What Happens When You Decide To Change


People hate you. First. And you feel uncomfortable, scared, stuck, different.

Why do people hate you? I’ll just give you some examples.

A) They hate your new opinions

I wrote my opinion on why kids should not go to college.

How I think college is a waste of four years, a waste of a ton of money, and there are so many more exciting things to do in today’s day and age.

This is just an opinion. If opinions were laws then we’d all be dead by now. I tell people, do what you want, this is just my opinion.

My own daughters are grappling with their decisions about college. I will offer them good alternatives. But still, they will be adults. So we’ll see.

But one friend of mine, who went to an Ivy League school, has a great job, and won the Pulitzer Prize, stopped speaking to me.

Her last message to me was when she got her job – “I never would have gotten this job if I didn’t go to X”.

Which is true. The job she has is known for hiring people from high-end schools. Whether or not this is a good or bad thing, I have no opinion.

But I loved her. And she stopped talking to me and I miss her.

2. I wrote an article where I stated I could never justify sending my two daughters to a war.

There are no conditions at all where I would send my daughters to war. Zero.

One friend of mine stopped speaking to me. We had been close friends for 23 years. We had worked together. We had really been in the trenches together. If we were in the same town, we’d live together.

I noticed he had stopped speaking to me. So I called him. “Hey, what’s up?”

He said, “You’re for slavery. I can’t speak to you anymore.”

I said, “What!? Why would you say that. Of course I am not for slavery.”

He said, “If you are against all wars then you are against the Civil War and I am obviously darker than you so you then approve of me being a slave.”

I said, “That is ridiculous. Instead of not speaking to me, why didn’t you just call me and ask me if I want you to be a slave. Or better yet, why not just assume after 20 years of knowing me that I would not approve of slavery.”

“But what about the Civil War. Read X, Y, and Z.” He named various history books.

I said, “I promise to read the books. But I still would never send my daughters to a war. I would go to the war instead of them. But little kids, and anyone under the age of 25 is a little kid, should not shoot at other little kids. They are innocents.”

“Well,” he said, “I guess this is the last time we talk.”

And it was.

3.  I’ve even had death threats because…I wrote a book.

In my book I write about things I see happening today…about a paradigm shift in America, and some people can’t handle it.

I’ve had many people who can’t handle these dramatic changes tell me I don’t know what I’m talking about.  And then, death threats.

Usually these people are frustrated because they’ve spent so much time and money following a dream that simply no longer exists.

As I see it, America’s institutions are desperate and broke. They are doing whatever they can to pay their employees less money.

But on the bright side, they are also losing their power to make choices over you. They have much less say about where you work. What you do. Who gets money for a business. Whose ideas get heard or published.

The world is changing very fast and for many it’s scary.

I was terrified too.

I haven’t had a traditional job or a fixed salary in nearly a decade, and I’ve found dozens of ways to make extraordinary amounts of money, doing things I love.

Here’s something I struggle with though.  Even though I have found success I don’t like to talk about it that much.

Which brings me to my next point…

B) They hate your success

Presumably when you go on the path of change, you are attempting to improve yourself in various ways.

Michelangelo says about his great sculpture “David”: Every block of stone has a sculpture in it and it is the job of the sculptor to find it.

When we are adults, we are like that block. We have to chip away at the programming of our parents, peers, education, government, cultural inhibitions – everything that told we were “not good enough.”

The sculpture inside is the real you. The authentic you.

If you take any successful habit, and simply practice that habit for a few minutes a day, you will change. You will become more successful.

You can try and see. Let’s pick a random habit. Hmmm…. do an act of kindness each day. Or be grateful each day.

As one reporter said to me, “Don’t these things seem trivial?”

“Yes!” I said. It’s not like I’m charging $10,000 to say something so simplistic.

The reporter seemed disappointed. As if wisdom should have complexity.

The whole idea of wisdom (I suspect) is that the simpler the better.

In any case, try that habit every day for a month. 100% chance you will feel more content in your life, and chances are the results will be more success.

Here’s another trivial one: write down ten ideas a day to improve your idea muscle.

