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One Way of Abolishing Risk

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(This is a guest post by Everett Bogue the author of The Art of Being Minimalist and blogger at Far Beyond The Stars.)

Julien wrote a post a few weeks ago that breaks down the essential elements of any success story: Cultural Transparency ÷ Risk = Upward Mobility.

Hopefully this guest post can help expand on the idea and enable you pursue what’s important to you.

Here’s what I’ve been thinking since reading that post: it’s a lot easier to take risks if you have less to lose.

It doesn’t matter if your goal is to spend a few months gatejumping, or you’re putting all of your effort into achieving escape velocity. If you have a lot to lose, you’ll inevitably sabotage yourself, leading to failure and an inevitable return to the status-quo.

Alright, so how do you position your life so you have less to lose?

It’s almost deceptively simple: eliminate life overhead to enable success.

Most people get out of college, get a day job that pays a little more than they need to survive and then proceed to accumulate as much as possible as quickly as they can. The house with too many rooms, the new car every two years, new gadgets every three weeks, and an entertainment system the size of their living room wall.

There’s nothing wrong with this picture for most people. This is what they’ve been told they want, so they buy into that system.

The thing is, maintaining a life like that becomes expensive quite quickly. All too soon you have the be making $6,000 a month in order to keep all of your expensive plates spinning.

Being required to spend that much is a 100% guarantee that you’ll never take risks again, and thus will stay comfortably stuck in your current place in society with no upward mobility.

In order to escape this reality, you need to opt-out (maybe even temporarily) in order to be able to take the risks you need to take in order to build a better life.

How do I know this? Because I did it. One year ago I was trapped in a job that bored me, in a city I was tired of, working 40-50 hours per week for a paycheck that barely covered my expenses. So, naturally I quit in order to pursue living a location independent life. One year later I live and work from anywhere and I’ve doubled my income.

Obviously you might not care much for living and working from anywhere, that’s just one goal. You might want to write a book, train to be a yoga teacher, or make time to go to the beach more often.

So many people fail at it for one simple reason: when they quit the job they don’t eliminate their life overhead. This makes it impossible to take risks.

If your life costs $6,000 a month, and you suddenly quit your job to pursue what’s important to you, you’ll quickly drown. If your life costs $1,000 a month, you’ll be able to risk it all in order to build a better life.

It all comes down to flexibility in lifestyle choices in order to study cultural transparency and take risks. If you aren’t flexible, you can’t make the changes you need to adapt to a new world.

How to reduce your life overhead in order to succeed at risk taking.

1. Track and then eliminate all unessential spending. Everything needs to go. Sell your house, your car, move to a walkable city with public transportation (yes, these places exist.) Stop shopping for stuff you don’t need, buying things won’t make you happy anyway.

2. Eliminate all obligations. Time is your number one asset, and you can’t risk it if you’re constantly busy doing things you don’t care about. Tell everyone that you have too much going on and you need to stop doing so much, repeat for everything until you have an open schedule.

3. Start dedicating your time to achieving what’s important to you. Learn about harnessing success systems by studying the cultural transparency that’s becoming more accessible to everyone because of the Internet. Then, start investing your 100% free time to taking the risks necessary to move to the next level.

Once you do these things the question becomes so much easier. Why not take risks? You have nothing to lose.

* Filed by Julien at 8:34 am under risk


Hi, I’m Julien Smith. I'm the founder and CEO of Breather.

Check out more of my blog, my free book or add me on twitter. Also, we're hiring. Check that out.

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12 Responses to “One Way of Abolishing Risk”

  1. John McLachlan Says:

    My dad always said “What you don’t spend, you don’t have to earn.”

  2. Michael Bigger Says:

    In finance we call this low delta with high vision and high delta with low vision.

    Interesting to see a guy like Jeff Bezos leaving a high paying Wall Street job to create Amazon.

    The most talented people always have elevated opportunity costs. I guess that creates a different dynamic. Maybe not.

  3. Abolish risk | Business is Personal Says:

    [...] Here’s one way to abolish risk. [...]

  4. Colleen Clifford Says:

    I think the need to “look successful” is ultimately what holds many people back from actually *being* successful. It’s that $6000 overhead that they can’t let go of, those trappings that have meaning in other people’s eyes more so than their own.

    The “safety” we seek in social approval and conforming to the system is a mirage – and a potentially dangerous path to take. If we start worrying less about what we have to lose, we can start focusing more on what we have to gain.

    Excellent post.

  5. Maybe you should just stop being a fucking pussy Says:

    [...] Are you afraid of looking stupid, or going broke? [...]

  6. Mark Says:

    Good advice, but harder to implement when you’re responsible for others (i.e., family, kids, etc.) Never-the-less, a chance to lead by example and focus on what’s truly important!

  7. Rick Wolff Says:

    One reason I’d like to boost my income (actually, at this moment, GET an income) is to get out of some stupid credit card debt my wife and I accumulated early in our marriage, to which we haven’t added in about 10 years, and have whittled down in that time, until I lost my job. To lower my risk, should I declare bankruptcy? That’s how I’m interpreting what you’re saying.

  8. Nate Dodson Says:

    It works. I even went so far as to cancel my cell phone for several months. It gave me the creative space to be able to complete four small business projects simultaneously.

  9. The Minimalists | Essays Says:

    [...] your home was foreclosed, then find a small apartment, reduce your expenses, and live a simpler [...]

  10. The Secret of Ultra-Mobility Without Owning a Car | Far Beyond The Stars: The Archives Says:

    [...] Oh! And don’t forget to check out my guest post on Julien Smith’s (co-author of Trust Agents) blog: One Way to Abolish Risk. [...]

  11. Stop Being a Fucking Pussy « exFEARiments Says:

    [...] Are you afraid of looking stupid, or going broke? [...]

  12. What would you risk to gain it all? | Says:

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