The Voluntary Life: 2017

30 December 2017

318 Mind Mapping

An episode about how to use mind maps as a productivity tool to plan any project and support your creative thinking.

Show Notes:


Check out this episode!

15 December 2017

317 Investing In Bonds

If you are investing towards financial freedom, you face a decision: which asset classes should you put your money in? This episode is about one of the main asset classes: fixed-income securities, or bonds. Bonds can behave in strange ways as an investment, especially in times when interest rates are very low (as they are at present). I'm not a financial advisor and this episode is just my opinions, so you will need to do your own research, but this episode will give you food for thought.

Show Notes:

Support The Voluntary Life on Patreon and get Bonus episodes!


Check out this episode!

3 December 2017

316 80/20 Parenting and the ACE Study

How could you apply the 80/20 Principle to parenting? In this episode, Jake answers this question using evidence from a fascinating empirical study into how childhood experiences can impact your health and wellbeing for the rest of your life.

Show Notes:

Check out this episode!

24 November 2017

315 Nonviolent Communication

Many people who are interested in personal freedom and self-improvement find value in an approach to negotiation called Nonviolent Communication (NVC). In this episode, I provide an assessment of NVC, outlining aspects that I find useful, problems with the approach, and some misconceptions of the framework.

Show Notes:

Check out this episode!

17 November 2017

314 The Best TV Show For Entrepreneurs

In this episode I explain what I've learned from my favourite TV show and why I recommend that you watch it if you are an entrepreneur or are interested in business. The Profit is an MSNBC show about entrepreneur Marcus Lemonis investing in small businesses.

Show Notes:

Check out this episode!

8 November 2017

313 Bitcoin and Cryptocurrencies Today

Stephanie Murphy and Brian Sovryn explain the state of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in November 2017. Stephanie is the host of Let's Talk Bitcoin and Brian hosts Sovryn Tech. In this interview, they share their insights into significant changes in the world of cryptocurrencies and what current developments mean for users and investors.

Show Notes:

Check out this episode!

1 November 2017

312 The Unjobbing Way

James Davis is a great example of an "unjobber". His unconventional work life has included making money as a professional poker player, transforming a children's summer camp, and starting an online fantasy sports business. In this interview, James talks about how he successfully pursued the unjobbing lifestyle and how you can do so too.
Show Notes:

Check out this episode!

25 October 2017

311 What Is The Point Of Getting Married?

In this episode, Jake talks about growing up with a view of marriage as an outdated tradition with negative connotations, and how his view changed as he came to understand the positive reasons to get married. Whatever your current view of marriage, this discussion will give you food for thought.

Check out this episode!

18 October 2017

310 How I Became An Estonian E-Resident

The Estonian E-Residency program is worth considering for anyone running a business online as a digital nomad. In this episode I explain the background to e-residency, how the application process works, and what the benefits are.

Show Notes:

Check out this episode!

10 October 2017

309 Aligning Your Career With Your Values

Ken Justice had a prestigious and well-paid job, until he realised that his work was not aligned with his values. In this thought-provoking interview, he describes the enormous changes that he made to his career and his life.
Show Notes:

Check out this episode!

4 October 2017

308 Building A Tiny House

Become A Patron of TVL to get bonus episodes and rewards!
The tiny house movement is relevant for anyone interested in minimalism, frugal living, and a travel-oriented lifestyle. In this interview, Link Wilcox talks about her project to build a tiny house.
Show Notes:

Check out this episode!

26 September 2017

307 Five Ways To Live The Voluntary Life

Jake's speech at the Freecoast Festival 2017, presenting five ways to live the voluntary life:
  1. Rational Thinking
  2. Personal Freedom
  3. Peaceful Parenting
  4. Financial Independence
  5. Internationalisation
Show Notes:

Check out this episode!

19 September 2017

306 New Hampshire: Our Adventure Continues

Jake and Hannah talk about travelling from Catalonia to New Hampshire, USA. The discussion covers adapting to a travel lifestyle with a baby, the challenges of minimalism and intercontinental travel, differences between Catalonia and New England as expat locations, and many more topics!

