way I see it, I have two choices: slavery or freedom. And I don’t think that’s being overly dramatic.

    I loathe my job now. I find it repulsive, like a sickness deep in my gut. I wasted years sacrificing my health, time, and abilities to please those that cannot be pleased. Yet at the same time, a quiet calmness overcomes me at work. All the complaints from fellow employees, heavy-handed management ultimatums, angry customers, they all mean nothing to me. All I can think about is getting through the day so I can work towards my freedom.

    I will not smash these prison walls down and torch what remains. I will quietly slip through the bars, walk out the gate, and disappear into the night.

    From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

    • Frank229

      “pleasing those that cannot be pleased.” That about sums it up.

  • IPOC

    I have read a few articles that Obama might start a Government Retirement Council who would immediately seize all 401k’s etc to make a national fund.Then allot the monies out to what the council deems correct.Have you heard of anything like this?

  • Uncle John

    all of the college people I know are out of work or suffering ona small social security pension. I became a readesmanand am retired on 7 grand a month. I curse my high shcool guidance counseler who would not let me go to trade school every day. I had to get in the trades sideways.

  • Paulina

    I did this. Living my dream overseas now, in a country not quite as greedy, self destructive or corrupted with capitalism that I can now enjoy my new job wholeheartedly (a job of my own choosing – working with young children) which offers less pay and a much, much higher quality of life (considerably 1000x better) with time for myself, for writing, hobbies, for family and friends.

  • Mr. Angry

    You could also do what I do right now: build your business WHILE working at your job. I have no qualms with getting out of my cubicle to go in the hallway and discuss strategies with clients.

    I don’t do much for my current job, and they may eventually notice, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get there. At I’m making money to pay bills before everything takes off.

    A little evil, but who the hell cares, right?

  • jose

    excellent post. It seems to be a majority mentality to find security in your life from your job and then establishing your entire identity around it. I know many who derive most of their security from their job, usually working for someone else, it seems like an insane mentality but it comforts many. work, eat, sleep ..repeat

    you’re life is your career and your time is the most valuable asset

  • http://twitter.com/CarrotDonkey83 CarrotDonkey

    James, you have written a few posts about why we should quit our jobs and I totally agree to them. But I think the issue with most of us is not about not knowing why we should quit our jobs, but it is because we are not sure how to quit our jobs. Perhaps a post with your thoughts/advice on this in the future?

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Yes, very good idea.

      • http://www.jamesrutt.com JRELLC

        If I might be so bold, James, this may be the source of some of the negative comments you’re getting. I like reading your stuff but remember practicality needs some

        • http://www.jamesrutt.com JRELLC

          oops…space as well. Not everyone has the intelligence of a Mark Zuckerberg or..you know..the Twitter founder guys.

          That said, keep up the good work.

          • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

            It depends on the post. I have several posts: “how to be an idea machine”, “9 ways to light your creativity on fire”, “the easiest way to be an entrepreneur”, and many others that start to get into details. But in an upcoming book I have a combine all of this plus more stories. Due out May 1. THE CHOOSE YOURSELF ERA

  • Guest

    Very good idea

  • Kevin Redick

    Right on!

  • tara

    Brilliant! The corporate world has got us all brainwashed into submission. Here’s another thing to consider. Ever notice how many people in corporations at high levels are dolts who have been there for centuries and started out in the mailroom? They don’t want smart free thinkers. Those types are trouble makers. They want rank and file yes men. If you’re really talented the last place you should be is in a corporation. Its like an army – no one should think for themselves. They should only follow the orders of their superiors.

    • Fred Garvin

      Check out R. Don Steele’s Office Politics … where he agrees … with humor!

  • Chen Xiao

    Thank you very much. It encouraged me.

    I translate it to chinese in my blog.


  • Monte

    Dan I am really impressed, and I love to find material like yours. The way you state some of the views here is pretty harsh, but that’s your style. I get it. I’m right now in the middle of the biggest life change I could ever imagine, I’m cutting free, going “off the grid”, creating a new path and a new adventure for myself. Check it at HeHappyThere(dot)com.

    • Monte

      Typing too fast –
      I meant James! So sorry. Please edit that.

  • http://www.uberfuzz.com UBERFUZZ

    Good pointers., i’ll pass them on.

  • Colin


    I’m glad I found your blog recently. It is filled with great advice and it aptly summarizes the way I’ve been feeling about most things for the last few years.

    Right now, I feel like the guy down in the pit being thrown just enough scraps to not try and climb out. I’m educated, too educated, what a waste. I spent 7 years in advanced education and I realize now I would have much rather spent that time exploring my own ideas. You can learn anything you want without formal education at this point.

    I’m at the point now where I’m ready to move, but I don’t know how to make it happen. To make matters worse, I’m imposing a subconscious psychological pressure on myself because my birthday is coming up and I feel older (although it is stupid because I’m still a few years shy of 30). I know it to be stupid but I can’t seem to stop.

    I’ve taken some steps, I started learning on my own time. I feel ready to stop the learning steps and start doing. I have a few ideas but they might be difficult to actually implement. More than anything, I feel like I need a mentor. The prison walls and cell door are visible now I’m just looking for the key.

    I’m curious if anyone else has had positive experiences by surrounding themselves with other like minded people? Maybe someone who has been there done that not too long ago? Where could one look? Like I said I’m taking steps but I feel stuck in a rut as to the next step, any advice from anybody is appreciated.

  • SomeGuyOnTheInterwebs

    I read this article and found myself nodding my head on almost all points.

    i worked in a job and that bug started biting me that i have to get out. I have had this nagging feeling for a while. Anyway, finally the company i was working for started retrenchments. People where scared and i found myself feeling almost liek i want to be retrenched. that was the sign… anyway, i wasn’t retrenched but decided to quit and start my sideline business full-time. A fellow work colleuge did the same and we ended up having a business together for a few years. it went ok but not great, but it morphed into something far from my vision i had for my business so i eventually decided to part ways. His business is still doing ok.
    Anyway, an opportunity presented itself where could collaborate with other people that shared my vision. long story short, I got a life lesson in peoples intentions and how money can cause greed. I lost a lot, decided to move and try again. In order to makes end meet at the time i had to take up another job..a rather well paying job…but my soul is unhappy. it’s just not me and what I like to do with my life. it’s like i present no real value. only perceived value but somehow makes me feel rather worthless.
    I helped my wife start her business and she is doing well. I am so happy she is free, but I still have this itch i cannot get rid off. i need to do my own thing. it’s been 5 years already though :-/
    I try spend after hours etc on it but it is just taking forever. I will make it happen though…. somehow.