Eventually, some idea will latch onto your head and you won’t be able to shake it. You will wake up in the night thinking of it. You will wake up in the morning with ideas expanding it.

You will spend your day figuring out how to execute it. And you will think of more ideas and reach out to more people and your life will be scattered with moments of immense well-being as you pursue this dream.

Anyway, try it.

My point is: I did this and then it worked and there are always people who enjoyed your failure, but can’t stand to see you in a different phase of life.

It’s like someone who likes you with long hair but refuses to talk to you if you shave your head.

By the way, it’s not the neighbor down the street who hates you for success. They couldn’t care less.

It’s often your closest family members, friends, colleagues, professors, and so on. Not all of them. Some of them.

They will latch onto one wrong thing you do and say, “I never want to deal with you again.”

A few IMPORTANT tips:

  • You can’t ask “Why?” because they will never tell you.
  • You can’t argue.
  • You must never contact the person again. They are gone and any contact will only bring you down.

[RELATED: 20 Habits Of Eventual Millionaires]

C) More people love you

99.99% of people are what I call “civilians”. They live the civilian life. I have no complaints against them. Often I am jealous of them.

They go to work. They have their families. They argue politics or sports of whatever. Sometimes heatedly.

They live the lives that would make their families and colleagues and schools and governments proud.

They often dress in a uniform. Like a suit. They take the train at the same time each day. They go to sleep at the same time.

Our genes right now are the same as they were 40,000 years ago. But there’s no evidence that humans had schedules where they did the same things at the same times 40,000 years ago.

We didn’t evolve into standardization.

We were forced there by the demands of both the industrial revolution (which required factory workers to be assimilated into the same replaceable humans) and the machines of war, which require everyone to march in place to the melodies of John Phillip Sousa.

Once you remove yourself from this standardization, you are not a civilian anymore.

You are an explorer. A wanderer.

The explorer can fail. The wanderer can get lost. The exile can get lonely.

But the world suddenly becomes much larger. The comfort zone expands into the much bigger curiosity zone.

And the people who are no longer civilians turn out to be a much bigger group than you thought. And you will embrace them and say, “I feel good to be here.”

This will happen when you change. This will happen when you begin your change.

But it’s not really about change. And it’s not about finding who you really are. It’s about getting more lost than ever.

Related reading: 

How to be THE LUCKIEST GUY ON THE PLANET in 4 Easy Steps 

  • julie

    We’re also sort of wired to not want to change our minds, because it’s scary and we feel like we lose control on who we really are….our identity. Why else do we feel the need to closely align to a particular ideology or political belief, even though most of us are probably a mix of different beliefs and views….Because it’s scary to admit you’re not happy, or your mind has changed, or you have changed. And other people get worried when you change, because it means they could change too, and then..who are they?

    When I told people I didnt think Facebook was healthy for me, and I was going to take a 3 month break, they rolled their eyes, ‘everyone uses it!! they said, then finally admitted that they wish they were capable of a break, too. But to fully admit that something isnt working for you isnt easy. Especially when everyone’s doing it too. (social proof) so we tend to just chug along and not delve too deeply into our minds.

    Anyway, your daughters are probably facing lots of social pressure to go to college. I don’t think anyone should go to college unless they’re studying some STEM program, but hey, I don’t make the rules :P

  • Flaudizio Filho

    Thanks James. Changing is hard and some people could be selfish about that. The journey of each one is different and challenger, but each one have to Decide to move going into the dreams and conquest.

  • I just printed out the last chapter of this post and it’s now on my wall, for me to stare at it.

    Thanks James!

  • Elizabeth

    Very true. People who accepted you one way, you fit their narratives. When you change, you disrupt the narrative. People don’t like that, especially when the narrative benefits them – and it always does, that’s why we create them. And it will be the ones closest to you – or so you thought. Great post, James.

  • We define ourselves in part by our relationships I guess, you are such and such’s Father, Brother, Aunt, Partner… so if others change or we change people feel threatened that the relationship is going to change. I think fear is a huge piece of the puzzle unfortunately. I wish it wasn’t so but change in others or ourselves can cause that kneejerk reaction of fear, fear that we or they will not fit in the new context – relationship. Great post, I am really enjoying your writing.

