The Voluntary Life

31 January 2016

235 A Better World Starts With A Clean Bedroom (School Sucks Interview)

In this week's episode, Brett Veinotte from the School Sucks Podcast and Jake Desyllas from The Voluntary Life discuss the process of upgrading and maintaining positive habits. Topic covered include:

  • Habits may seem trivial, but the are the most important part of a productivity system
  • Two approaches to change: slow and steady vs. New Year's resolution
  • Triggers for activating habits vs. friction against habits
  • How do we do it? morning routine, 7 Weeks (Android app), Jake uses Way of Life (iOS)
  • No matter what else is going on, do the simple things; even though these seemingly minor habits are the first thing that fall by the wayside when we're really busy
  • Jake: "Habits dramatically reduce the amount of willpower and brainpower required to get things done. Once you have implemented a habit and can do it on autopilot, you conserve willpower and brainpower, helping you get more done."
  • Willpower is a scarce resource; it degrades decision to decision
  • Identifying resources beyond willpower
  • Jake: "Habits are easiest to adopt when they are simple to understand, when you minimize any friction at the start of the action, when there are clear environmental triggers that tell your unconscious to start the habit, and when you have feedback (rewards) for completion."
Show Notes:




26 January 2016

234 Radical Personal Finance Interview— Job Free


This week's episode comes from Joshua Sheats, host of the Radical Personal Finance podcast:

"Most of us in the Radical Personal Finance community are pursuing our own financial independence. And most of us want to get there as quickly as possible. But, most of us only have one idea of one way to get there. Did you know there are a bunch of different ways to go job-free and gain financial freedom? I'm excited to bring you my interview with Jake Desyllas, author of "Job Free: Four Ways to Quit the Rat Race and Achieve Financial Freedom on Your Terms.""

Show Notes:
Job Free by Jake Desyllas
Radical Personal Finance Podcast


Listen to Episode 234


18 January 2016

233 The Next Level — Horizons of Focus Part 2 (School Sucks Interview)


This episode is Part 2 of the discussion between Brett Veinotte and Jake Desyllas about using Horizons of Focus for productivity and purpose. In this episode, we conclude our discussion by talking about how to identify your vision for your future, and how to find purpose in life.

Show Notes:


13 January 2016

232 The Next Level — Horizons of Focus Part 1 (School Sucks Interview)

Brett Veinotte from School Sucks podcast interviews Jake Desyllas about using Horizons of Focus for productivity and purpose. In this episode (part 1) we introduce the concept of horizons of focus and talk about the best ways to identify actions, projects, goals, and areas or responsibility.

Show Notes


28 December 2015

231 Liberty Entrepreneurs Interview: Financial Freedom and Exiting the Rat Race


I was recently interviewed by Ashe from the Liberty Entrepreneurs podcast about starting a business, selling a business, and financial independence.  We talked about my background, becoming an entrepreneur, selling a company, and life afterwards. In this episode, you can hear about the people and books that have influenced me, and some hacks and suggestions for anyone interested in starting a business.

Show Notes:

16 December 2015

230 How I Crowdsourced Feedback on my New Book, "Job Free"


My new book,  Job Free: Four Ways to Quit the Rat Race and Achieve Financial Freedom on Your Termsis now available. I had an amazing experience getting feedback during the writing of this book. 165 people agreed to be beta readers during development. I received edited versions of the manuscript (with detailed comments) back from 85 people. That's a lot of feedback!

This episode is about the process of crowdsourcing feedback, using the example of my experience writing Job Free. I describe the workflows, tools and benefits of crowdsourcing feedback. I also tell you all about my new book, and explain how it can help you achieve real freedom in your own life.

Show Notes:

Listen to Episode 230


12 December 2015

229 Travel and Life on Bitcoin: Interview with Tuur and Becca

In this episode, Tuur and Becca talk about life as perpetual travellers, living on bitcoin. They describe how they got interested in bitcoin and how it has become an integral part of their international lifestyle. They also explain how they cope with the roller-coaster volatility of living from bitcoin.

Tuur was one of the first investment newsletter writers to recommend bitcoin.  He describes his own journey in the industry, and shares his thoughts about where bitcoin is headed.

Show Notes:


Listen to Episode 229


30 November 2015

228 Making Sense Of Civilization


This episode shares some fascinating ideas about how to understand culture, identity and civilization. The historian Steve Davies argues that rather than being at the end of a long story of "western civilization", we are at the beginning of something radically new, unplanned and totally alien to the historical cultures of both the "West" and everywhere else before circa 1800. I've summarised these ideas in the podcast, but I also recommend that you watch the thought-provoking lecture by Steve Davies.