    My point being that “working life” (funny oxymoron that :) ) really is like a prison. Once you are in it it’s really hard to get out. It takes big balls to quit and go out into your own esp if you got a comfortable salary. Good luck to you guys…and wish me luck that 2013 is indeed the year I can break free.
    Anyway… just wanted to give my bit on here.

  • Frank229

    I know someone else mentioned it, but I think it would be great if you did a series of articles on HOW to go about this. Hell, this could be your next book. We all are pretty familiar with the why, I believe.

    I have what should be a dream job (television editor) with dream pay and am in demand, but it’s still working for someone else. I don’t call the shots and I have to be there Monday through Friday for the same 10-12 hours a day, sometimes even longer, and they have me by the balls. Especially now that I’m in a union, have an 8 month old daughter, and depend upon the union health insurance for my family.

    Many of us have nothing left at the end of the regular work day. So to find the time and reserves of will to do something else beyond that is difficult and sometimes feels impossible. I also get anticipation anxiety, where I I feel like if I do something like that, the time will tick by to having to return to work even faster, and then I’m in competition with the day job and the time it sucks up making my time there even MORE miserable.

    How does one combat all of these things? What are the strategies? Where do you find the time pockets and, more importantly, the WILLPOWER reserves to do this?

    Recently I was reading some interesting articles on willpower and how it’s like a gas tank that needs time to refill and when we are tired and have had to use our will to get through an unpleasant task (like, say, 8-10 hours of soul crushing work), we need to relax and fill it up again. I don’t think there’s anything like an unexpected day off where you go for a walk in the park, do whatever you want, and experience day dreaming and the release of that pressure to let you know that THIS is what you want to feel like more of the time. We also NEED more of this. I actually think less people would quit their day jobs if we had a day off in the middle of the week. In some strange way, it’d actually keep more people IN the prison if they were able to experience just 8-10 additional hours of freedom with their time per week. insane, isn’t it?

    But that’ll never happen in the productivity obsessed U.S. of A., so off we go to find our alternative. The other part of it is, why exactly should we BE productive? I’m grappling with these questions now, things I had never even considered, like, “Why do I even beat myself up for NOT doing those side projects on my time off if I’d rather just watch a bunch of movies and take my kid to the park?” Yet there’s something there, something ineffable, and something obviously not being fed, but it’s at war with the part of me that needs to lay down in the road so that I can relax and then be run over for 10 hours, 5 days a week by my day job.

    Clearly… this is a HUGE area for you to explore, James and I sincerely hope you do. We’d all be much better for it, I’m sure.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Definitely. IN fact, I have a book coming out approximately May 1 on this: The Choose Yourself Era.

      • Frank229

        That’s amazing, can’t wait to read it. One thing I wondered – when you’re writing a book like that, is it difficult not to change course or go back and change the material based upon what you’re reading in the comments here everyday? Your blog is like a church to some of us, and the comments are almost as useful to me as the articles. I even (nerdy, yes) screen grab some of them and keep them in a collection file of that sort of thing. But that’s exactly the kind of thing I need to get beyond… it seems as though this kind of motivational writing, planning, and day dreaming can be an addiction and an impediment in and of itself. It’s turning all of this information into action that’s the hard part. Before that, it seems even more important that we go through brainstorming and self examination about what we do actually enjoy, what we have to offer, how we can help others and being attuned to a need in ‘the market’ and how we can fulfill it while also fulfilling ourselves.

        Clearly, I really need this book right now!

    • Margo


  • James Kostohryz

    James, you are the CHOOSE YOURSELF guru. And so many are grateful to you! I hope you never – even in your darkest hours — forget the meaning and the value you are creating in people’s lives.

  • Damiana Swan

    A little over 4 years ago I realized two things.

    One, I was miserable in my job. Yes, it paid the bills–mostly–and provided insurance for me and my kids–again, mostly–but it was also making me physically ill.

    And two… all those huge obstacles that were standing in my way, stopping me from doing something that would actually make me happy? They weren’t obstacles. They were *logistics*.

    I just passed my 4 year anniversary in a job that I adore, where I’m appreciated by my bosses and co-workers, and where what I do makes a real difference in the world. And my partner and I have a separate business that we both love, that also allows us to do our own bit to make the world a better place.

    It’s all just logistics. And, when you come down to it, logistics are *easy*.

  • http://profiles.google.com/donn.christianson Donn Christianson

    This is good for impetus, incentive, encouragement. Few of us can execute it outright, right now, which isn’t what I see you suggesting we do. What you need is some kind of plan and the willingness to execute it. That is what my wife and I are doing. We are working a short term (few year) plan to:

    a) get out of debt — completely and totally.
    b) build up some savings.
    c) start alternate sources of income that don’t rely on being a corporate wage slave.
    d) continue to prep our “escape plan” as it were.

    Now the plan may change as things change but, right now, if we needed to, either of us could lose our jobs and we’d be OK. We would not lose our home or damage our credit.

    What is the plan? Work the current job(s), burn down the debt to Zero, continue to improve and outfit our home for our adventure. It’s pretty simple how little one can live on when there is no debt and your costs are low.

    Then leave; take our 35 foot sailing yacht and see the world.

    And never, ever, not ever, be a corporate wage slave, ever again.

    That’s the plan currently under execution.

  • hampotato

    I’m glad I read this tonight, as tomorrow is the day I tell my employer that it’s time for me to start my life. This article is 100% correct. Big business has failed us, it has destroyed the economy and has created a two-tiered caste system. If unimpeded, this creates an environment for which people will do anything to make money. Including inventing the next killer app. I’ve lived long enough to see this happen once. (late 80’s early 90’s, then the sudden economic boom we got when people figured out how to make money)

    Big business are not job creators, they are now fine tuned machines that seek to become even more efficient at making money. aka, firing people they dont need, and not hiring anyone to replace them.