Show Notes:

Check out this episode!

1 September 2017

305 What Is Forgiveness?

What does forgiveness mean? What is it for? Should you forgive others in order to be free? Or is the idea of forgiveness a trap? Check out the episode to find out more!

Check out this episode!

25 August 2017

304 Passive Investing with Index Funds

This episode answers questions from TVL listeners on the topic of investing in stocks. It provides an introduction to low-cost, passive investing with index funds. When choosing investment funds, a key issue for passive investors is the expense ratio. This episode explains the huge difference between average expense ratios and those of low-cost funds.
I am not a financial advisor. This episode is about what I've learned as an individual investor but, as always, you will need to do your own research.
Show Notes:

Check out this episode!

18 August 2017

303 The Weekly Review For Productivity

This week's episode is about suggestions for implementing a weekly review for productivity. It is a conversation from the patron-only livestream that I do with supporting listeners every month. You will find it helpful if you are interested in implementing or upgrading your own weekly review habit.
Show Notes:

Check out this episode!

10 August 2017

302 Against Therapy

This week's episode is a discussion with Hannah Braime about a very interesting book called Against Therapy by Jeffrey Masson. We recorded this for the Psychology Book Club Podcast. I'm including it on The Voluntary Life because it is highly relevant to everyone interested in self-knowledge and psychological freedom.
Show Notes:
Check out this episode!

2 August 2017

301 How Old Are Entrepreneurs?

This week's episode is about some very interesting data on the average age of entrepreneurs when they start their first business. You might find the results surprising...
The research cited is the Kauffman Foundation study in the US and the Sandler Training study in the UK.

Special Announcement: New Podcast Feed


Hopefully you won't need to do anything, but in case you find that you are not getting any more episodes, please resubscribe using the URL of the new feed, which is:

Background info:

As part of upgrading the podcast feed, I'm now doing the final step of implementing a permanent redirect. This should all just work without you having do know about it. However, apparently sometimes it doesn't work, and if that happens you can subscribe to to keep getting The Voluntary Life. Thanks!

Check out this episode!

29 July 2017

300 The Different Principles Of Peaceful And Non-Peaceful Parenting

This week's episode presents the implicit principles that underpin non-peaceful parenting, and contrasts them with the principles of peaceful parenting presented in Episode 278.

Show Notes:

299 What Is Selfishness?

Is unselfishness a virtue? Or is the idea of unselfishness a trap used to prevent you from living your own life? What is selfishness anyway?
This week's episode is about different theories of selfishness, including Harry Browne's idea of the unselfishness trap and an alternative definition of selfishness by Oscar Wilde.
Show Notes:

12 July 2017

298 Your Life Is Not On Loan

This week's episode is a response to this listener email:

"I am very close to the financial independence. I have listened to some podcasts you have on the topic, but I still have some doubts. I know that my parents will not understand why I am not getting up every morning to go to the office. I know that my friends will ask about my next professional challenges and why I decided to quit. I cannot mention the financial independence because it will generate envy, and that is not a comfortable situation. Is lying the only solution? Or breaking up with your parents, brothers and friends?"

Show Notes:

3 July 2017

297 The Role Of Cash In Investing

There is a saying in investing that "cash is trash", because cash provides such low returns and loses value owing to inflation. Yet every investor has to deal with cash in some way and there is always some role for cash within a portfolio. So how much of your net worth should you have in cash? Why hold it? When should you rebalance in and out of cash?

Harry Browne thought carefully about the role of cash with his permanent portfolio strategy. His insights on cash are useful for all investors, regardless of your particular approach. In this episode I explain the role of cash in investing from a permanent portfolio strategy perspective. As always, your money is your own responsibility. I am not a financial advisor.

