The Voluntary Life: 2016

27 December 2016

275 The Best Books On Productivity


This week's episode is about the most helpful books I've read on productivity. During the episode, I explain why I recommend each book and what you can expect from them.

Show Notes:




19 December 2016

274 Imaginary Teams


Personal freedom comes from individual choice and individual responsibility, as opposed to collective identity and collective responsibility. This week's episode is about an idea that I find helpful in achieving personal freedom: Don’t join imaginary teams. Listen to the episode to find out more!

Show Notes:
Listen To Episode 274



13 December 2016

273 The Best Books On Entrepreneurship


This week's episode is about the most helpful books I've read on entrepreneurship. During the episode, I explain why I recommend each book and what you can expect from them. As mentioned in the episode, if you want to get a free copy of my book "Negotiate For Mutual Profit", sign up to my mailing list here.

Show Notes:

Listen To Episode 273


4 December 2016

272 Why I Choose Peaceful Parenting


I choose to parent without violence or aggression. This means I eschew various actions that a lot of parents still consider acceptable- actions such as spanking, hitting, yelling, psychotropic drugs, circumcision, and so on. In this episode, I explain my own reasons for choosing to practice peaceful parenting.

Show Notes:
Listen To Episode 272



27 November 2016

271 The Best Books To Start Learning About Financial Independence


Financial independence is one of the core topics of this podcast. I've covered it in many different ways, including a four part introductory series. This week's episode suggests a list of books that will give you an overview of the issues involved in pursuing financial independence.

I've tried to keep the list relatively short. Some of the books are must-reads, whereas others are suggested for specific purposes or additional information only. I've avoided country-specific books, so these books are relevant regardless of where you live. During the episode I explain why I recommend each book and what you can expect from them.

Show Notes:


Listen To Episode 271


21 November 2016

270 Harry Browne's Article "A Gift for My Daughter"


This week’s episode discusses a very thought-provoking article by the late Harry Browne, called  “A Gift for My Daughter”. It includes a recording of Harry reading his own words.

Harry’s ideas had a huge influence on me, but I don’t agree with him about everything. This article is particularly interesting because it explains an important truth, and yet I think it also demonstrates one of Harry’s most significant blindspots.

Show Notes:

Listen to Episode 270


13 November 2016

269 Review of A Guide to the Good Life by William B. Irvine


This week I am joined by my wife Hannah Braime to discuss William B. Irvine's book, A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy. This book argues that the philosophy of stoicism is relevant to modern life and can be used to help you live well, according to your own values. We recorded the episode for the Psychology Book Club. I am sharing it here because the themes are highly relevant to The Voluntary Life.

Show Notes:



Listen to Episode 269


8 November 2016

268 A Listener Question About Family Pressure, Expensive Weddings, And Kids


A listener posted a question in The Voluntary Life Community Facebook group. He asked:

How do you cope with family and friend pressure to buy bigger and better and to have an expensive wedding and kids, which leaves you with no ability to save and get ahead in life?

What do you think? Listen to this week's episode to hear my response.

Listen To Episode 268


31 October 2016

267 Consumerism Vs Saving: Four Theories


Why do people spend so much of their disposable income on consumption and save so little towards their own financial independence? There are many competing theories that try to answer this question. In this episode, I present four theories:
  • Theory 1: People are brainwashed into consumerism by advertising.
  • Theory 2: Spending escalates as people try to keep up with their peer groups.
  • Theory 3: Central bank policies have undermined saving.
  • Theory 4: Spending is the path of least resistance, so you won't save unless you have sufficient motivation.
Which (if any) of these theories have merit? Is there a better explanation? Let me know what you think!

Show Notes:

Listen To Episode 267


23 October 2016

266 Self-Sufficiency And DIY: Good For Financial Independence?


Many people who write about financial independence emphasise the benefits of self-sufficiency and DIY as part of their lifestyle. Will it help your journey to financial independence to try to be self-sufficient? Does it make financial sense to do your own repairs and renovations? This week's episode provides a different perspective.

Show Notes:


Listen To Episode 266


15 October 2016

265 A Review Of Escape From Childhood By John Holt


John Holt was a leading figure in the school reform movement, who became increasingly interested in how children learn outside of school—what he called “unschooling.” He wrote many influential books about alternatives to schooling and he helped start the modern homeschooling movement.

In his book Escape From Childhood, the subject of this week's episode, he provided thought-provoking insights into many problems with how adults treat children, and a vision of how children could be treated with dignity and given greater freedom.