    So the logical choice to to become the sharks


    James, your article has caused quite a stir in the quiet circles of my family, where four of my siblings are entrepreneurs and the other four are approaching classic retirement (pension vested). Each side is eyeing the other, wondering whether they took the wrong road. The entrepreneurs definitely have more fun, but the work is always pressing and the rewards are volatile. As an entrepreneur, you learn to walk with one foot on a pedestal and one foot in the grave. If you’re doing it right, it feels like dancing! Thanks for stirring things up!

  • Kris Åsard

    “Greet him with hugs and kisses”? Really? I’m not sure wich movie you were watching. Logans Run maybe. Or the Care Bears adventure. This, however, is the actual ending to THX 1138:


  • Antoine de Brabant

    If you’re going to leave your job make sure to do it with style https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9A4UGtM4hDQ. And make sure to be a member of http://www.jobbook.com

    • http://twitter.com/Kamil_A Kamil Alem

      Great website! I’m signing up today

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1447134424 Michael Matalucci

    The Middle Class isn’t dead. Entrepreneurialism is dead. If is far more difficult to start a business today than it was 50 or 60 years ago. The cartelization of entire industries, starting with the banking industry, is the primary cause. The monopolization of the currency and regulatory capture are the cartels’ primary modus operandi.

    Just watch the business news and look at all of the corporate consolidation going on. Exactly who do you think wrote the anti-trust laws? Who do you think writes the regulations? Stefan Molyneux referred to it as “human farming”. YOU are the most valuable resource to the cartels, and they will do what is necessary to keep you on the “farm”.

  • MotherLoad.me

    Thank you. I needed to be reminded of the decisions I’ve made in the past while.

  • http://www.5toolgroup.com/ Jay Oza

    You are getting to be Seth Godin with hair and edge. He talks about this in his new book.

  • DKNC

    I knew I had to leave my job when one day I spent the entire day searching for recipes on the internet that used sweetened condensed milk…(And my job was in technology, not cooking!) I went to meetings and I could feel my hair grow …I was so bored. People thought I was taking notes in the meeting but really I was writing my memoirs “The Death of the Soul in Corporate America.” I crawled out of the long dark tunnel into the light and I have never looked back!

  • Farmer

    Consumerism and your stuff is the millstone around your neck. To breakaway you need to
    shed these weights. Also, a low overhead woman is a must for men who want to be free…

  • http://twitter.com/charlierein Charles Rein

    Great Article, I have been a technical recruiter for 30 years and we joked in the 80’s during the 1981 recession in Houston (hugely hit), that there was outsourcing, downsizing and our term “new wave firing”, get rid of all the people you don’t want even though you are doing well and blame the economy.

  • Grant

    Dude – you nailed it! Also love the “letter from your daughter”. I have four and am redefining myself everyday to be a better father and person. At 47 this is the very first time I have ever posted on a blog or commented. Thanks for the “stuff” as my uncle the writer would say. Grant

  • John

    James, this is so true, we should all start today and change our present situations.

  • Ana

    Ok, I’m seeing more and more pieces like this one, so I know the wind’s shifted. For years I thought it was just me. “I want my freedom!” has been my mantra all my life. I graduated college in ’82 and we were at the apex of the corporate state. Accordng to everyone around me, that was all there was ever going to be.

    So here we are now in a different age, and just in time for me as I’m getting up there now. I have only one rule stemming back from that time. That “I need the insurance” excuse … well … it does need to be paid attention to.

  • http://www.chamberspivot.com/category/find-new-business-blog/ Greg Chambers

    Well said. Once you accept that failure isn’t “the end” those first steps get easier to take. Enjoy the ride!

  • Vivaldi

    I would very much like to quit my job and start a busyness. Can you lend me $10 000 to start a business James? Or where should i get it?

    Not everyone have friends and connections, or wealthy parents or something to be able to follow theyre interests you know. There are things like “circumstances”. Most of the people are happy to have theyre jobs, coz they are strugling for survival. Leaving the job is a suicide for them and theyre families. But looks like you didnt had to worry about that right?)

    There are millions of smart and creative people who wants and can create. But nobody cares of them. Nobody cares of that they are poor as hell. But everyone likes to post such things like “you are all idiots coz you didnt started a business”. And everyone think that theyre success comes from theyre strong will and the decision to start theyre own thing, and not from that theyre had no need to care for the family, or being born in the rich one. The chances of geting some succes in the startup for simple people is 1 to million. Everyone else will die from starvation, leaving only debts behind.
    All this is no more than ” look how smart i am and what shit you are”. Bull shit.

    • http://www.facebook.com/anders.mikkelsen Anders Mikkelsen

      I think this is a bit defeatist. People do not need $10,000 to start any business – thankfully. How much does it cost to start a lawn mowing business? Showing a small business how to use social media? Catering high end desserts? Growing high value food or flowers? Selling a new product? It may take time to learn to be a plumber or mechanic but it can be done. Poor people can learn that they are not less than others and can be productive helpful people and do not have to do unskilled labor.

    • Haydée Bouscasse

      What is sure is that you will not be this 1 (on a million) :p

  • Muslim Mahmood

    Thanks a lot man.

  • piotrek

    I quit my job few weeks ago. Never been happier James. I love to read your articles.

  • HiltonB1

    Spectacular article and aligns with my own experiences. There were episodes in my career when I was a wage slave and, albeit infrequently, organizations where i felt challenged & appreciated. 9 months into my own story I wonder why it took me so long. It is a combination of sphincter-tightening terror and euphoric freedom – in equal doses. However, my impetus was because doing it now i have the energy to sustain the grind…I know I wouldn’t have that energy in a decade. Starting now gives me an edge over those who will start later. My simple advice. Start. Today.

    My experiences in a post here: http://wp.me/p3427c-iP

  • http://twitter.com/gcam gary cambridge

    This piece resonates beyond what mere words can explain. Up until the beginning of December 2012, I was stuck in a job that I absolute hated. Some of the people I met and worked with were great, but the leadership and the “cog” nature of the work made my 8 hours painful. I would have to psyche myself up when I entered the building in the morning and throughout the day. I did plan on leaving in June of 2013, but they did me the favor and granted me an early release. Every single one of your 10 items are right on point with what I would express to my peers and family. Great post. Now my life begins.

