I was scared after I was thrown out of school.
I didn’t want to spend my life in prison. I didn’t want to have a 9-5 job. I understand not every 9-5 job is bad.
But I didn’t even want a job I loved. I was afraid of not being able to do what I wanted during the day.
When I was in school I would go to the museum during the day. I would spend time with friends during the day. I would try to write novels during the day. I would play games many days, sometimes all day.
Once I had a job, I was trapped. I had to work until dark. I had no car, so I had to hitchhike home. I had to kiss *ss on the boss so he would either not fire me, or he would promote me, or he would give me tasks that weren’t boring.
I didn’t like having a person order me around. I didn’t like being scared of him.
I locked my office door so I could still write fiction all day. But I was repeatedly caught and given warnings.
I hated some blob “warning” me for living a life I wanted to live, even if I got all my meaningless tasks done.
Some of the tasks were like: “Write the manual for the chip we are making”. I’d write the manual and like any other manual in the world written by a twenty-two year old, it sucked.
Another task was, “watch my car while I go into the airport.” And then I got in huge trouble when a policeman gave the car a ticket.
I was always getting into trouble. And I was always scared. Scared for my meaningless existence.
Not only had I led a life worth unexamining, it seemed my future was even worth less examination.
The boss would call me in his office. He was twenty-five years old. Not much older than me but he was a blob about to become a billionaire and I was just a piece of blob worth nothing.
He said, “Don’t you have any pride in your work?”
And I turned red and he just watched me. And he said, “Answer the question.”
But I had no answer. I had no pride in my work. So I was fired. And I had to hitchhike home the day I was fired.
I got depressed. I felt useless. I was going to disappear without making any dent. I was scared.
Now we live in a new world. A world where you don’t have to get a job. Where there are opportunities with their hands out, waiting to be touched and loved, if you just reach out as far as you can and touch them back.
Here are ten reasons you shouldn’t have a job. Included in these ten reasons are reasons to be hopeful.
1) One Job = Only One Source of Income
According to the IRS, the average multi-millionaire has seven different sources of income.
A job is just one source of income. Not only that, your one job is taxed almost 50% so most of it goes to fight wars and pay for things you would never pay for.
Plus your boss takes out money for not only insurance and 401ks (“savings” because you can’t be trusted with your own money) but they take out money (trust me, since I’ve been a boss also) for your desk, your computer, and basically your right to work for them (since they need to extract more value out of you than you deliver so that they make more money than you).
They chain you so you are just paid enough to live but not to thrive.
2) Imagine Your Job Is Your Business
A business often has multiple lines of income. You spend a few hours each week on each product line.
But a job takes up sixty hours at least. Forty + hours of work. Plus another ten hours of transportation. Plus mind-numbing tasks you can do to inoculate yourself against the pain of having to go back to work the next day.
You are constantly reminded that you have go back to work. So for two-three hours a night you have to do everything you can to forget that painful fact.
If you view your job the way a businessperson views a line of revenue, you would say, “this is the worst business possible. I need to switch businesses.”
3) Your Job is the Walking Dead
I was talking to Robin Chase, the founder of Zipcar. “Eventually – ten years maybe – driverless cars will be the only cars on the road. The auto industry and all of its ancillary industries will have 90% fewer employees and those people will have nowhere to go.”
“Returning soldiers talk to AI-based therapists to determine if they have PTSD or Depression or not.” He said, “Lawyers, therapists, and even all of middle management will soon be replaced by AI and robotics”
So who is left? Blue collar will be gone and most of white collar will be gone.
The 0.1% will be left. The ones who will allocate capital away from hiring workers towards hiring robots to shelve Walmart shelves, do your therapy, take care of your legal and accounting needs, and drive the 0.1% to their malls and stores.
“What will happen to the other 90%?” I asked Robin. But she had no real answer. “They will need help!”
Who will help them? Who?
There is no answer. Nobody cares. If you don’t quit your job, your job is going to quit you.
4) You Have No Friends
I’ve had lots of jobs. I admit I am a bit pathetic. But I have no friends from previous jobs.