Show Notes:
Listen To Episode 287

26 June 2017

296 No One Is Coming To Save You

This week's episode is a response to this listener email:
"I've been a long term listener, but honestly I'm having a difficult time [seeing why I should be] a paid subscriber. I listen to several podcasts and a similar characteristic seems to be FI and hosts who are millionaires. Provide real value for those who don't enjoy that status and the money will come. There's too many of us who want to be financially independent but don't have a system to get there. Figure out a way to teach the methods and you'll never have to ask for donations."

The Voluntary Life now has a Patreon page! In the first week of TVL on Patreon, my patrons have received:
  • The first exclusive patron podcast episode (How To Sort Your Life Out Part 2)
  • An Evernote template for Areas of Responsibility from my own productivity system
  • Behind-the-scenes information about the running costs of the podcast
  • Three e-books by Jake
  • And lots more!
Become a Patron today to get all these goodies and more to come, including this week's patron-only episode, "How To Do A Daily Review". 

Show Notes:
Listen to Episode 296

19 June 2017

295 How To Sort Your Life Out Part 1 (and Patreon!)

The Areas of Responsibility framework is a very powerful productivity technique for sorting your life out. It helps me answer questions such as:
  • What am I doing with my life, and why?
  • Is what I am doing right now a good use of my time?
  • What should I devote my efforts to in order to build the life I want?
In this episode I introduce Areas of Responsibility and explain how to start implementing them.

I've also got some big developments to tell you about. I want to completely upgrade The Voluntary Life, provide a whole new range of bonus content, and enable new ways for you to connect with me and other supporting listeners. Please help me by becoming a patron of the show and supporting me with a monthly amount of your choosing, through Patreon. Sign up and get your bonuses now at The first bonus episode has already been recorded and it goes deeper into the same theme as this one, as Part 2 of How To Sort Your Life out.

Show Notes:
Listen to Episode 295

9 June 2017

Special Announcement: Keynote Presentation At The Freecoast Festival

I will be giving the keynote presentation at the Freecoast Festival on the 9th September 2017 in beautiful Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The festival runs from the 8th to 10th September. The theme this year is "Living A Voluntary Life"— so the topics will be highly relevant for TVL listeners.

Both my wife Hannah and I will be giving presentations on Saturday 9th September. My keynote will take place on a catered cruise on a special cruise boat— so if you want to hear it, get a ticket for the cruise as well as the general admission. If you get a ticket before the end of June and use the promo code "Jake", you will get a free Freecoast T-Shirt too, with the logo shown below.

6 June 2017

294 The Five Laws Of Stupidity

"Non-stupid people always underestimate the damaging power of stupid individuals. In particular non-stupid people constantly forget that at all times and places and under any circumstances to deal and/or associate with stupid people always turns out to be a costly mistake."
Carlo Cipolla

In the 1970s, an economic historian called Carlo Cipolla wrote a provocative article titled "The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity". This week's episode is about his theory of the destructiveness of stupid behaviour and why it is so underestimated and misunderstood.

Show Notes:
Listen To Epsiode 294


29 May 2017

293 Girona: Our Adventure Continues (featuring Hannah Braime)

This week's episode features Hannah and me discussing our move to Girona. We talk about adapting to a travel lifestyle with a baby, the challenges of minimalism and travel, beautiful Girona as an expat location, and many more topics!

Show Notes:
Listen To Episode 293

22 May 2017

292 A Listener Question About The Decision To Have Kids

This week's episode is a response to this interesting listener question:

"Hi Jake, I would like to hear your thoughts on making the decision to have a child. I am 33 years old, and there are lots of expectations on this one. I find it difficult to escape this identity trap and to know for myself if I want to become a parent or not.  I know it's a BIG one, and it is personal, but your podcast is probably the only place which talks about parenting from a unique perspective different than the norm. I will be curious to hear your view, especially as a new parent."