  • mcisco

    A fantastic article, James and extremely timely in my current situation. I’m 31, completely disillusioned with working for the large educational institution which has employed me for the last five years. No matter what position I take or promotion I receive, the same stale issues end up stealing any joy associated with such a change. I have a brilliant friend who is desperate to start something together (instant support and partner) and I know we can be successful. Thank you very much for your words of advice; they were precisely what I needed to hear! Edit: It seems good etiquette to use your real name on this forum. I’m Micah Francisco and I’m following you on twitter (@MicahFrancisco).

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000573162011 Alicia Huntley

    I love what I do, I’m a midwife, I take care of women and deliver babies. What keeps me down isn’t the corporate mentality, it’s the medical mafia and the laws that restrict what I can do and how and where I can do it. I’m not willing to risk hard time working outside the system. And trust me, I know that it can happen, I’m always being asked to contribute to the legal fund of one or another of my comadres. Do you have any suggestions?

  • http://www.pamelahoke.com/ PamHoke

    Another, awesomely bold note to inspire. Perhaps adding to “…quit your job this year” for the really fearful folks still plugged into thinking with the current economic system, “at least start working on the plan to quit now.” Some just aren’t ready to take the red pill, James:) I do love how you shock them into thinking in this one, though – it’s like a great mooning. Cheers!

  • CTK

    James youre a smart guy and I respect what youve done but you’re way off base here. Long story short, a job, like a business, is a means to an end, and can be used to one’s advantage. There are so many holes in this, I’m not sure where to start. I will just go point by point.

    1) Middle class is not dead. It might be in some regions- Northeast & West Coast for example- but not everywhere.

    2) Its true that automation is a growing low level job killer, but- and this is a recurring theme with my gripe with this article- “starting a business” won’t save you from its impact. If you can’t escape automation with a job, how do you expect to escape it by starting a business?

    3) This example is goofy just based on the fact that Twitter followers != article views. So the reporter’s logic was flawed, which was the boss’s contention. Not to mention your example is a statistically insignificant anecdote- what % of workers cite online presence as the basis of compensation?

    4) Indeed, money is not happiness, but at the same time I’m not going to leave money on the table “just cause”. If I can have a job, a business and investment income all at the same time, why wouldn’t I? And making more money doesn’t mean one will automatically spend it all; if that was the case there would be no such thing as wealth or the wealthy

    5) Being an employee doesn’t mean your employer controls your life. If you position yourself to weather bouts of unemployment with savings and to be a desirable candidate in the job market 1 employer won’t make or break you. And even with a business, 1 person can shut you down. Case in point, all the landlords who spike rent on NYC businesses once they see them making money. If the takeaway here is that you are in full control of your life as a business owner you’re dead wrong

    6) Neither a job nor business is meant to “satisfy needs”. Its a tool and a means to an end. Most people won’t find spiritual satisfaction from their work and that is OK. I’d rather take the money and use that + my free time to find said satisfaction elsewhere.

    7) My retirement plan is OK. A big help is the fact that my employer matches what I put into my 401K. And my job doesn’t limit me from making any other investments. You didn’t explain at all how being an entrepreneur would put me in a better position… in the context of retirement there’s nothing I can’t do at my job that I could do out of it.

    8) This is damn near malicious. Not everyone is meant to be an entrepreneur or a sole business owner, and the goofy shaming of people who choose to work for someone else is ridiculous. Mind you, I am employed, but I also do freelance work, as does my wife. And I am trying to transition to becoming an independent contractor. But I have a plan. You are trying to shame people into potentially terrible decisions- especially in these economic conditions.

    Not to mention, as I am sure you know but purposely didn’t say, over a very short period of time (<5 years) most small businesses fail. Obviously this affects workers and owners, but the difference is a worker walks away just needing a job… an owner walks away needing a job and losing whatever they invested into the business.

    9) So people shouldn't make excuses, but they shouldn't rush into things. Confusing advice.

    10) Yea a job will never provide abundance. Tell that to all the employees in the 1%. I don't know about you but I'd rather be a managing director of a hedge fund making $40 million a year than a guy with a fruit stand making $40K a year.

    This blog post is the height of journalistic irresponsibility. People need to figure out what they want and need, and then utilize whatever tool, be it a job or starting a business, will help them get there. It seems to me like you have a grudge with corporate America and are projecting it through this misguided notion of entrepreneurship being a financial & spiritual catchall. I just had to say my piece

    • Torio

      +1 for this reply. I generally like James’ stuff but sometimes he becomes overzealous. I come from a family of serial entrepreneurs, some of them successful, some of them not, but I don’t have any desire to be one myself.

      James says “10 reasons you should quit your job” But what if I LIKE my job? I like the structured setting of a corporate environment. Then apparently I am an undermensch who isn’t realizing himself enough and I should just prepare myself to be replaced by the robots, retire at 70 without a retirement because I took James’ advice, then spend the rest of my life in poverty.

      If only I had been entrepreneurial enough to start a muffin-baking business that would naturally have been bought up by a national muffin-baking chain and given me a nice 50 million dollar windfall, then I would have realized myself in the right way.

    • http://www.facebook.com/anders.mikkelsen Anders Mikkelsen

      I agree with james – but I agree your points must be kept in mind.

  • soulkinect

    Thank you for your honesty and courage. I’ve felt the same way for so long. its like im allergic to the rat race and slave labor. Every job i’ve had left me unmotivated, dissatisfied, underpaid/under-appreciated…especially in the USA. Where the wage compensation is a joke!

    I appreciate you! you have motivated me to push forward on my path.

    Blessings to you/yours


  • Matt

    This article is an 11 out of 10. Amazing post, James! I’m investing in myself, doing the daily practice, & have found excitement again working on a new start-up with friends.

    I’ve been a loser & failed before so I’m keeping my expectations extra low this time :)

  • TheEthicalMan

    Re: #3, “Corporations don’t like you” might be provocative, but it isn’t very nuanced.