Most of those friends were nice to me because I sat in the cubicle next to them while I listened to them beg pathetically to their girlfriends or boyfriends all morning after an argument and then someone would hang up on someone.
Then they would show up at my cubicle and try to take out their frustrations on other employees. Everyone gossiped. Everyone was sad.
The employee manual was always there to dictate what we should wear, what we should say to members of the opposite sex, who we needed to report intimacy to if such a thing were to occur in such a sterile environment.
And worst case, a boss would walk by and everyone would stop by with our white collar stars pinned to our white button down shirts.
Then I’d get a new job and have new friends.
I hope now the friends I meet are real friends. Because they come out of common ground and interests and, I hope, love.
5) Income is Disappearing
In the past twenty-fove years, real income has gone from $36,000 to $33,000 for people ages eighteen to thirty-five.
Why? Who knows. Because nobody cares.
Then the talking blobs on TV tell you you have to start saving during those years.
Meanwhile, the cost of living has gone up.
How do you save, when it costs more to LIVE, while the money coming in the bank is going down.
Society is being strangled. I don’t blame anyone. It’s not the government’s fault. It’s not Wall Street’s fault. Or Main Street’s fault.
Jobs were a myth from the beginning.
The Industrial Revolution standardized society so that factory workers would show up at the same time, have the same education, hit the same bolt on the same nut at the same time, and get paid every two weeks.
The the Internet economy came which globalized the idea of a job. Now we live in the Idea economy where the wealth is moved from the people who do the work to the people who have the ideas.
It’s not evil. It’s just the course of human history and how change is always inevitable.
The economy is about to undergo massive change.
For 100 years we’ve been worried about inflation – the idea that prices always rise.
But “always” is always wrong. (!)
With changes in biotech – healthcare costs will eventually go down as focus goes from “cure” to “prevention.”
With driverless cars as well as batteries – car costs and energy costs will go down
With AI and robotics – many jobs will be done more efficiently…and not by humans
Computers – prices are going down
3D printing and drones – costs of shipping will disappear
Virtual reality – costs of everything from games to transportation will disappear or go to zero
Technology has now reached THE DREAM – the idea that the benefits of technology will drive down the costs needed to pay for it.
Which is good (we will pay less for the things we love). And is bad (no need for you anymore. No need to pay you anymore.)
This is not fifty years in the future. This is already happening now. And will only get worse/better no matter what government “solutions” are going to bail people out.
7) There Are Alternatives
This is the magic of every business being developed now:
A) A group of people have excess capacity (for example, extra rooms in a house that are never used. Or extra seats in a car).
B) There is a group of people who will buy that excess capacity
C) There is a “platform” created to mediate between “A” and “B” and handle all monetary transactions, problems, logistics, etc. (e.g. Airbnb, Uber, and 100s more).
This “Excess Capacity” economy is only getting bigger. There are many ways to be in group “A”. There are many platforms now – not just Airbnb and Uber. But Alibaba, Ebay, Etsy, Infusionsoft, and maybe 100 others.
Start researching the excess capacity in your life and how to monetize it.
It might even be mental excess capacity. Don’t underestimate what you have in your mind or in your garage.
We live in an “idea economy”. So perhaps first you have to exercise the idea muscle.
Don’t buy a course, or a workshop or any BS that the reverends of self-help will try and sell you. They give the briefest of injections of false hope to fight off the never-ending despair of change.
Just write down ten ideas a day to exercise this idea muscle. You will build it. It will be magic. Trust me.
8) Here Are Some Ideas to Start You Off
I was scared because so many people were writing me they didn’t know what to do as they were losing their jobs.
So I cold-wrote the CEO of the largest freelance job company in the world. Freelance.com’s CEO, Matt Barrie.
I asked, “How can people earn $2000 in a weekend with only a few months worth of training.”
He wrote back immediately (note: I have no affiliation with him and there are many sites like his so I am not even pushing his site here.)
