The Voluntary Life

6 July 2015

212 How To Think For Yourself Part 2: Science And Rationality


Last week I suggested two key challenges to resolve if you want to think for yourself:

  1. How do you tell truth from falsehood? 
  2. How do you know what you can be certain of? 

This episode is about how the scientific method can help address the first of these challenges: determining truth. I provide a summary of the philosophy of science and the rules for deciding whether a theory qualifies as scientific.

However, there is a huge problem with the philosophy of science when it comes to addressing the challenge of certainty. The scientific method—as defined by leading philosophers of science—is self-contradictory. It's not even an accurate representation of what practicing scientists do (which is why scientists tend to ignore philosophers and just get on with it). In the episode, I explain how rationality is the necessary foundation of science—more fundamental even than empiricism—and how it provides the certainty that makes the scientific method possible.

Show Notes:


Listen to Episode 212


30 June 2015

211 How To Think For Yourself Part 1: Introduction To Truth And Certainty


You can't be free unless you can think for yourself. If someone else is doing your thinking for you, then it's not your life that you are living.

When you know how to think of yourself, you cannot be controlled or manipulated. Your life is truly in your hands and is up to you what you do with it.

This episode is part one of a new series on how to think for yourself. This episode introduces the two biggest problems you have to overcome if you want to think for yourself:

  1. How can you tell truth from falsehood? 
  2. How do you know what you can be certain of? 

Listen to Episode 211 (10 mins)


21 June 2015

210 Tax Strategies And Financial Freedom Part 2 (Interview With Joshua Sheats)


This week's episode is part two of an interview with Joshua Sheats, host of the Radical Personal Finance podcast. Joshua shares his insights on tax strategies for those pursuing financial freedom. In part one of the interview (last week's episode), we covered tax strategies for employees. In this episode, we discuss tax strategies for entrepreneurs. Joshua describes his own experience developing a lifestyle business and the tax advantages that this provides.

Show Notes:
  • Radical Personal Finance Podcast
  • As always, it's up to you what you do with your money. I'm not a financial advisor and you will need to do your own research.
Listen To Episode 210 (30 mins)


14 June 2015

209 Tax Strategies And Financial Freedom Part 1 (Interview With Joshua Sheats)

Tax is the biggest expense category for most people. It is crucial for everyone interested in financial freedom to understand tax and develop a tax strategy. Yet many of the leading books on financial independence hardly mention tax. In this interview, Joshua Sheats provides a wealth of insights on this topic.

Joshua trained as a financial planner and now runs the Radical Personal Finance podcast. In part one of the interview (this episode), Joshua discusses tax strategies for employees. In part two (next week), we discuss tax strategies for entrepreneurs.

Show Notes:
Listen To Episode 209 (41 mins)


9 June 2015

208 Creating Purpose, Structure, And Community Outside A Job


If you want to quit your job to pursue a more freedom-oriented lifestyle (such as entrepreneurship), there are many challenges to overcome. Some challenges are practical, such as replacing the job income that you no longer have. This episode is about the psychological challenges. Even an unfulfilling job has a psychological "pull" that is easy to take for granted because it provides:

  • A sense of purpose 
  • Structure for your life 
  • A ready-made community 

Part of the fear that many people feel about quitting their jobs relates to losing the sense of purpose, structure, and community that comes from a job. To live job-free, you have to create your own sense of purpose, your own structure for life, and your own community. You can hear more about this topic in the podcast episode.

Show Notes:


Listen to Episode 208 (12 mins)


2 June 2015

207 Who Will Buy Your Business?


If you are an entrepreneur, you might want to sell your business one day (or at least have that option). There are many issues to tackle in order to make selling a real possibility. For one thing, you need to identify a potential buyer.

This podcast episode provides an overview of the two main groups of potential buyers: strategic and financial. I suggest some issues to consider when looking for each kind of buyer and I explain why I would always prefer a strategic buyer.