    I think you’ve missed something significant about the impulse behind that executive editor’s admittedly small point of view (after all, having a writer with a following benefits the publication for which that writer writes). I agree that an executive editor shouldn’t be upset or complaining about his writers’ officially off-platform successes, but it’s worth pointing out that writers do get a tremendous amount of benefit from writing for an established publication:

    • Good editing, which provides invaluable professional training and significantly benefits the writing;
    • A platform (assuming we’re not talking about a rinky-dink local publication) that has corralled great marketing, sales, technology, design (etc.) people—as well as other writers—into a single unit to promote, sell, and package content, and a pre-existing audience to read it;
    • Instant cache and credibility that very few individuals are capable of developing on their own.

    There are fewer great writers than we might think, and even fewer who don’t benefit greatly from having a skilled editor, and even fewer who could become successful independent writers without first benefitting from what an established publication has already built up.

    So, even if I don’t think that executive editor was saying something particularly wise or smart, I can at least understand why having a writer constantly ask for raises in such a scenario would inspire some resentment from management, without resorting to the conclusion that management is out to see its writers fail. I can also sense that the executive editor you’re referring to probably wouldn’t have put it exactly the way he did if he were in a more serious setting and asked to carefully explicate his viewpoint.

  • Corri Milner

    Great article, James Altucher! It takes some steps for others to arrive where you did. Been there, done that. As a Life Coach, I see people struggle with the realities of existence, at first with blinders on, locking reality in an internal hidden closet. The unfolding to courage, one’s capabilities (sometimes unknown), discovering the gems of who we truly are (we are always more than we know), with endless possibilities. Wonderful to hear that you are — Living Your Potential!

    Thank you for this article. — Corri @ Corri Coaching

  • Petra

    You speak to my heart! To me, everything you say is true, because it matches my own experiences. And let’s face it, the general truth is that as long as you do a job you don’t love, you die. Somewhere inwardly, we die when we do something that rips at the fabric of our heart. Our creativity is crushed. We develop all kinds of physical ailments and diseases. We lose dignity, self-respect, and our self-esteem goes down the drain. And before too long we turn into someone we never wanted to be… Love.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Thomas-Weeks/1144277079 Thomas Weeks

    This is lazy, apathetic bullshit. if you want a strong middle class pursue political policies that will nurture it: progressive taxation, strong anti-trust laws, strong bank regulations, laws that strengthen unions (which created the middle class in the first place) – off the top of my head. The answer is not for everyone to start their own business selling bead jewelry.

    • http://www.facebook.com/anders.mikkelsen Anders Mikkelsen

      There are two problems with this solution.
      1. Why would the political system change and start delivering?
      2. Political systems can re shuffle wealth. But to create wealth requires the political system unleash the people. And yes, the people are leashed. I recommend John Taylor Gatto, especially his underground history of American education.

  • Lauren Robertson

    Thank you for this brave and insightful post. I’m one of the lucky ones- I came out of school at 16 and fell into self employment in the realms of personal development and spirituality- I love people and knowing their business and finding out what made them happy has always been really interesting to me. I am now 26 and I have never not been self-employed. I do what I want, when I want and I don’t feel like I’ve done a days work in my life because I love every minute of it…HOWEVER…In the early days, when I was trying to build my name into a brand, I did have to seek part-time employment on top of my self-employed work. I worked for a big banking firm, as a waitress, in a bar, as a make up artist in a department store…only ever a few months at a time to try to keep my head above water financially. The only way that I could live with myself going to those jobs every day was because I knew that there was a greater purpose brewing behind them and that working for ‘the man’ was funding my plan! I honestly don’t think I could have turned up to those jobs if there was no endgame. My advice to anyone considering sacking the ’employee’ status is this: follow whatever lights a fire in your belly. If you have a raging, burning idea for a business that you simply must do then let that passion drive your ‘transition’ from being a person who has a ‘job’ to being a person who has a ‘magnificent life purpose’, accept that you may need to do it bit by bit- bit by bit is still something! Yes, it may mean working much longer hours as you balance your day job with giving your dream momentum, it may mean sacrificing buying stuff to plug the money back into what you love doing, and it may mean giving up your social life for a while until you figure it out, but hey, if you’re not willing to put up with that for a short time in exchange for a lifetime of real freedom and answering to yourself and only yourself then you have to go back to the drawing board and ask if that idea is really enough to keep you focused in times of doubt (I had many, many times of doubt!) Do what you really really want to do with your life. Ask yourself honestly: ‘If money was no object, what would I love to do? If I faced no judgement about my choices, what would I be happiest doing?’ and just go for it, or at least, die trying (you’re going to die anyway so it’s better than the other option which is to die having not tried!) When you discover and acknowledge a waking dream: an ambition that you can’t go one single day without thinking about, then there won’t be a force in the world strong enough to stop you from making that transition and doing it. If, I, a 16 year old kid from Scotland can do it, so can you. Good Luck!!!

  • boiledgoose

    A job can never fulfill you. That is not the purpose of a job. The purpose of a job has historically been to make ends meet. If you want fulfillment then you have to let your satisfaction be your hard work. But that’s not fulfillment in a job, that’s fulfillment in what you do, and that applies to everything.

  • http://www.facebook.com/eric.leath.5 Eric Leath


    You have so accurately expressed a perspective and method that I have been living for the last few years, without taking the time to articulate it in the way that you did. I will also pass this on to those people in my life who weigh on me in such a negative way saying I’ll never “get away” with what I’m trying.

  • janus999

    I never made a massive amount of money in my job, but I used to make enough to have well over half of my income left over after paying all my expenses. I started out 28 years ago making twice what the minimum wage was, which wasn’t bad at the time. Over the years, my employer kept chipping away at my income, eventually reducing my pay (effectively). It is 2013 and I take home less pay than I did in 1998, because every mistake they make comes out of the average worker’s paycheck. I worked for many years to move to a better assignment, and finally got it – but then my employer pulled the rug from under me and tried to lay off everyone in my facility. I was one of a few that didn’t get the axe, out of 44.

    I was “redeployed” to another place – a place where I have to put up with demoralizing conditions, physically harder work than ever, and due to pay freezes and workers forced to “contribute more” to every benefit the employer offered I’m losing 38% of my pay. They pile it on with placing “supervisors” above us who have no experience in our profession, and serve nothing more but to continually nag and nit-pick about things that have no bearing on the reason I am there, while ignoring gaping problems that are in dire need of addressing.

