Growing up we’re told that, “You can’t always have what you want.” We live with the hope that we will achieve some degree of success, but know that some dreams are beyond our reach. When faced with a choice, we base our decisions on these hopes while often staying grounded in reality.
Some of those choices we make as entrepreneurs are more difficult than others. The choice to be an entrepreneur is a daring decision in and of itself. It goes against what many have told us as we grew up: keep a steady job, don’t take too big of risks, follow your dreams so long as you can make a living from them, etc.
But the time you have here is yours. The choices you make are yours. Once you realize that you can choose the life you want, suddenly those choices become more valuable. No matter how often people urge you to choose one path over another, you still hold the power over your destiny.
When you need the inspiration to keep moving forward with your choices, look to this man’s example. He’s proven that while not all our choices are the wisest, if they come from our heart, we can make the most of them.
The Choice to Go After a Dream
Well-known entrepreneur, venture capitalist and author James Altucher found his success by choosing a life that he wanted. It’s what all hopeful entrepreneurs dream of. He says, “My goal every day is to fill my day with as many of my own choices as possible. I don’t want other people to choose for me.”
Living in this way has given Altucher the freedom to try new things, and become enormously successful in several industries. This doesn’t mean, though, that his choices have always lead to positive results.
An expert in the field of finance, Altucher got to where he’s at only after he “made every mistake in the book.” He began his career on a very traditional path. He went to college, graduated, found a corporate job, and worked 9 to 5. At his first job out of school, Altucher felt creatively constrained. He wanted to experiment with new ideas and new technologies. He wanted freedom, but was repeatedly told to do things the way they had always been done, in constant fear of being fired or demoted.
Now Altucher admits that this was the worst advice he’s ever gotten, to “stick to what’s worked before.” He tried to do this for a while, but knew he wanted more.
Have you ever felt this way?
Rather than start over completely, Altucher kept his job and began his business on the side, making websites for Fortune 500 companies. Following his initial success, Altucher sold the business and made millions.
However, he also made some critical mistakes that nearly kept him down for good. Gradually he lost nearly all his money in failed investments and careless spending. Altucher’s family life suffered, too, when he and his wife divorced in the midst of this financial turmoil. After having it all, he had nothing.
The Choice to Rise Again
Looking back, Altucher sees that he let his mistakes “take over my life for too many years.” He was filled with anxiety and anger over the choices he made, rather than choosing to move on.
Until he tried again.
“I REALLY JUST WANTED FREEDOM IN MY LIFE…[AND] I WANTED TO FIGURE OUT HOW TO MAKE THAT HAPPEN.” – JAMES ALTUCHER
This time around, with no other place to go, Altucher began again by piggybacking on others’ success. He started up some hedge funds, being more careful with where he put his investments, and wrote down about his experiences to share with others who were looking for financial freedom.
He’s since made millions again, becoming a best-selling author and financial mentor to thousands. His remarkable comeback is an inspiration to any who have failed, and it all started with a choice.
The Choice to “Choose Yourself”
One of his most popular books, “Choose Yourself,” centers on some of the key lessons Altucher learned through all of this. The premise of the book is simple: “If you don’t choose the life you want to live, chances are, someone else is going to choose it for you. And the results,” Altucher adds, “are probably not going to be pretty.”
Choice. Your success, your failures and your life are all the results of the choices you make. You can choose to make the choices others have chosen, or the choices they think best for you. Or, you can choose to decide for yourself.
Altucher says, “I began to realize something: success in today’s world ONLY happens [when] you choose yourself…When I began to understand that, little by little, I started to pull myself off the floor.”
What does he mean by, “choose yourself?” Altucher sees it as a very loose definition. For some it means choosing to be financially stable. For others it means choosing a lifestyle that gives them security and time with those they love. It could mean choosing to live in a luxury house, or a small one. To work up the corporate ladder, or to build a new ladder to success. Whatever the choice, it needs to be yours.
Altucher suggests looking deep within yourself to uncover what it is you want, and then to have the courage to choose that life.
The Choice is Yours
There is a definite power in the choices you have. Others, sometimes without meaning to, may attempt to deprive you of those choices by replacing them with their own. Remember that their path is not your own. You can glean habits and principles you want to adopt from others, but don’t let them keep you from finding the track that will work best for your enterprise.
Entrepreneurs who accept flexibility in their plans become more resilient when plans change and new opportunities arise, better than the ones they started with. So it was for Altucher, and so it can be for you.
“OVER TIME YOU CAN START TO MAKE DECISIONS THAT WEED OUT NEGATIVE CHOICES FOR YOURSELF AND HAVE MORE AND MORE POSITIVE CHOICES.” – JAMES ALTUCHER
“I only say what has worked for me,” Altucher remarks, “then others can choose to try it or not.” Your life doesn’t have to be like Altucher’s to be successful, in fact it shouldn’t. Your life should be yours to make.
Remember the choice is always yours. Never deny yourself of the gift of choice. Seize it and make something of it, something you want.