Show Notes:
Finish Big: How Great Entrepreneurs Exit Their Companies on Top by Bo Burlingham

Listen to Episode 207 (15 mins)

24 May 2015

206 Luck In Business


Are successful entrepreneurs just "lucky"? This episode is about the role of luck in business. Here are some of the ideas discussed:
  • The main job of the entrepreneur is to minimise chance and uncertainty. "Luck" is not the basis of success, it is the enemy. 
  • People confuse the success or failure of a business idea with the success or failure of an entrepreneur's career—they are not the same thing. Successful entrepreneurs have many failures behind them. 
  • A business is not static. It is not a matter of chance whether it succeeds or fails. You can adapt and change everything about your business as you go, and thereby improve your chance of success with every step. 
  • There will always be influences that are entirely outside your control. But even those things outside your control can be managed and adapted to. 














Photo Credit: andyburnfield

17 May 2015

205 The Most Powerful Planning Tool I Know


This episode is about the most powerful tool that I know for planning anything. A process map is a tool for visualising a workflow. It's also called a workflow map or a network diagram—there are many different names for this tool.

It's a way of clarifying exactly what has to happen to in order for you to get all the way from where you are now, to your final goal. The map shows the dependencies between all inputs, processes, and outputs. This identifies the logic of all the work ahead of you.

You don't need to be involved in project management to benefit from creating workflow maps. Visualising your workflows can help you achieve your goals in any aspect of life. However, a workflow diagram is also the basis of many useful project management tools, like a PERT Chart or Gantt chart. If you want to get more into project management, you can use this tool to identify the critical path and critical chain.

Show Notes:
Listen To Episode 205 (19 mins)


10 May 2015

204 Making Sense Of Frugality And Minimalism


This episode is about making sense of two important concepts: frugality and minimalism. Frugality means to be economical or sparing with regard to money, but this definition prompts the question: what are the criteria for deciding if a choice is economical?  Similarly, the definition of minimalism (to own the minimum amount of possessions) also prompts a question: what are the criteria for deciding what the minimum is?

Both these ideas only make sense if they are defined in relation to your goals and purpose in life. Using examples from entrepreneurship, I suggest ways to define frugality and minimalism in relation to your goals.

Show Notes:
Listen To Episode 204 (24 mins)



3 May 2015

203 Early Retirement And Housesitting: Interview With Sarah Burch

In this interview, Sarah tells her early retirement story and talks about life after quitting the rat race. We discuss why she has chosen housesitting both as a lifestyle choice and as a great financial benefit. She discusses the pros and cons of housesitting and provides some advice for people thinking about making the jump to early retirement.

Show Notes:
Listen to Episode 203



26 April 2015

202 Self-Deception


In this episode, I share two theories from social psychology about why we sometimes lie to ourselves and fool ourselves, as well as suggestions for overcoming these tendencies. I describe some of my own approaches to overcoming self-deception by getting objective data about my life.  In order to gain self-knowledge, you have to reduce the gap between what you think about yourself and reality. Although this is often an uncomfortable process, the truth is always liberating.

Show Notes

Listen to Episode 202 (20 minutes) 

7 April 2015

201 Tools And Systems for Independent Learning


In this week's episode I'm sharing my own tools and systems for independent learning. These are the hacks that I use to be proactive about independent learning, rather than being an uncritical consumer of ideas. Topics covered include:

  • Making objectives for your learning and capturing them in Evernote
  • Coping with the information firehose
  • Filtering your search for learning materials using reading lists and subject tagging in Pocket app.
  • Capturing learning resources in databases using apps like Calibre and Evernote
  • Effective note taking with mind maps, highlights and written notes
  • Critical thinking
  • Habits to support learning
  • Automating parts of your learning system

Show Notes:



Listen to Episode 201 (23 mins)


30 March 2015

200 Quantified Self


This episode is about the growing use of technology to automatically collect and analyse data about your life. I share some examples of my own automated tracking of health and productivity data. I'm using various apps to analyse the data in the background and compile all the results into an automated, objective journal. It's getting easier all the time to quantify your life with minimal effort.  Doing so can give you objective data and meaningful analysis about whatever matters to you. This can help you to live a more conscious and fulfilled life.