Show Notes:


Listen To Episode 265


3 October 2016

264 Thomas Stanley's Wealth Index


Financial independence is one of the core topics of The Voluntary Life. I've heard from listeners at all stages of the journey to FI— just beginning,  already achieved FI, and all the steps in-between. In a previous episode, I explained the milestones along the journey to FI, to help judge how far you have progressed if you are working towards this goal. In this week's episode, I share another tool for judging your progress.

In his book Stop Acting Rich, author Thomas Stanley explained a way to calculate your relative net worth, taking into account both your age and your income. He used this calculation to create a wealth index, which you can use to judge whether you are on the path to FI, or whether you are burning more of your income than you should.

In the episode I explain how the wealth index is calculated and provide commentary on how to use it. There is also a free website that does the calculation for you.

Show Notes:



Listen To Episode 264


27 September 2016

263 Thinking Rationally Part 9: Rational Ethics


As part of the thinking rationally series, this episode is about rational ethics. In the episode I provide a historical overview, focussing on the revolution in moral philosophy that happened during the Enlightenment. Although there was amazing progress during the Enlightenment, the contradictions of enlightenment thinkers eventually led them to lose their way on ethics and abandon a rational approach to morality. Understanding this background is helpful if you want to use rational thinking to make sense of ethics for yourself.

Show Notes:


11 September 2016

261 Thinking Rationally Part 7: The Irrationality Of Politics


Politics brings out the worst in people. As the economist Joseph Schumpeter put it,
"The typical citizen drops down to a lower level of mental performance as soon as he enters the political field. He argues and analyzes in a way which he would readily recognize as infantile within the sphere of his real interests. He becomes a primitive again."
This week's episode is about the problem of political irrationality. Why are political beliefs so irrational? How does this affect your life? Listen to the episode to find out more!

Show Notes:
Listen To Episode 261



4 September 2016

260 Overcoming Negative Emotions


Before I tell you about this week's episode, I'm overjoyed to share that our daughter Freya was born in August! Everything went well and she is a wonderful little person.

This week’s podcast is a little different. It is a review of Peter Breggin's book, Guilt Shame And Anxiety: Understanding And Overcoming Negative Emotions. This episode was originally published on another podcast that I do with my wife Hannah, The Psychology Book Club Podcast.

I'm including this episode here because Peter Breggin's book is very relevant to many topics covered on The Voluntary Life. In the episode, Hannah and I discuss the challenging ideas presented in the book and how they can help you achieve greater psychological freedom.

Show Notes

Listen to Episode 260


28 August 2016

259 Breaking Limits In Business And Life (The Limit Breaker Interview)


Earlier this year, I was interviewed on The Limit Breaker podcast. Fumnanya, the host of the show, asked me lots of interesting questions on the topic of breaking limits in business and life. We talked about my influences, founding and selling a business, the path to a job free life, and much more.

Show Notes:


Listen To Episode 259


21 August 2016

258 Getting Started With Productivity Systems (Valiant Growth Interview)


This week's episode is all about getting started with productivity systems. It is an interview that I did recently on the Valiant Growth podcast.  A lot of people want to start using productivity tools and systems, but feel overwhelmed by all the options, jargon, and complexity. This episode will give you clear pointers about how to start simple and achieve massive improvements to your productivity.

Show Notes
Listen To Episode 258


14 August 2016

257 How To Rock The Someday Maybe List


This week's episode is about one of my favourite productivity techniques: the Someday Maybe List. It is an idea from David Allen's book, Getting Things Done. Many people focus on other aspects of GTD and ignore this particular idea, but I love it. In the episode, I make suggestions about how to get the most out of a kick-ass someday maybe list. Topics covered include:

  • The Purpose of Someday Maybe List
  • The benefits of managing your list in Evernote
  • How tagging, sorting, images, and other Evernote features can make your Someday Maybe List more inspiring and useful.

Show Notes:


Listen To Episode 257






6 August 2016

256 Perpetual Travel With Kids Part 2: Interview With Mike And Lauren


Youtube presenters Mike and Lauren are back on this week's episode to talk about travel with kids. We also catch up about all the things that they have been up to since I last spoke to them back in Episode 164. Their adventures include having a baby in Costa Rica, buying an RV, transitioning to life on the road, and planning to buy a barge to live on in Europe!