    I don’t blame my employer for me being there – that was my decision. At one time it looked like I was close to being able to buy a house – that slipped away with the housing boom / bust. I thought I would be able to get into the game industry as an artist – until the college system saw how much people were making in that profession and started degree programs – now you can’t get a job in video game art, or any type of digital art or graphics with your portfolio (like it used to be), they won’t even look at you without a degree first. The same goes for tech jobs, another area I was interested in – no degree, no job; and even if you have a degree there’s no guarantee that you will get viable employment – employers are cheap as ever, many offering only part-time work, and not part-time leading to full-time either – just plain old part-time forever.

    There used to be so many ways to get a job you could just turn them down, now they are turning job seekers down. Anyone remember on-the-job training? Vocational programs? Tax incentives to employers who hired people and trained them? At one time blue collar work was easy to get into, many entry level positions paying good wages were available; but now, not only are there not many opportunities for blue collar work, they pay less than they used to. I see plumbers, electricians, hvac, metal and factory worker positions posted for $12 – 15 per hour – those salaries used to be $40.00 and up. No matter where I turn, it looks hopeless.

    I’m working on “doing my own thing” – that’s something that will take time, though. Even though I have worked a long time, neither is my retirement lump sum nor my retirement benefit very healthy. The lump sum of my retirement isn’t enough to even buy a cheap condo – I could live on it maybe 4 years if I drew the amount I am making now, living the same way I am living. Speaking of which, it doesn’t help that landlords keep raising rent, the cost of living keeps getting higher, everything keeps getting more expensive. Utilities, food, car expenses (I dive a used bucket) – I’m working just to stay off the street about now, there is no disposable income and as of late I have had to use payday loans just to eat (I don’t have or use credit). So it’s tough to try and break out and do your own thing when you have no monetary resources – but i have hope and I will continue to do whatever I come across and keep trying… because hope is free and keeps me from losing my mind along with my shirt.

  • Erik Blair

    Great set of ten… now right the top ten excuses why people remain at jobs they hate:) Aloha

  • Anonymous

    Hi James, I love reading your blog. I am a new reader, (maybe 2 weeks now). You wrote: “Because the basic fact: people spend what they make. and I have never once seen anyone save the increase in their salary” = Well I can tell you… You have now met that person!!! For two decades I scrimped and saved. I then made more money and I saved even more! I am not the norm. I am very frugal. For two decades I asked myself “Do I want this or do I need this?” After saving for so long, I finally felt somewhat secure. I set goals to save and I hit those targets and beyond. Have you ever read “The Millionaire Next Door” – they live well below their means. So I finally felt secure. I had my 401k, money in the bank, a few years of cash to live on, benefits through work, etc. It was “ok” if I lost my job but I didn’t just lose my job, I lost it all, family, home, the life I knew and in the end, I had some $ left but I didn’t care. I was just trying to keep myself waking up every day. The money meant nothing… and then you know what I did when I started to emerge from the darkness?? I decided to not touch the money I had b/c I needed it to get a roof over my head but I needed a little extra cash to get me by without touching what I had left. I somehow stumbled upon daytrading and used a little bit of $$… (I know kind of ironic). I hadn’t gambled in 2 decades, I didn’t feel I was gambling!!! So many “free” chatrooms and people you see trading that are doing well, make you believe it is easy. I certainly did not want to pay for a chatroom lol. No one tells you that only a “VERY” small percentage make it in daytrading or swing trading. It doesn’t feel like real money. So I gave myself a certain amount of time to turn things around. I was going to stop trading. Enough with the losses but yet I knew I had some good trades and when everything lined up, it “was” easy. So people persuaded me to keep trying and I fought it and then I said, ok I kept trying… reluctantly until I didn’t realize the money was gone. 50% gone, I was freaking out, I had to get it back, 75% gone, (really freaking out), anxiety attacks all that. I was a better trader, I learned so much, I certainly could get it back now and thought this must be tuition. It wasn’t until I lost 90% and took one huge loss that I realized what the heck I had done. It really was gone. It was now real to me. Now I’m sitting here still trying to figure out what I can do but yet I will be starting a temp job in a few weeks, where I will work my ass off and will get a guaranteed paycheck, until they decide they don’t need me anymore. I read how you lost $15 million. I don’t know that I could ever recover from that. My total loss in the markets is beyond my comprehension but it is well below that, however it is above 6 figures and then some. So I read this today and I say to myself… I can do it. I can do something on my own yet I feel I lost that chance and I need the money to come in and be steady, so I am torn between a job with a guaranteed check coming to me every week and trying to create a service for others, that will create a new life for me. Anyway, thanks for your post today. I will read and re-read it. I may try this job out anyway but, in the end, I know I can do something else. It’s odd that I tried the trading b/c I like security. In the end, I have nothing but myself and what I have to offer.

  • Anonymous

    Hi James, I love reading your blog. I am a new reader, (maybe 2 weeks now). You wrote: “Because the basic fact: people spend what they make. and I
    have never once seen anyone save the increase in their salary” = Well I
    can tell you… You have now met that person!!! For two decades I
    scrimped and saved. I then made more money and I saved even more! I am
    not the norm. I am very frugal. For two decades I asked myself “Do I
    want this or do I need this?” After saving for so long, I finally felt
    somewhat secure. I set goals to save and I hit those targets and
    beyond. Have you ever read “The Millionaire Next Door” – they live well
    below their means. So I finally felt secure. I had my 401k, money in
    the bank, a few years of cash to live on, benefits through work, etc.
    It was “ok” if I lost my job but I didn’t just lose my job, I lost it
    all, family, home, the life I knew and in the end, I had some $ left but
    I didn’t care. I was just trying to keep myself waking up every day.
    The money meant nothing… and then you know what I did when I started
    to emerge from the darkness?? I decided to not touch the money I had
    b/c I needed it to get a roof over my head but I needed a little extra
    cash to get me by without touching what I had left. I somehow stumbled
    upon daytrading and used a little bit of $$… (I know kind of ironic).
    I hadn’t gambled in 2 decades, I didn’t feel I was gambling!!! So many
    “free” chatrooms and people you see trading that are doing well, make
    you believe it is easy. I certainly did not want to pay for a chatroom
    lol. No one tells you that only a “VERY” small percentage make it in
    daytrading or swing trading. It doesn’t feel like real money. So I
    gave myself a certain amount of time to turn things around. I was going
    to stop trading. Enough with the losses but yet I knew I had some good
    trades and when everything lined up, it “was” easy. So people
    persuaded me to keep trying and I fought it and then I said, ok I kept
    trying… reluctantly until I didn’t realize the money was gone. 50%
    gone, I was freaking out, I had to get it back, 75% gone, (really
    freaking out), anxiety attacks all that. I was a better trader, I
    learned so much, I certainly could get it back now and thought this must
    be tuition. It wasn’t until I lost 90% and took one huge loss that I
    realized what the heck I had done. It really was gone. It was now real
    to me. Now I’m sitting here still trying to figure out what I can do
    but yet I will be starting a temp job in a few weeks, where I will work
    my ass off and will get a guaranteed paycheck, until they decide they
    don’t need me anymore. I read how you lost $15 million. I don’t know
    that I could ever recover from that. My total loss in the markets is
    beyond my comprehension but it is well below that, however it is above 6
    figures and then some. So I read this today and I say to myself… I
    can do it. I can do something on my own yet I feel I lost that chance
    and I need the money to come in and be steady, so I am torn between a
    job with a guaranteed check coming to me every week and trying to create
    a service for others, that will create a new life for me. Anyway,
    thanks for your post today. I will read and re-read it. I may try this
    job out anyway but, in the end, I know I can do something else. It’s odd that I tried the trading b/c I like security. In the end, I have nothing but myself and what I have to offer.