Show Notes:
Stephen Davies on Western Civilisation
The Rational Optimist by Matt Ridley

Listen to Episode 228



16 November 2015

227 Review Of The Better Angels Of Our Nature By Steven Pinker


This episode is a review of a fascinating book, The Better Angels Of Our Nature, by Steven Pinker. The following quote summarises the book's main argument:

"Believe it or not—and I know that most people do not—violence has declined over long stretches of time, and today we may be living in the most peaceable era in our species’ existence. The decline, to be sure, has not been smooth; it has not brought violence down to zero; and it is not guaranteed to continue. But it is an unmistakable development, visible on scales from millennia to years, from the waging of wars to the spanking of children."
Steven Pinker

Show Notes:

Listen To Episode 227


5 November 2015

226 The Mindset For Financial Independence


This episode is about three concepts that I've found helpful for managing money. These concepts are about the big-picture when it comes to money, rather than the details. I think they express the mindset for achieving financial independence. Here is a summary of the ideas discussed:
  1. Be Your Own CFO: managing your own money as you would manage the finance of a business.
  2. Be Investment-Oriented, Not Consumption-Oriented
  3. Be A Passive Investor. 
I've just set up a Facebook group for TVL listeners. Hope to see you at The Voluntary Life Community on Facebook!

Show Notes:

Listen To Episode 226


26 October 2015

225 Comparative Advantage Is Mind-blowing


This is a short episode to explain a key idea from economics. Comparative advantage is a simple idea, but its implications are mind-blowing when you really get it. It is a process that most people don't understand, but it is at the root of everything that we create. Comparative advantage is intimately linked to what it means to be human.

Show Notes:
Listen to Episode 225


19 October 2015

224 Ancient Vs Modern Ideas Of Liberty


This is a short episode to share an interesting idea from a book by Benjamin Constant called The Liberty of Ancients Compared with that of Moderns. Constant was a French classical liberal writer who lived through the French revolution and the reign of terror. As he thought through what had gone wrong with the revolution, he came up with a distinction between two conflicting ideas of "liberty" that had influenced the people involved- an ancient concept of liberty and a modern one. I think his distinction is still useful today and can help make sense of the incompatible ways in which different people talk about freedom.

Show Notes:



Listen to Episode 224 (9 mins)




5 October 2015

223 A Guide To Passive Investment Portfolios: Interview With Tyler From Portfolio Charts


Portfoliocharts.com is a brilliant, free resource for passive investors. It provides a comparison of all the main passive investment portfolios using funky charts to visually explain the data. The site was created by Tyler, an early retiree with a background in mechanical engineering. Tyler created the site for fun as a personal project, but I think it is the best guide to passive investing portfolios on the web.

In this episode, Tyler gives his own take on passive investing and talks about how to use the portfolio charts site. He explains some interesting results from his analysis and shows how they challenge common myths about portfolios.

Show Notes:



Listen To Episode 223




28 September 2015

222 Early Retirement Lifestyle Part 2 (Interview with Justin From Root Of Good)


This episode is part 2 of the interview with Justin from Root of Good. Justin talks about how the goal of early retirement differs from mainstream ideas of "success". He provides suggestions for those interested in pursing early retirement.

Show Notes:
Root of Good
Jack Ma Interview

Listen to Episode 222


24 September 2015

221 Early Retirement Lifestyle Part 1 (Interview with Justin From Root Of Good)

There are many practical steps required to reach financial independence, which we've discussed a lot on the podcast. However, there are also some interesting psychological challenges to early retirement. Who would you be without your job? What would you do all day if you never had to work? Justin retired at the age of 33. He writes about financial independence at the Root of Good blog. In this interview, he gives his take on the psychological side of financial independence and describes his early-retirement lifestyle.

Show Notes:


Listen To Episode 221


16 September 2015

220 What To Expect From Investing


Many people find getting started as an individual investor daunting.  This podcast episode is about how little I knew about investing when I got started. I describe what I came to expect from investing as I learned more about it. If you are starting out in investing, I think hearing my experience will be relevant for you.

