The Voluntary Life

15 April 2015

Special Announcement: Seeking Beta Readers For "Four Ways To Quit The Rat Race" (My New Book)


I welcome feedback from anyone who would like to be a beta-reader for my new book “Four Ways To Quit The Rat Race: Choose Your Own Path To Freedom, Independence And The Life You Want”. I'll acknowledge everyone who provides feedback in the book and give you a free copy of the final version too.
If you’d like to hear more about the subject of this book, here is a presentation I gave about it (this was also in a previous episode of TVL):


A huge amount of additional research has gone into this book. I generated 500 pages of background notes! The book contains excerpts from 15 original in-depth interviews with people who have quit the rat race, as well as data from 34 books and 15 websites. However, I’ve kept the final text short (just 160 pages) and made sure it is easy to read.

I'd love to get your feedback. I appreciate you helping me make the book the best that it can be. You can hear about how the influence that beta readers had on my last book Becoming An Entrepreneur in TVL Episode 150.

Sign up to become a beta reader and get your advance copy here: http://goo.gl/forms/WwF4WpwVk1

Listen to the special announcement about my new book (5 mins)

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)


27 December 2014

187 How To Read More Than 50 Books A Year: Discussion With Hannah Braime

This week's show is a discussion with my lovely wife Hannah Braime about how to read more than 50 books per year (Hannah reads over 100 per year!). Hannah is a life coach and the host of the website Becoming Who You Are. In the episode we talk about why reading matters and share all the hacks we know for getting more reading done.

Show Notes:



21 December 2014

186 Natural Project Planning

As an entrepreneur, I wanted to learn more about the project planning because I needed to delegate and collaborate with others. I now see project planning as integral to getting things done in all areas of life. This episode is my own take on an approach called the natural planning model. These are the three minimal steps I use in planning every project:
  • Naming the outcome
  • Identifying the next action
  • Reviewing each project regularly
If I am stuck on a project, the more detailed planning I do includes:
  • Mindmaps
  • Creating a project documentation template in Evernote
  • Writing down more details about the purpose and mission to clarify this for myself
  • Journaling and brainstorming
  • Identifying project components and milestones
  • Scheduling and programming tasks in a task management app (I use Omnifocus)
Show Notes:
Listen to Episode 186 (20 mins)


12 December 2014

185 How To Set Meaningful Goals For The Year Ahead

For many years I wanted to set meaningful goals for the year ahead, but struggled with the process. I never knew quite where to start and I often felt like I was just making goals up, without any real emotional connection to them. Consequently, I wasn't really committed to my goals and I found the whole process of making annual goals frustrating. I often gave up and didn't bother with the whole thing.

Over time, I've developed a method of setting annual goals as part of my overall productivity systems.  Now that I have a method, I find setting and meeting goals much easier and, best of all, the goal-setting process has many other benefits, regardless of whether I meet a goal. In this episode I explain my method of goal setting. Here is a very short overview of the steps:

  1. Divide up your life into all your Areas Of Responsibility. I have 15 of them with names like Finances, Health, Relationship, Friends, Writing, Podcasting etc.
  2. Make a page for each Area Of Responsibility. I use Evernote, but use whatever works for you.
  3. On each AOR page, work out what this aspect of your life means to you. I do this using Mindmaps, unstructured journalling, and some structured writing (details are in the podcast).
  4. Add a section to each AOR page where you write down all your specific aims: what you want to change, implement, improve, or enhance about this aspect of your life.  For inspiration, review your vision board for each AOR (If you don't know about vision boards see episode 101 on How To Dream Big).
  5. Put all your list of aims together and read through to get an overview of everything you want from all aspects of your life.
  6. From your list, choose 4 or 5 Big Hairy Audacious Goals for the year ahead—whatever you feel most emotionally committed to.
  7. I also choose some Less Hairy goals for the year ahead too.
  8. Set yourself a reminder to review your list of goals regularly throughout the year (at least quarterly).
  9. Tick off the goals as you reach them. Celebrate reaching your goals. Be supportive to yourself- if you only got to 70% of an original goal at year-end, celebrate the 70% win too.
  10. Rinse and repeat at the end of the year.
Show Notes:
Listen to Episode 185 (17 minutes)



7 December 2014

184 Becoming An Entrepreneur: Introduction

This week's episode is an excerpt from the audiobook edition of Becoming an Entrepreneur. If you would like to review the audiobook, get in touch and I will be happy to send you a code to download a review copy from Audible.

