Choose Yourself, by James Altucher

About a year ago, I was in a miserable job and hated life. If someone had offered to shit on my face in exchange for letting me stay home from work, I would have donned scuba gear and said “Bring it on.”

I quietly submitted applications for other positions elsewhere, everywhere. Anywhere but here. Most disappeared into the ether, but I got one invitation to go to Cornell.

Ithaca, New York! The new job would be my savior. I convinced myself that it would be the most wonderful place in the world. Nevermind the fact that I hate the cold.

I’ll put snow tires on my motorcycle, I told myself. I’ll have so much fun.

Cornell became my Mecca. Everything wrong with my life would be fixed as soon as I moved there. But formalities dragged on, and months later, I was still trapped in my original cubicle. My mood became pinned to whether or not I received correspondence from Ithaca that day.

Come on, I begged. Please just send me a contract so I can tell my boss I’m leaving.


And then I couldn’t take it anymore. I was spending most of my days in the bathroom crying and getting nothing done anyway, so I quit. Well, it took two tries. The first time I got scared and backpedaled.

But on the second try I was free. And then I realized that I never even wanted to go to Ithaca. Ithaca sucks. I just wanted somebody to rescue me. Nobody did.

That’s what James Altucher’s Choose Yourself is about. How to get to the point where you don’t need anybody to rescue you, ever. Because you will rescue yourself.


It’s not a long book, and to try to summarize it would be to shortchange it. Here are some lessons that were most meaningful to me:

  • Nobody is looking out for your best interests. Especially not your employer.
  • Fail a lot in life. It’s good. It means you’re attempting a lot of difficult things. See failure as an opportunity to learn.
  • You’ll get rejected a lot. Diversify your targets to soften the blow of rejection.
  • Be honest with everything and everyone in your life.

I wish I had read this book a decade ago.

See Also:
The Altucher Confidential

Note: The author has offered to refund the purchase price of his book for anyone who writes a review. I don’t want my money back. I do want people to read the book. If you buy it and hate it, write a crappy review and send him a bill.


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