Show Notes:
Listen to Episode 292

8 May 2017

291 Setting Up A Nomadic Business With Estonian E-Residency: Interview With Ilias Ismanalijev

Ilias Ismanalijev is a web developer based in Belgium. When Ilias started his own company straight after college, he wanted to be able to manage the business online and travel easily as a digital nomad. In this interview, he explains why he chose to to found his business in Estonia using Estonian E-Residency. If you are interested in different options for running a nomadic business, check out our discussion of Ilias' experience.

Show Notes:

Listen To Episode 291

1 May 2017

290 Escaping The Identity Trap

The identity trap is an idea from Harry Browne's book How I Found Freedom In An Unfree World. Harry suggested that some widely held assumptions about life are false. By accepting such false assumptions, you lose your freedom. He called these false assumptions "traps".

The identity trap is the belief that you should be the person that others want you to be, rather than being yourself. In the episode, I suggest two key questions to ask yourself in order to escape the identity trap.

Show Notes:
Listen To Episode 290

24 April 2017

289 Managing Your Productivity System (Valiant Growth Interview)

This weeks episode is about how to manage your own productivity system for getting things done. It comes from an interview that I did a while ago on the Valiant Growth podcast. In the interview, I talk about various techniques for managing your own productivity system, including:
  • The different components of a productivity system
  • Undertaking regular reviews
  • Choosing between different productivity tools, such a task-management apps and paper-based systems.
Show Notes:

16 April 2017

288 A Listener Question About Working Hard And Missing Out On Life Experiences

This week's episode is a response to this listener question:

"From what I gather, for much of your 20s and 30s you worked very hard on building your business and for long hours each day. It has clearly paid off for you, as you've sold the business and enjoyed many years of financial independence. But is this something you'd recommend for younger people? What's the best way of thinking about the work/life balance at that stage of life? I find myself thinking, what if I worked extremely hard for many years and died in a freak accident before I'd got to have significant life experiences? It may seem like pessimism, but to focus almost entirely on ones work must require some delayed gratification, unless your truly love your work. Similar issues are involved with extreme saving. I thought you might have some good insights about the sort of questions to ask yourself to get a better understanding of how to approach this."

Show Notes:
Listen to Episode 288

9 April 2017

287 Freedom Surfer: Interview With Simon On Location Independent Business And Lifestyle

Simon writes for digital nomads, perpetual travellers, and location independent entrepreneurs on his blog Freedom Surfer. In this interview, he talks about his own journey to location independence and his thoughts on the pros and cons of this lifestyle. He explains how he tackles the practical challenges of perpetual travel, such as business formation, banking, and taxation.

Show Notes:
Listen to Episode 287

2 April 2017

286 Wireless Life: Interview with Sebastian Kühn on running a location-indenpenent business

In this week's episode, my guest Sebastian Kühn talks about the benefits and challenges of running a location-independent business. He shares his own experiences setting up businesses in Hong Kong and Estonia, as well as his thoughts on the Estonian E-Residency program. Sebastian Kühn is a the author of a website for digital nomads called Wireless Life.

Show Notes:
Listen To Episode 286

26 March 2017

285 Making It All Work

This week's episode is a review of David Allen's book, Making It All Work. This book is about applying principles of productivity beyond work, to life as a whole. The review is a discussion between myself and Chris Stefanick taken from Chris' podcast, Choice Conversations.

Show Notes:
Listen to Episode 285

19 March 2017

284 What The Founder Shows About Entrepreneurship

It is not often that Hollywood makes movies which explore real business challenges. The Founder is a movie about how Ray Kroc created a global restaurant franchise from a small business started by the MacDonald brothers. This podcast episode is about what entrepreneurs can learn from the ideas shown in the movie.