  • Jim Reardan

    I joined the Army when I was a kid. I went to church one Sunday during basic training because I was bored. The soldier priest said God was on our side, not on the enemy’s side.
    That made no sense. Up until then, I had not thought much about why we are brainwashed into believing that killing people is OK if God says it’s OK. After that Sunday, my attitude and beliefs started to change for the better. I no longer wanted to learn how to kill people. But the Army would have seriously punished me if I deserted. So, I honored my enlistment commitment. Fortunately, I was never deployed to a combat role. I didn’t go to war. I didn’t kill anyone.
    There is no good reason to go to war. You may have lost a friend who thinks war is good for some reasons. But you just made a new friend who thinks you are a great Dad for not wanting to send your kids to war.

    • John Sapp

      Semper Fi has brought a new meaning to me also Jim..Peace

  • Art Sanctum

    Absolutely fantastic. Keep growing as a human being and sharing your insight.

    “People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. When someone is in your life for a reason, it is usually to meet a need you have expressed.They come to assist you through a difficulty, to provide you with guidance and support, to aid you physically, emotionally or spiritually. This may seem like a godsend and they are. They are there for the reason you need them to be. Then, without any wrongdoing on your part or at inconvenient time, this person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end. Sometimes they die. Sometimes they walk away. Sometimes they act up and force you to take a stand. What we must realize is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled, their work is done. The prayer you sent up has been answered and now it is time to move on. ” Robert J. Denise

  • ne2nj

    Your perspective is always inspiring, James. I don’t agree with all of your opinions, but the way you present them is non-threatening and thought provoking. Why a person who was friends with you for a long time would choose to stop speaking to you because of your opinion(s) is baffling, since putting yourself out there for others to learn from is who you are. You are not demanding people agree with you, or ELSE; you are saying here is what I believe and why I believe it. Accept it or don’t accept it. Go do what you want to do and don’t threaten to kill me for expressing my opinion, please.

    I happen to share your opinion about children fighting wars; if there is a cause worth fighting for (and I happen to believe there are such causes, because the world is too complicated for there not to be), the people who espouse and believe in the cause should be the ones doing battle, namely, middle age and older people. They have the so-called wisdom that inspires them and makes them want to take action; they should do the fighting and dying.

    Keep on, James.

  • Michael Carr

    Brilliant James – (and scary) and that’s where my authentic self will show up

  • Michaela Palata

    An incredible article James, thank you for it!

  • anahi andrade

    In this post talk about that
    There is the possibility of changing people with only one action being constant practicing surpassing taking about habits for example the study and about you need in your life if we do this constantly is more likely to be successful so we would have more happy, We can be explorers or vagabonds the explorers can fail and make mistakes but the vagabonds are lost and take other ways which I think that the easiest things do not help us because you can not overcome and understand how high you can get to your best achievements.
    i think that all people must study because with that action we can create a new society with wisdom people and we easily will fin out answers to our problems.

  • I’ve been reading an article from you every day, going through your archives and making notes. This article though, I had to comment, because I love it so much. An important reminder and so fascinating how we lose friends over these kinds of things! It seems ironic that folks ‘give us the silent treatment’ when we speak our minds, go against the grain and say something, well, different.

    Excellent post, James.

  • Always, always thought provoking.

    When you first enunciated the idea about why kids shouldn’t go to college, I just couldn’t find myself in agreement, particularly with kids in the midst. The product of religious education, public schools and Ivy League certainly painted my own perspective, but as I learned from one of my kids, who had terrible college grades “No one cares about your grades, unless you’re going to Graduate School.”

    He didn’t and he has thrived ever since.

    In hindsight, the years in college were wasted, other than for having made personal connections. Still he could have done that by just hanging out

    Fast forward 5 or 6 years, and I now believe that you may very well be right. Many bright kids may be far better served by investing in themselves, rather than investing money, time and their faith in the utility of formal higher education structures.