  • Michael Price

    I am doing this very thing. I am writing what I hope to be a best selling novel. Actually an entire series of novels. I have two others on the back burners in case this one fails somehow. I know how you feel and you are right. Thanks for this and I will let others know the same. These words will be a light in their dark tunnel.

  • Abhi

    Very very well-written. Got to read it at just the right time. :)

  • wizardofx

    Koyaanisqatsi !!

  • Pooja

    This just validated my thoughts to a far greater extent than I had imagined. And God only knows how badly I needed it. I am 22, undergrad in biotech looking to get into fashion management. surprise! confused thinking.
    My only question is, there are only so many things to do so how to find ‘your thing’? Just like there are soo many people working at the same job with the same title doing the same thing and since it is a conventional setup and presently they are required, things are going on. But leaving this conventional setup behind looking out for your forte, that is being done and re-done and over done everywhere around, how do you help yourself from not getting lost in that massive wave of individual exploration by everyone. How do you stand out?
    I just want to read and travel the world and just explore but I dont know where to begin! I do have some sort of a fashion blog going but no job and no money coming in. So, I feel like I am bound to take up a masters course and get something that pays and after that decide how to drift away from that? Is that my only reasonable path to take?
    Thanks James.

  • Cantaro

    Six months ago I quit my job to write a novel and now I’m opening my own business. Novel is still in the works and I’m scared shitless, I say, shitless! But working for an asshole that doesn’t appreciate your hard work is not worth it. Carpe diem!

  • David

    Brilliant! Timely. Much needed. Much appreciated.

  • Bakul Kaushik

    Good Evening Everybody!

    I am thankful to all the people who posted their views and to the author..

    After reading this article and reading almost all comments, I have to say I am brain-washed.

    Summary : pursuit the happiness and rest will come along…

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  • http://www.berncomedia.com/ iGoByDoc

    Hot damn, I love this post. Was turned on to this by Chris Brogam on his podcast you were on today.

    I think I may have found a new favorite blog.

    I heard myself in a lot of your post, and in your interview today. Love the concept of Choose Yourself.

    Looking forward to reading more of your articles @jaltucher:disqus


  • http://www.facebook.com/mcarden86 Melissa D Carden

    I think I love you, James Altucher.

  • nofuntown

    I realize now that I need to read this article as part of my daily practice

  • Julie

    So, because the women, in your opinion, is better looking than she was before, that means her life is now more worthwhile? That is a misogynistic view.

    • dabney_c

      Is that what you took from this? Good grief.

  • Huang

    Hi James, I believe you. Im your big fan. But I don’t get the part that 10 million compounded at 2% for 200 yrs is a trillion. Is it a typo, or did I calc wrong? Thank you.

  • Claudia

    I just read this, and truly, much of it I could have written myself…only I’m still in a prison of a job. However, I’ve been having all of these thoughts, and have a “5 year plan” which feels too long after reading this. Brilliant writing and thinking! Love it.

  • Betsy

    This is great! I quit my job and the world went right on and I am much better for it. Thanks for the clarity of the benefits!

  • Jonathan houser

    What a wonderfully sobering smack in the face. Thank you!

  • electrikkiss.com

    I fu@@ing LOVE this article!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/pesci.jeff.gray Jeff Gray

    I don’t know if it’s been mentioned in the previous comments ever, but the movie THX-1138 does not end at all like you claim in this article. He reaches above ground and it’s sunny and he sees birds. That’s all there is; no resolution only freedom.

    I do believe you mixed up the ending of Logan’s Run with this film. There the city is fascinated with someone well aged and they warmly receive him.

  • Guest

    Why should I be inspired by someone who would ever “play games all day”? 10M at 3
    2% would make half a trillion. Even the S&P has made about 11%. Why didn’t they invest better?

  • http://sportingnerds.com Sco Jo

    Why should I take inspiration from someone who would ever “play games all day”? And 10M at 2% would make just over half a trillion. Even the S&P has made 11% year. Why did they invest so poorly? I think there are some truths here, but a lot of this is VERY specific to one person’s experience.

  • I am a girl


  • erin

    This needs a LOT of proofreading.

  • Mike T Smith

    Great article James. It’s an eye opener.

  • AMG

    I read this at the start of year from a link on a Facebook page and honestly wondered what the hell the article was about and what drugs the writer was on.

    Four weeks ago I handed in my resignation at my corporate job and now looking at work that doesn’t speak about “career progression” and “dynamic growth”.

    I’m looking at jobs that will allow me to do the things I enjoy.

    We finished our lease in an expensive part of Melbourne, we’ve moved out furhter and we’ve cut out the things in our life we no longer need.

    If My girlfriend taught me anything (and she has taught me a lot over the years), it’s that if you work hard enough for the things you want, you will achieve them and be fufilled in life.

    Her home business has grown so much since she first started, it has allowed her to quit her day job, being screamed at people via Civic Compliance.