Show Notes:

Listen to Episode 200 (17m)


23 March 2015

199 Car Free


Is owning a car really worth it? This episode is about the financial and lifestyle benefits of deliberately choosing not to own a car (I'm in my early 40s and I've never owned one). Topics covered include:

  • Why owning a car is often a waste of money
  • The health and lifestyle benefits of living car free, especially walking and cycling
  • Alternatives to car ownership including car clubs, peer-to-peer transport (e.g. Uber and Lyft), public transport
  • The problem of car dependency and why it exists
  • Challenges of not owning a car
  • Suggestions for how to live car free

Show Notes:


15 March 2015

198 Removing Trivial Decisions From Life

We are all subject to a psychological process called decision fatigue: every choice you make depletes your willpower and lowers your ability to self-regulate. This is true for trivial decisions as well as life changing ones. By designing trivial decisions out of your life, you can retain decision making capability for the things that really matter to you. In this episode I share some of my own experiences with avoiding decision fatigue and explain why I think minimalism is a great way to help you focus on the things that really matter.

Show Notes:
Listen to Episode 198 (12 mins)


8 March 2015

197 Resisting Conformity: A Discussion With Brett Veinotte


Brett Veinotte is an educator and host of School Sucks Podcast. This week I had an interesting discussion with Brett about the power of conformity and how to resist it. Topics covered include:
  • How conformity to "normal" spending habits prevents people achieving financial independence 
  • Solomon Asch's conformity experiments and what we can learn from them 
  • How conformity can alter your perception 
  • The importance of allies in resisting conformity 
  • The role of privacy in reducing conformity 
  • The danger of conforming to a subculture (and still being a conformist) 
  • How exposure to different views can increase your independence of thought 
Show Notes:

Listen To Episode 197




1 March 2015

196 Self Knowledge and Entrepreneurship: Interview With Hannah Braime


In this episode, I interview life coach and author Hannah Braime (my lovely wife) about the relationship between self knowledge and entrepreneurship. Hannah is the host of the personal development website Becoming Who You Are. As a coach she helps people to develop their self knowledge and live a more authentic, fulfilling life. She is the organiser of an upcoming online symposium,  The Entrepreneur's Inner World. Topics we cover include:
  • The role of self knowledge in entrepreneurship
  • Key themes that came up when Hannah interviewed 24 entrepreneurs
  • The benefits of entrepreneurship for personal growth

Show Notes
Listen to Episode 196 (50 mins)




22 February 2015

195 Technomadia Interview


Cherie & Chris live on a converted vintage bus that they have packed with technology. They call themselves technomads (technology-enabled nomads). The bus has a solar electric system, lithium ion batteries, a mobile internet setup, and lots of other fun gadgets. Cherie & Chris work online whilst travelling and visiting new places. In this interview they share their inspiring story, including both the highlights and the downsides of life on the road.

Show Notes
Technomadia Website

Listen to Episode 195 (37 mins)




15 February 2015

194 Your Money Or Your Life by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez

This week's episode is a review of the classic personal finance book Your Money or Your Life. Topics covered include:

  • The inspiring story of the author Joe Dominguez—an early retiree who devoted his life to promoting financial independence for everyone
  • An overview of the 9 steps to financial independence suggested in the book
  • Strengths of the book, especially its focus on actionable steps that you can take to change your life
  • Weaknesses of the book, especially regarding the discussion of investment.

Show Notes:
Listen to Episode 194 (21 mins)


8 February 2015

193 Cashing In On The American Dream By Paul Terhorst

This episode is a review of the book Cashing in on the American Dream: How to Retire at 35 by Paul Terhorst. Paul and his wife Vicky have been living the early retirement lifestyle successfully for the last 30 years, as perpetual travellers. This book was written back in the 1980s and was one of the first books to suggest a strategy for financial independence.