Show Notes:


Listen To Episode 256




28 July 2016

255 The Path to Permanent Travel & Minimalism (World Wanderers Interview)


This week's episode is from and appearance I made on The World Wanderers Podcast back in March. Ryan and Amanda, the hosts of The World Wanderers, asked me about my path to perpetual travel and minimalism. Here's a summary of the show from their website:
Do you want to travel permanently? Are you wondering what to do with your stuff? Are you considering selling all your stuff?
On this episode of the podcast, Jake Desyllas from The Voluntary Life shares what it was like to sell everything and move to Panama. Jake shares how he sold a business, an apartment, and all of his clothing and stuff, except one bag. If you’re feeling stressed at the thought of that, you are not alone!
Jake shares what it has been like to live with less, and what the path to permanent travel has been like, including what has been done and what still needs to be done. He tells us what life has been like in Panama, and the pros and cons to life on the road.
Show Notes:



Listen To Episode 255


19 July 2016

254 Perpetual Travel With Kids Part 1: Interview With Go Curry Cracker


Recently, I had fun meeting Jeremy and Winnie from Go Curry Cracker in Brighton. You may remember them from Episode 162, in which we talked about their path to financial independence through extreme saving, and their lifestyle of perpetual travel in early retirement. In this week's episode, they talk about about their experience of perpetual travel as a family. Their son Julian makes makes a guest appearance too!

I plan to interview other parents who are undertaking perpetual travel with their kids. I already have a couple of people in mind to talk to, but if you have suggestions for guest on this topic, I'd love to hear them.

Show Notes:


Listen To Episode 254


13 July 2016

253 A Review Of The Power Of Less


This week's episode is a review Leo Babauta's book, The Power Of Less. This book is about using habits to help you focus on what matters in life. In the review, I talk about some of the most helpful ideas that I found in the book, especially the suggestions about establishing a productive morning routine to kickstart your day. I also talk about some of the limitations of the book, and make suggestions for other useful books on this topic.

Show Notes:


Listen To Episode 253


6 July 2016

252 Adapting To Big Changes (Featuring Hannah Braime)


Last summer, back in episode 271, my wife Hannah and I spoke about the beginning of our adventure moving to Panama.  In this week's episode Hannah is back, and we talk about a lot of big changes that have happened since then! The episode provides an insight into our story, but it also touches on many themes important to The Voluntary Life. We discuss travel, minimalism, and adapting to big changes in life.

Show Notes:


Listen To Episode 252


30 June 2016

251 Entrepreneurship And Personal Development (Valiant Growth Interview)


Entrepreneurship is not just about building a business, it is also about building yourself. I see entrepreneurship as an intensive personal development program. This week's episode is from a recent interview that I gave about this topic on the Valiant Growth podcast.

Show Notes:


Listen to Episode 251


17 June 2016

250 Job Free: Introduction


This week's episode contains the beginning of the audiobook version of my latest book, Job Free. Whether you want to achieve financial independence and retire early, or simply never work for anyone else again, this book provides an essential guide to the different lifestyle-design strategies open to you.

You can get hold of the audiobook on Amazon and Audible, and it will shortly be available on iTunes. If you prefer reading, you can also get a paperback or e-book version on Amazon.

Show Notes:


Listen to Episode 250


7 June 2016

249 How I Carry My 600-Book Library In Hand Luggage


If you are interested in minimalism or a travel-oriented lifestyle, moving to a digital-only book library is a great benefit. Even if you don't plan to travel, switching to e-books has a ton of other advantages over maintaining paper books. This episode is all about the tools and techniques for managing an e-book library, including:

  • Making the transition from a physical to a digital library. 
  • Choosing a database application for managing e-books. 
  • Organising an e-book library with tags and other metadata. 
  • Having a system for keeping your own notes about books. 

Show Notes:
Listen to Episode 249




31 May 2016

248 Thinking Rationally Part 6: Your Superpower For Self-Determination


This episode is about the role of rational thinking in life. Rational thinking is a discipline of self-mastery, similar to the discipline of achieving physical fitness. I tackle some misconceptions about rational thinking and answer these questions:

  • What does cognitive science tell us about thinking rationally?
  • What are the costs of thinking rationally, and what are the benefits?

Show Notes:
Listen To Episode 248


21 May 2016

247 Thinking Rationally Part 5: Reason And Emotions

If you want to think rationally, what role do your emotions play? Is there a conflict between thinking rationally and experiencing feelings? In this episode, I explain the history of ideas around reason and emotion, and provide an overview of how to think rationally about feelings. Although the Enlightenment was a revolution in thinking rationally, Enlightenment philosophers never resolved their contradictions about the relationship between reason and the emotions, leaving a legacy of confusion about this topic. Instead of slavishly following feelings or repressing and ignoring them, rational thinking gives you a deeper, richer emotional life. Rational thinking enables you to pay attention to your feelings and make use of their valuable information.

Show Notes:

Listen to Episode 247


15 May 2016

246 Thinking Rationally Part 4: Listener Feedback On Faith Versus Reason


So far, the Thinking Rationally series has generated more listener feedback than any of my previous episodes! In this episode, I respond to feedback on the topic of faith versus reason. Here are the questions covered:

  • Can reason be accommodated within religious faith?
  • Don't we all live by some kind of faith, anyway?
  • Do I argue that we are "nothing more than matter in motion"?
  • Did I present a fair history of Christianity?