He wrote back (thank you Matt!):
“Every single project is tailor-made based on the needs and requirements of each employer. Nevertheless, please find a list of projects where freelancers can easily make $2,000 or more in just a couple of days:
1. Video Animation – video projects for KickStarter/Indiegogo or an animation explainer videos for a new product/service launch are an easy and quick job to do online
2. Programming – e.g. for Ecommerce stores (Shopify, Magento), we have seen a huge increase in ecommerce, as well as social media commerce
3. Website testing or Web Scraping – last minute changes on the site before the big launch, companies want to make sure the site would work as intended so they simply hire someone to test it throughout
4. Website Development and Design (as you said, WordPress fits in this category) – it can be templated but it’s quick and efficient and it looks good
5. Children’s Book Illustration – incredibly popular job on the site that pays quite well. Self-publishing is a big thing these days and illustrators on the site can provide for a huge range of different design styles that fit any requirements
6. Writing – we have seen numerous requests from people needing help with their business plans or book editing hiring experts in the field on Freelancer.com. It’s especially popular among not native speakers when they need something done in English or another language and they want to do it right
7. 3D Rendering and Architecture Design – huge skill on the site, studios are willing to pay a lot of money to get last minute support and help with their projects or contests
8. Software Architecture
9. App development – full time staff or freelance temp workers may not always be available to help out, especially during the weekends, while our developers on the site can easily fix any issue or help to finalise the project when deadlines are tough
10. Photoshop or any other design work – companies would pay substantial money to have their PowerPoint, Infographics, Brochures or Keynote presentations designed by a professional designer on the site.”
I’m not saying you should do these things. But opportunities and education are there right now.
9) Where is the Education
lynda.com, Khan Academy, Coursera, Udemy, Codeacademy, Udacity, Skillshare, are a few. If there are more, please tell me.
None of these will make you do better at your job. They will all give you ideas for alternative sources of income that can eventually replace your job.
Again, I have zero affiliation with them. I’ve taken courses at most of them.
My thirteen year old daughter takes classes via Codeacademy.
10) A Stable Salary is Fake
The worst thing you can have is a stable salary.
A stable salary gives you no feedback on how you are doing. You always make the same every two weeks.
Instead, income should be feedback. If it is going up, you can scale the parts of your income that are working.
If it is going down, you can change the things that are not working well.
This is how people make a lot of money.
A stable salary is an addiction (thank you Nassim Taleb for pointing that out) that fools one into thinking they are doing ok until the day they are fired.
11) (bonus) Be Happy With Less
About a year ago I threw away almost everything I owned.
If it can’t fit in one bag, I don’t have it. Some people need two bags. That’s fine. No judgment. Take ten bags.
But some people need $X in the bank. Or they always wanted Y to waste away in their closet.
Value stories and experiences over objects. You can get a story today for free. If not your own, then listen to others.
Imagine a story: the story of you between now and the moment you last close your eyes.
The story people will tell at your funeral.
What happens on that story? Are you shuffling paper? Are you serving people who don’t deserve you? Are you friends with temporary people who will gossip behind your back?
Are you taking orders from the masters?
When you were a child, you wanted to draw and to write and to act and to make people laugh.
How long will you postpone that until it is too late.
How long were these hands that were made to create beauty, be stunted in their growth while they create nothing?
Before we were five, we were free from the wounds of our parents, our lovers, our peers.
And then we became infected with their open, emotional wounds that they got from their parents and friends.
Once we got infected, we began to live their lives. Their pains, their wounds and diseases. Their fears.
Now is the chance to cure ourselves. To live the life we want. To ignite once again your creativity. To break free from the life of prison and horror.
Every day, I wake up and hope I can do it.
To make people laugh. To make people delight and love. To create and feel that pleasure of creation.
I don’t want to die today. I want to live the life I always dreamt I would live.
James Altucher has built and sold several companies, and failed at dozens more. He’s written fourteen books, and The Rich Employee is the book to RULE THEM ALL. (Although he is also fond of The Choose Yourself Guide to Wealth, The Power of No & Choose Yourself.) He’s an investor in twenty different companies. He writes every day. He doesn’t have enough friends. Still interested in knowing him? Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.
Image courtesy of Bench Accounting.