Show Notes:
Listen To Episode 284

9 March 2017

283 Minimalism and Parenting (Featuring Hannah Braime)

Does becoming a parent mean giving up a minimalist lifestyle? In this episode Hannah and I discuss our experience of minimalism and parenting. Some of the topics covered include:

  • Baby-wearing as an alternative to prams
  • Co-sleeping as an alternative to cots
  • Breastfeeding and baby-led weaning as alternative to bottle feeding and baby foods
  • Buying second-hand stuff for babies
  • How attachment parenting and respectful parenting fit in with minimalism

Show Notes:

Listen to Episode 283

3 March 2017

282 The Fear That Motivates Me (Sample Hour Interview)

This episode is from a conversation I had recently on The Sample Hour podcast with the host, Drew Sample. We had a wide ranging discussion covering options for living a job free life, productivity, minimalism as a parent, and motivation— including the fear that motivates me.

Show Notes:
Listen To Episode 282

24 February 2017

281 Listener Feedback on Peaceful Parenting

In this episode, I respond to listener feedback about peaceful parenting. Some of the topics covered include:

  • Is spanking justified?
  • What about minor kinds of aggression in parenting, such as confiscating possessions?
  • One listener's experience of practicing peaceful parenting for 18 years.
  • How come I argue against the use of psychotropic drugs on children?

Show Notes:
Listen to Episode 281

16 February 2017

280 How To Disagree

Although it might not seem like it, disagreeing is a skill. To disagree well is not only an important skill, but also a learnable one. Most people disagree so poorly that they fail to even make an argument. This podcast episode presents Paul Graham's excellent article "How To Disagree" and discusses the concept of a hierarchy of disagreement.

Show Notes:

7 February 2017

279 Designing A Life Without Regrets (Featuring Hannah Braime)

This week Hannah and I discuss ways to design a life without regrets. Hannah talks about how to use journaling to stay conscious of what really matters to you.. I explain my own journaling practice inspired by her approach- Each week I complete the following sentence stems:
  • The most courageous expression of my feelings at the moment would be…
  • The best opportunity for quality time this week is …
  • If I were to let myself be happier, I would …
  • The most extraordinary thing that I can work on these days is …
  • The best thing I can do to get more transparency in what I do these days is …
  • The best opportunity for automation in what I do these days is …
  • The thing am I doing regularly that I least inspired by is …
  • We are at our best these days when …
  • The thing I am most concerned about going wrong this week is  …
  • The way I would handle that is …
  • The thing I am most resisting at the moment is …
  • The most audacious goal that haven't fully admitted to myself is …
Listen to the episode to find out more!

Show Notes:

31 January 2017

278 Three Principles Of Philosophy Applied To Parenting

This episode is about three principles of philosophy applied to parenting:
  1. Children own themselves (all people are self-owners).
  2. Parents have positive obligations towards their children (all individuals are responsible for their own actions).
  3. It is wrong to initiate aggression against children (initiating aggression against anyone is unjustifiable).
Philosophical principles don't provide detailed prescriptions for parenting, but they do give a framework for understanding which parenting practices are ethical.

If a principle is valid, then all its logical implications are valid too, even if those implications challenge widely-accepted practices. In the episode, I show how these principles can be applied to reevaluate many common parenting practices.

Show Notes:

Listen to Episode 278

22 January 2017

277 Why It Is Worth Striving To Achieve A Job Free Life

What will you do when you reach financial independence and job freedom? In this episode, I suggest some of the major opportunities that make this lifestyle worth striving to achieve, based on my own experience. Good luck on your journey, and let me know what you think!

Show Notes:
Listen To Episode 277

9 January 2017

276 Society Is Your Relationships

Paul Johnson's book, Intellectuals, provides many examples of the disastrous personal lives of intellectuals like Jean Jaques Rousseau, Karl Marx, Jean Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir. Why do so many intellectuals—who famously argue for a better society— behave so badly in their personal relationships? Johnson suggests a few explanations, such as their need for attention and desire to post-rationalise bad decisions.

There is also something about the way that these intellectuals think that leads them to neglect the people close to them. They share a faulty view of society, from which it makes sense for them to care so little about their personal relationships. In this episode, I argue that a correct understanding of society leads to investing in your personal relationships, because your society is your relationships.

Show Notes:
Listen To Episode 276