If you prefer reading, you can get the ebook and paperback editions on Amazon. The paperback edition is the perfect christmas gift to encourage your friends to become entrepreneurs!

Show Notes:
Listen to Episode 184


29 November 2014

183 Financial Independence Part 3: Buy Status Symbols or Buy Your Freedom

This episode is about the main barrier to financial independence: consuming for status instead of investing for wealth. You have a choice: you can either buy status symbols or your can buy financial freedom, but not both. Topics covered in the episode include:

  • Why everything you think about "the rich" is probably wrong
  • How most high income people blow their chance at financial independence
  • How you can buy financial freedom instead of getting caught in the culture of capital consumption

Show Notes:

Listen to Episode 183



24 November 2014

182 Financial Independence Part 2: Make, Save, Invest


There are many different routes to financial independence. In past episodes I've interviewed people who have achieved financial independence through extreme saving as a salaried employee. My own route was through entrepreneurship—growing and selling a business. Whichever route you take, you need a strategy to address common challenges. There are three core questions that your plan needs to address:

  • How do you plan to make good money? 
  • How do you plan to save a huge amount of what you make?
  • How do you plan to invest what you have saved? 

In this episode I suggest important things to consider for each of these three components of your plan. As always with money topics, you will need to do your own research. I'm not a financial advisor.

Show Notes



Listen to Episode 182


17 November 2014

181 Financial Independence Part 1: What You Need To Know About Your Money


Understanding your personal finances is crucial if you want to achieve financial independence and gain more freedom in your life. Most people don't learn anything useful about personal finances growing up and are not taught about it in school (I certainly wasn't). It took me a long time to work out what I really need to know about my personal finances. I hope that by sharing what I've learned, I can help you acquire financial literacy faster than I did.  This podcast episode covers the three most important things that you need to get in place immediately:
  • Tracking and categorising of all your expenditure and income
  • Calculating and tracking your net worth
  • Using a budget to stay on track with your financial goals
In the episode I provide an overview of these three topics and explain how you can use personal finance software to help automate the process of tracking them.  As always, you are responsible for your money and you will need to do your own research. I am not a financial advisor.

Show Notes:



Listen to Episode 181


8 November 2014

180 A Fearless Inventory Of Your Stuff


We're selling our apartment, selling all our stuff, and leaving England behind to travel the world indefinitely. Really. This means taking minimalism to the next level, since we'll only take with us those few possessions that will fit into two bags that we can fly with. To help with the task of getting rid of so much, I've created an inventory of everything that I own. This is a useful tool that I first heard about from the blog Man Vs Debt and read about in Your Money or Your Life.

I'm convinced that making an inventory of all your stuff can benefit everyone, not just those who plan to sell it all as we do. In this podcast episode, I explain some of the advantages of making an inventory of your stuff. An inventory can help you-

  • get an overview of what you own (most people have lost track of all the stuff they have accumulated)
  • identify the value of your possessions, as part of calculating your net worth.
  • develop a more conscious ownership of your stuff, so that you can get rid of all the clutter that you are not using.
  • make money by selling what you don't need.

I used a dedicated application called Home Inventory to create my inventory. In the podcast I suggest some of the useful things you can do if you use a database or dedicated inventory app.

Show Notes:

Photo: Everything must go. All my stuff, boxed up in 2011 (the last time I moved). 

2 November 2014

179 Automation FTW

Everyone knows that to succeed as an entrepreneur (and just to be productive) you have to learn to delegate. However, in this episode I make the case for why it's preferable to automate a task rather than delegate it, when possible. I provide some examples of how I use automation to help my own productivity, such as:


I also provide links to some resources that I use for learning about automation:


Show Notes:
Episode 108: Three Ways To Delegate

Listen To Episode 179