    My other kid didn’t need college to join the Army, but he received his degree, anyway. I don’t think he has any particular interest in war, but he followed his dream of flying and is now in flight school. His civilian career path could also have come about without college, particularly when you realize that the world is changing so quickly and the skills necessary to compete are so outdated by the time they are taught,

    There will never be a substitute for intelligence, motivation and creativity or the genes and/or environment that promote those attributes.

  • Craig Andrew Cook

    This post put what I was trying to say into words everyone can understand. I guess that’s what makes someone a good writer!

    What you are referring to is schadenfreude. It’s a fascinating topic.


  • Craig Andrew Cook

    what I failed to see was that not only do people not succeed for themselves because they would rather bring others down than do something for themselves. But, there are many people who also do not succeed because they never decide to act because of the fear of this hate that they know will come. sad to see.

    • Craig Andrew Cook

      @jamesaltucher your name sounds like “james ought to share”. this was your calling

  • Josefina Giuffre

    this is SO true!! I started my change a year ago. It has been very challenging, not because of struggling financially now, but because of some of those CLOSEST to me who may have a lot of negativity about it. It is also true some are jealous and stop talking – I had a friend who was supposed to be best friend and after 40 years of friendship she decided to sned me to hell via facebook messenger, no questions asked no conversation no nothing. I think determination has to pair with some thicker skin as we move away from standards and TRY something else. The worse is this stage where i am, the “learning curve” where because I don’t have money, then it looks like not successful. But I’ve been in this before. I did many big changes before. And yes, I did go to school, in another country though, and paid little for it (and I taught afterward for a year). I did learn a lot. For me that is important, to go to college and graduate school (I attended grad school in the US, but my employer paid most of it). That is the issue here. Education is incredibly important, choosing and do trial and error as I did, is also very important (I was first doing acting, then journalism/comm, and finally literature), but it is crucial that the colleges don’t have the costs they have here. I even know Americans who went to graduate school to other countries, because here is impossible to afford. Plus traveling is a more rounded experience than campus. Anyway, This article is excellent. It is true true true. Very inspirational. THANK YOU!!

  • Jamie Makin

    Thank you for turning my day around with this great article, James! As my corporate career nears the end of it’s agonizing death spiral, I have recently taken the first steps of starting the freelance business I have long dreamed of. I would have expected the support and understanding of my closest family and friends, but instead I have been met with discouragement and negativity. This caught me very off-guard! Fortunately I have started to make new friends already working for themselves who are offering the support and encouragement I need. Your articles and books have helped me a lot too! Today’s article helped me focus on tuning out those seeking to drag me down and discourage me. Thank you for your openness and honesty in your writing, and know that is goes a long way to helping people like me.

  • Ken Sloan

    Soo true James, do you know how many people are trying to tell me that crypto is a fad now that i have upgraded to crypto trader lol? I choose myself and I love it and I love your videos and articles, I can’t get enough and find myself staying up late to soak in this new venture…

  • John Sapp

    Mmmmm, thas what I am then, a wanderer in exile curious about everything but attached to nothing. Thank you James for this pleasant reminder as we wander the planet..

  • Pete Davis

    Yup, couldn’t agree more. About 16 months ago, my mom died and I realized it was time to change some shit, big time, in my life. And it started with my family.

    It involved setting big time boundaries, and unfortunately, cutting out a brother who has been totally nasty to me and deserved to go a long time ago.

    It’s often those most close to you who are most threatened by you changing, and this was the case with me. Fortunately, I had the support of my sister in law, who’s been wonderful, and after about a year of battling with my siblings and father, they’ve finally accepted (perhaps begrudgingly) that things are going to be different. And to be honest, I’m not as close to them as I once was, because when you change and others around you don’t, this naturally happens.

    But this is where the magic starts, bc it’s been a wonderful transformation that’s just getting started. My life is so much better than it was a year ago and continuing to get even better. I have better relationships both personally and professionally, more opportunities and just feel way better about myself.

    Yeah, change is tough, but such is life. Sometimes it sucks and you’ve just gotta take it, bust through your own resistance so that you can emerge much more powerful and badass than you ever were before.

    Sadly, most people lack the courage and grit to do it. Only those who want a better life will walk this path.