  • powdertoastman1@yahoo.com

    Wow! It’s like you looked into my life and my day and spoke to me! Thank you!

  • http://twitter.com/workingnomad Working Nomad

    I don’t agree with number 2. People will always need people.

  • Jose

    Interesting article, I would like to do what you propose, but before I embark myself in this expedition, I would like to know if you have any recommendation for a step by step approach.

  • Gaddzo


  • Jeff Grotke

    i say hunt down the family with a trillion dollars and take it from them.

  • Erika Lee

    I am like that woman from your work you ran into. I was on mega drugs just to keep myself from having panic attacks at work. Now I’ve lost 30lbs, feel fantastic and have somehow managed to make it work. The system is definitely broken. Great article.

  • http://eric-cole.com Eric Cole

    My mom, no wait, most of my family, should read this article. They think I’m crazy. Of course, there are many advantages to being the crazy uncle. Took a few decades to get it but … Happiness First!

  • Jillian Pierone

    Seize every opportunity you are suited for It makes life so much better.
    ps. If it makes you feel like crap, its not much of an opportunity.

  • Akhilesh

    Thanks for the article. Reading this, has been reading own career. Especially those last two paras. Man those are really, otherwise inspiring.

  • http://www.audio-epics.com Eline Hoskens

    I just proved my own point that people DO read lengthy articles online, as long as they’re interesting.

  • http://www.pleaseyourselffirst.com Sara Young

    I know that many people can say this, but a pic of Leia as Jabba’s prisoner makes me feel like you are telling ME to quit MY JOB this year. So, that is my new goal. Thanks, homie.

  • DiskusSux

    It’s an exciting time to be alive.
    Here I am at 46; a long string of shitty jobs I hated behind me. No real prospects for a better job. NO job I ever worked valued me. Working for Da Man has always sucked for me. Now just getting Da Man to hire me is becoming difficult; age discrimination is real.
    Now events are bulldozing me out of the shit-job heap. I have no choice but to be my own master; no one will take me for a wage slave. How’s that for a kick to the ol’ ego? Not worth enslaving…
    I think I’ll like this new era. I never fit in the old one, and I hated it. I expect I’ll have to hustle, and likely have 4-6 small businesses or jobs. But better I do what I like than suffer chained to a stupid PC, with a boss pissing down my neck and telling me it’s just leaky plumbing in the overhead.
    I can do this.

  • Jack

    This really doesn’t hold true for a LOT of jobs. I’m sorry to be blunt but this article makes incredibly vague generalizations about all forms of work. Also, to describe Entre/intra-preneurship as the be-all-end-all savior for “middle-class” employees is overly simplistic

  • http://www.ACleanDream.webs.com/ Luna

    I used to sit in for the director of my department at a very large medical facility when she could not make it on rare occasion to the weekly meeting with the CEO and all the other corporate-level management people who’d been in the company for years. I was shocked to experience the unprofessional cursing and yelling at people when things did not sit well with this CEO (an ex-military guy). As time went on I saw that this behavior was par for the course during these meetings and did not understand why in the world these intelligent, accomplished people stood for this behavior in front of their colleagues. Most of these individuals were decent people. Perhaps I am naive and this goes on more than I was aware, but NO paycheck is worth any of that.

    I’ve experienced hating jobs and feeling chained to them (the big signal for me was pulling the car into the parking lot and dreading getting out of the car). I am in a place now where I am working for myself part-time and have great flexibility with my other p/t paycheck job. It is a great place to be. I will def print this article for my son (3 years old now).

  • TheWild Webster

    If it weren’t for the nature of the underlying premise of this article, I would tear it a new one. Wow dude, you really need to stop smoking the socialist anti-industrial whacky weed. But at least you have the right conclusion even if your premises are overly burdened with corpo-hate: If you don’t like your situation, improve it.
    You almost get there many times – such as when you say in regards to the ‘dead weight’ jobs, that ‘maybe they were never needed’. Yet if they were dead weight jobs and never needed in the first place, then why is it evil when corporate heads finally are able to get rid of them – bad economy or not?
    You have the article full of many slave-like images, I assume implying that workers are slaves. Yet your attitude in regards to the corporations is that they should be slaves to us as an alternative – they should provide jobs that ‘might not even be needed’ just to support a desire of the employees to pursue a ‘middle class’ lifestyle that they’ve been convinced is something they should want.

    Pick one, either slavery is bad or it is not. Transferring it doesn’t make it better.

    But alas, as I already conceded, you came to the right conclusion – if you don’t like your own condition, you have the power to change it. If you don’t like corporations, you have the power to be your own boss, to quit, to change jobs, etc.

  • Janey Egerton

    I have to break free! Working like crazy for these piece-of-shit managers, day after day walking past their Porsches on the car park, while they say they’re a super company because they have this scheme where they lease bicycles to their employees. Of course, because their engineers, after years doing Master’s and PhD’s and years collecting industry experience get paid less than the wankers in PR and HR that have at most a BA. Because the wages are so low that their 35-year-old fully qualified professionals have to live in shared houses like students, and they say that the wages are low but that we should cherish the shares. And when every year the value of the shares plummets once again, all they’ve got to say’s: “Don’t worry. Those people in the City have no idea. What do we care if our shares are worth less than toilet paper? We’re selling our stuff like crazy?” Of course, why would Sir CEO care? He’s rich, he can afford private healthcare and can brag at the Xmas party that he gets invited to dine with the PM and the Queen, while his engineers work unpaid overtime. I’M GONNA HAFTA KILL MYSELF TO BREAK FREE! Because I was not born rich and all I’ve got to offer is my PhD and my more than 50 publications in science journals, and the university didn’t want to have me because that’s another place that doesn’t value talent and hard work! RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAANT!

  • Vallin SFAS

    Same theme I’ve had for 40 years (see photo at left):

  • Brianna Aubin

    What if you actually like your job? The stuff I do for a living is actually pretty cool and is definitely not going to be outsourced anytime soon.

    • Michael

      Obviously if you actually like your job, then this article isn’t directed at you. Unfortunately, most people don’t like their jobs.

  • happyworker

    Millions of couples are doing such jobs and are very happy. Go to sleep daily happily. Raise good kids. So the author can suck it.