Show Notes:
Listen to Episode 246




8 May 2016

245 Thinking Rationally Part 3: Anti-Rational Ideas


Rational thinking transforms your life, by giving you autonomy and the freedom of the individual. Since it spread during the Enlightenment, rational thinking has also transformed society and created the modern world. Yet many influential philosophers explicitly rejected rational thinking, because they understood where it would lead and did not like what they saw. This episode is about anti-rational ideas. I cover how these ideas emerged as a reaction to the Enlightenment, and why such anti-rational ideas are so popular today among contemporary philosophers.

Show Notes:


Listen To Episode 245



30 April 2016

244 Thinking Rationally Part 2: Imaginary Creatures and Machines


The biggest challenge of thinking rationally is not learning new techniques, it is overcoming irrational and anti-rational ways of thinking. In Part 1 of this series, I talked about how religious faith conflicts with your rational faculty. This episode is about a secular way of thinking that will derail your rationality. It is a way of thinking about society that seems to be very rational, but is in fact an abuse of reason. Listen to the episode to find out more!

Show Notes:
The Counter Revolution Of Science by Friedrich Hayek

Listen To Episode 244



23 April 2016

243 Thinking Rationally Part 1: Faith Versus Reason


Rational thinking is the engine behind all the great achievements of the modern world. It is the vital tool for making your own choices and for freeing yourself from prejudices and indoctrination. This series of episodes will summarise all the best ideas that I've found about how to think rationally. Part 1 uses the example of the history of Christianity in Europe to explain the conflict between religion and rational thinking.

Show Notes:
Listen to Episode 243






14 April 2016

242 Financial Pros And Cons Of Home Ownership


Home ownership is often touted as a financially savvy choice, but is it? In this week's episode, I explore some of the financial pros and cons of buying your own home for those interested in financial independence.

Show Notes:

Listen To Episode 242


6 April 2016

241 Selling Our Home To Travel The World


As part of adopting a minimalist lifestyle and becoming expats, we sold everything that would not fit into one suitcase each. The biggest part of our downsizing was selling our apartment and all the furniture in it. This episode is about the practical and psychological lessons from selling the flat, getting rid of all our stuff, and changing from being homeowners to travelling renters.

Show Notes:


Listen To Episode 241


23 March 2016

240 Freedom Lovin' Interview— Job Free


Back in January, I had a fun chat with Kevin Koskella on the Freedom Lovin podcast. Kevin and I spoke about the ideas in my book, Job Free, as well as life in Panama, entrepreneurship, and the permanent portfolio. Here's a recording of the interview.

Show Notes:



Listen to Episode 240



15 March 2016

239 Minimalism And Clothes


Preparing for a life of travel involved getting rid of anything that I could not take with me in one suitcase. One big source of clutter to address was clothes. My clothes took up a lot of space, yet I hardly ever wore many of them. As part of my extreme decluttering, I got rid of every item of clothing beyond a minimal set that would fit with my one-suitcase plan. The process included making an inventory, deciding what to keep or get rid of, and selling or giving away a huge amount of clothes. Whether you plan to travel or not, this episode will give you some food for thought about changing your approach to clothes.

Show Notes:
Listen to Episode 239


6 March 2016

238 Zero Data


This week’s episode is about how I implemented Zero Data: having all my data in the cloud. This has been an essential part of adopting a digital nomad lifestyle but is also relevant for anyone who wants a more minimalist, clutter-free life.

I digitised any kind of data that could be digitised, such as music, movies, photos, books, and documents. Once digital, I moved all my data into cloud storage of one kind or another. Then I got rid of all data clutter that was part of my stuff. I got rid of all my CDs, DVDs, Photos, spare computers, etc. Now all my data lives in the cloud.

In the episode, I explain how I implemented a zero data system, and I outline some of the key issues to address. These include privacy (encryption), backup, redundancy, and sync vs archive.

Show Notes:

Listen to Episode 238


22 February 2016

236 The Free State Project: Interview With Stephanie and Brian


The Free State Project is a social experiment encouraging 20,000 people interested in "liberty in our lifetime" to move together to New Hampshire. The idea is to create an intentional community of like-minded people who are interested in personal and political liberty. By concentrating people with similar values in one place, the aim is to have a greater impact on the local culture and thereby generate more freedom. In this episode, I interview Stephanie Murphy and Brian Sovryn—two members of the Free State Project— about their experiences in New Hampshire as part of this community.

Show Notes:


Listen to Podcast 236



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