The book is aimed towards employees (rather than entrepreneurs) and especially people in well-paid jobs. Paul discusses how to tackle the challenges of quitting a lucrative career and radically changing your lifestyle. His strategy is an early example of the extreme saving approach that I discussed in my presentation on four ways to quit the rat race.

The investment suggestions in the book are out of date now and all the numbers have to be doubled for inflation, however it still contains a lot of useful ideas that will be of interest to anyone aiming for financial independence.

Show Notes

2 February 2015

192 TV Is Obsolete: How To Upgrade Your Media Diet



I got rid of my TV about 15 years ago and I have never regretted it. In this episode, I provide suggestions for how to upgrade your media diet using far better sources than broadcast media. Here's a summary of the system that I adopted for my media diet:
  • I got rid of my TV (and radio and newspapers too). I did this because vegging out in from of the TV was an addictive path of least resistance for media consumption. I didn't want my choice of what to watch to be limited to what TV channels would broadcast.
  • I actively collect things to watch later from the internet, from streaming services and social media. Everything goes into my media queue. This is very easy to do with capture tools like pocket, instapaper, WatchLater app and Evernote.  I also collect things to listen to later and read later in the same way.
  • I tag everything in my media queue with my own tags, so that I know why I have collected each media item. These tags allow me to organise my media queue by projects I am doing, topics I am interesed in, or just different moods I am in.
  • When I want to watch something, I look at my tag lists and make a conscious decision about what to watch. 
  • Having a media queue helps me be more discerning about what media I consume. I end up deleting many of the videos before watching them because they don't seem interesting after all. I highly recommend trying life without a TV.
Show Notes:
Listen To Episode 192 (20 mins)


26 January 2015

191 Task Management


Whatever you want to get done in life, a task management app is the most valuable productivity tool that I can recommend to help you. In this episode, I explain what a task management app is and outline why it is so useful. I provide examples of how I use a task management app to help reach my goals, as well as some tips for power users. Topics covered include:

  • Origins of task management apps and some current examples
  • The benefits of a task management app over simple "to do" lists.
  • The inefficiency of switching tasks and the value of focussed work
  • How to use an app to create well-defined tasks that are easier to complete
  • The power of filtering your commitments by context
  • The value of checklists and how a task manager can store them
  • creating your own "perspectives" on tasks
  • The most valuable feature to look for in a task management app: filtering by availability

Show Notes:




Listen to Episode 191 (22 mins)


19 January 2015

190 Out Of The Box Interview: Minimalism, Financial Freedom, And More! With Rosie Tran

Comedian Rosie Tran interviews entrepreneur, financial freedom advocate, and author of Becoming an Entrepreneur, Jake Desyllas. They discuss the psychology behind financial freedom and the baggage that many people have associated with money, the importance of being on the same page as your significant other, and why less is always more! Great tips on breaking out of the employee mindset and becoming a free thinker!

Show Notes:
Out Of The Box Podcast

Listen to Episode 190


11 January 2015

189 Envy: A Theory Of Social Behaviour By Helmut Schoek

Why are "haters gonna hate"? This episode is a review of a fascinating book called Envy: A Theory of Social Behaviour by Helmut Schoek. Here are some of ideas that are discussed in the review:
  • What envy is and how it differs from jealousy or a desire to emulate
  • The key feature of envy being strongest where status differences are small 
  • Why envy exists in every society and why it could never be completely eliminated
  • Why envy is camouflaged 
  • The link between envy and irrational thinking
  • Schoeck's theory of why envy exists and how it might have some positive role (as well as being highly destructive)
  • You can cure yourself of envious feelings by turning it into creativity instead of destructiveness
  • Why you must never let haters stop you from doing something wonderful
Show Notes:
Envy: A Theory Of Social Behaviour By Helmut Schoeck

Listen To Episode 189 (23m)