Show Notes


Listen To Episode 220 (10 mins)


4 September 2015

219 How To Do A Monthly Financial Review


It took me a long time to work out how to stay on top of my finances. After a lot of trial and error, I developed the habit of doing a monthly financial review. This is what enables me to confidently manage my finances without having to think about money all the time. In this episode, I explain how you can implement your own monthly financial review. Topics covered include:

  • Habits to set up when implementing a monthly review, including dedicating adequate time (about 4 hours per month) and making a detailed checklist or task list to use.
  • Key questions to consider when designing your monthly financial review system, such as whether to use an online finance app or one that runs on your own computer.
  • Stages of the monthly financial review to implement: downloading finance data, cleaning data, inputting data, reconciling, and analysis (budget, investments, and net worth calculation)

Show Notes


Listen to Episode 219


26 August 2015

218 Choosing A Job-Free Lifestyle


In many previous episodes of this podcast, I've explored different ways to live a job-free lifestyle. I've interviewed extreme savers, unjobbers, lifestyle entrepreneurs, and startup entrepreneurs. Many listeners have raised an important question about these lifestyles: how do you choose between these different strategies for quitting the rat race? How do you decide which job-free lifestyle you want to pursue for yourself? This week's episode discusses this question and provides suggestions for how to choose a job-free lifestyle.

Show Notes

Listen to Episode 218


19 August 2015

217 Panama: Our Adventure Begins

This episode is a discussion with a special guest— my wife Hannah Braime, who is the host of Becoming Who You Are. We've just moved to Panama and we love it here already. In this episode we talk about all the preparations involved in our move, the start of our travel lifestyle, and our first impressions of life in Panama.

Show Notes




3 August 2015

216 Financial Independence Strengthens Your Moral Backbone


A listener shared these reflections with me:

"I like to think I'm a moral person but many times in my career (and in the careers of friends), I've been forced to choose between unethical behavior and possibly losing my job.  I handled this on a case by case manner, where I had to weight the importance of the unethical behavior, the likelihood of me being punished, the odds of me successfully elevating the issue to a superior, how much the unethical behavior would actually hurt the injured party, etc.  In other words, my response was ambiguous and led to a lot of sleepless nights."

The listener went on to explain that achieving financial independence strengthened his or her moral backbone and make it easier to say no to bad people at work. This is a brilliant insight and highlights one of the great benefits of financial independence. In this week's podcast episode I share some suggestions about how you can use entrepreneurship, extreme saving and unjobbing to make it easier for you to do the right thing.

Listen to Episode 216 (10 mins)


28 July 2015

215 Extreme Decluttering


“Simplicity is making the journey of this life with just baggage enough.”
 Charles Warner

Over the last three years, I've reduced my possessions to only those things that will fit inside one suitcase and one hand luggage bag. My wife and I decided to pursue extreme decluttering, in order to make a lifestyle of long-term travel more practical.

Decluttering was easy at first, but got harder the more extreme I took it. My possessions were not just serving practical needs, but emotional ones too. I had to work out how to address those needs before I could get rid of my stuff. Decluttering also forced me to acknowledge mistakes I had made in the past— mistakes I preferred to avoid thinking about.

Overall, extreme decluttering has been a fantastic learning process. I feel much freer because of it. I think that you can benefit in a similar way by decluttering, even if you don't want to reduce your stuff in such an extreme way as I did.

Show Notes:



Listen to Episode 215 (19 mins)


21 July 2015

214 From Drama To Empowerment: Discussion With Hannah Braime


In this week's podcast episode, special guest Hannah Braime talks about how to free yourself from a life of drama and move to a life of empowerment. Hannah is a coach, author, and host of Becoming Who You Are.

We discuss some powerful concepts from the field of psychology that Hannah uses in her coaching. She explains how easy it is to get stuck playing a series of roles in your life— acting out a script written by someone else. These roles are all too familiar: "the victim", "the persecutor" and "the rescuer". Hannah explains how to empower yourself to leave such roles behind and live life according to your own plans. I really enjoyed the discussion and I think you will find it both interesting and helpful.

Show Notes:
Listen to Episode 214 (25m)



13 July 2015

213 How To Think For Yourself Part 3: Logic And The Courage To Follow It


Part 3 in the series on how to think for yourself is all about logic. Here is how you reach true conclusions about any question in life: start with undeniable premises and use valid logic.  Logic— used in reasoned argument— is the universal, impartial method that humans have for finding the truth together peacefully. Yet very few people use logic consistently. I discuss some reasons why it is so hard to be logically consistent. The most important reason is that it takes courage to follow an argument to its logical conclusion, especially if the conclusion is not accepted by the majority of people around you. If you want to think for yourself, you need more than just valid logic— you also have to have the courage to follow it.

Show Notes:


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