Ten Layers of Absolute Freedom
by James Altucher
It feels really crazy good to make out with someone, doesn't it? Remember the first time you did that? Amazing!
My first thought was: why didn't anyone ever tell me it was going to feel this good?
Ok, I just had to get that off my chest. Now for some serious stuff: like quitting, going broke, stealing, lying, and maybe even killing someone.
In 2012 I wrote a popular article called "10 Reasons You Have to Quit Your Job in 2012". It got over a million views.
In 2013 I wrote a popular article called "10 Reasons You Have to Quit Your Job in 2013". It got about two million views on the various sites I posted it on.
In 2014, I wrote an insanely popular article called "10 Reasons You Have to Quit Your Job in 2014." It's now in the top 10 articles of all time on LinkedIn.
Did you quit your job? If so, you can skip the rest of this article. Go find someone to make out with. If you've never done that before I can tell you it feels really good.
The world is divided into angry people and free people.
Anger is a subset of fear. Maybe you are afraid to be lonely. Or afraid to be broke. Or afraid to die?
In 1994, 2001, 2005, 2008, and 2010 I was so angry and scared I didn't know what to do.
I thought I had to have a purpose, a goal. But this is BS.
There is only ONE purpose: TO BE FREE.
There are layers of freedom.
FIRST LAYER: Free from your own past and future. Which means: free of all regrets and petty hatreds from the past and anxieties and worries about the future.
This is very hard. I have to practice this every day. When you practice something, you get better.
For instance, I'm angry at someone who wrote me an angry email a year or so ago. That is petty. And he or she has his own fears. His own insecurities.
Freedom is a daily practice. If you get 1% better every day at freedom then you become not just free but an explorer. Explore as much as possible before your last breath.
#2: The next layer of freedom is to be free of other people's opinions of you. You never ride above the clouds if everyone is holding you down into the rain.
One time I ran into a co-worker who gave her opinion about something I was about to do at work: "you CAN'T do that. Nobody does that." She still works there and is still unhappy. 20 years later.
Another time several years ago someone wrote an article being somewhat cruel to me and taking things out of context.
At first I was really bothered. I actually cried and said, "why did he do this?" We had been friends and he twisted it. There's no answer. I had to give up trying to answer everyone else's fears.
#3: The next layer: be free of the opinions of the masses.
While everyone is wearing surgical masks and staying indoors because of Ebola and the fate of the dollar you can be outside enjoying the sun.
Everyone jumps on the latest trend. That trend gets weighed down by all the people jumping up and down on it.
Don't look towards the future for trends. Look towards the past. What worked before? Do it 10 times better.
PayPal is a great example. People have been paying each other for centuries. But with cash or credit. Paypal was 10x better. How about paying someone via email?
#4: The next layer: be free of the word "CAN'T".
I need to explain that one. Let's say I'm interested in basketball. I'm not going to be a professional basketball player.
Realistically, I can't be one.
Primarily because I'm 46 years old. Otherwise I would definitely be one, no question about it.
But I CAN write a novel about basketball. I can be an agent. I can work for a team. I can be a marriage counselor for pro basketball players. I can be a referee. I can design homes with basketball courts inside of them.
Don't think of an interest as a goal. Then you will spend your life with "CAN'T" as your lover. Think of your interest as a theme.
DO THIS TECHNIQUE:
a. I draw on a big piece of paper the names of all the themes I am interested in. games, writing, art, business, stocks, entrepreneurship, psychology, health, rap music, podcasts, TV, comic books, comedy, etc.
b. I make a bunch of dots of what I can do with all of these themes. One dot might be "write a novel". Another dot might be "start a podcast". Another might be "start a food truck".
c. Then I draw lines between the dots to connect them in various ways. Label each line. A line between games and psychology. Well, I can write about the psychology of a good game player and how that relates to business.
Suddenly I have 100 careers to choose from. And guess what? I'm allowed to choose more than one. Nobody can stop me. I CAN do that.
#5: The next layer of freedom: find someone who likes what you are doing.
A standard technique in Internet business is to give away great value for free.
Because then you get people to know who you are and like what you stand for. Steve Scott puts up a ton of free slideshares on how to build good habits.
But then he writes a new book every three weeks about building good habits. In just a few years he went from making $0 a month writing books to making $60,000 a month writing books and newsletters about habits.
He's not an exception. I know 100 other people doing this at least.
#6: Now that people like something you are doing, start thinking of something you can charge for. A premium version of what you are doing.
If you've never done this before, it feels overwhelming at first. I have a friend, Molly Hahn, who emails out doodles she makes every morning.
Every doodle has a Buddha character in it and a quote. How the hell is someone who does that going to make a living? She emails out free doodles of Buddhas.
This past year she made a six figure income selling things in her online doodle store.
I have a Buddha carpet, for instance. It's beautiful. I lie down on it throughout the day. She figured out what to give out for free and what to charge for. She's not an exception. She RULES.
#7: Another layer of freedom: ONLY do your best work 2-5 hours after you wake up.
We are only at peak productivity two to five hours after we wake up. Here's what I do: I read for the first two hours after I wake up and then I write.
After that I might still work, but mostly just followups and phone calls. Then I make out with people.
#8: You don't need a lot to live like a king.
It feels great when all of your bills are paid. It feels even better when you know you are doing something that will pay your bills for a long time.
If all you do is that then you are in great shape. If all you need is "enough" then you are the king of the world.
#9. Freedom is a path you choose every day.
When everyone else is afraid they are "stuck", it's great to know that you are on your path to freedom.
It takes years or even decades to be in your full stride so don't punish yourself if you are not "there" yet, wherever "there" is.
When I interviewed the rapper Coolio he told me it took him 17 years of writing every day before he had a single hit. But he was free to do it every day. Then he wrote one of the bestselling songs of all time. "I'm going to make money off of that one song for the rest of my life," he told me.
When I interviewed the standup comedian Jim Norton he told me it took him 6 years before he was making a living as a comedian. Now he's one of the most successful comedians in the world, 20 years later.
Do your themes every day because you love doing them. Remember that persistence + love = abundance. But persistence is measured in years, not days, not months. Go back to #1 when you forget this.
#10: Final freedom layer: Realize that everyone you meet today has been sent down from an alien mother ship to teach you a lesson. Learn those lessons.
This sounds like I'm making it up but it's true. Nobody will admit this of course. But trust me, it's true.
If all you do is this layer of freedom, then nothing can ever stop you from living the best possible life.
I know billionaires who don't do that final step and they are miserable every day. They even get to make out with a lot of people and are still miserable. Angry. So they try to make more money and they get angrier. Then they die.
If you do any of the above, have a little celebration. Put a candle on a cupcake. Love yourself.
Take a break from asking "why me?". Instead say "wow".
Go from "Why?" to "Wow!"
Good luck and good night.