The Four Hour Work Week
by Tim Ferriss
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The 4-Hour Work Week – by Tim Ferriss
The 4 Hour Work Week is about original thinking and living on your own terms. Most people growing up are presented with the options:
A) getting a job and working your ass off until you retire, or
B) working your ass off building a business, working 80 hours a week
This book presents Option C -Lifestyle Design.
The four hour work week suggests that both of the typical options involve deferring happiness and enjoyment until we get the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow – either we sell our company for millions of dollars or we retire with millions of dollars in savings. Instead, the New Rich aim for excitement and profit throughout their whole lives, having the freedom and options to live like a millionaire even without a million dollars in the bank. This book is about optimising your life and work to get the most out of life.
This book featured in our ‘Top 50 Best Books of All Time’ document, grab it for free here: https://whatyouwilllearn.com/top50/
The Four Hour Work Week Summary
Most options you are presented growing up involved either getting a job and working your ass off to retire safely, or work your ass off building a business working 80 hours a week. The Four Hour Workweek presents option C. Lifestyle design. The concept of lifestyle design as a replacement for multi staged career planning is sound. Why work so hard in the first place? Enjoy your time now and live life on your own terms.
The New Rich are those who abandon the ‘deferred life plan’ and create luxury lifestyles in the present using the currency of the new rich: time and mobility. Life doesn’t have to be so damn hard. It really doesn’t. What is the pot of gold that justifies spending the best years of your life hoping for happiness in the last?
You don’t want a million dollars. You want what a million dollars can give you. So the question is then, how can one achieve the millionaire lifestyle of complete freedom without first having the million? The common sense rules of the “real world” are a fragile collection of socially reinforced illusions. This book will teach you to see and seize options that others do not.
Much of what The Four Hour Work Week recommends will seem impossible and even offensive to common sense. Resolve now to test the concepts as an exercise in lateral thinking. If you try you will see how deep the rabbit hole goes and you won’t look back.
Step 1 – D is for Definition
The New Rich retire early or young, decide to distribute mini retirements and adventures throughout their career and recognize that inactivity is not the goal. It’s doing what excites you. It is about buying all the things you want to have, to do the things you want to do and be the things you want to be. To have the freedom from doing that which you dislike, never reverting to work for works sake.
The blind quest for cash is a fool’s errand. You can charter private planes over Buenas Aires, best wines of the world in between world class ski runs and live like a king by an infinity pool at a private villa. Being financially rich and having the ability to live like a millionaire are fundamentally two different things. Money is multiplied by the W’s: what you do, when you do it, where you do it and with whom you do it. The more of these you can control the more practical value your money has. Using this new criterion, the 80 hour work week, 500K/year investment banker is less powerful than the NR who works 1/4 the hours for 40K / year but has the complete freedom of when, where, and how to live. The 500K may be worth less than the 40K when we run the numbers and look at the lifestyle output of their money.
Who are the new rich? The employee who rearranges his schedule to work remotely 90% of the time. The business owner who eliminates the least profitable customers and outsources work entirely. The student who elects to risk it all (which is nothing) to establish an online video rental service that delivers 5K/month, allowing her to work full time as an animal rights lobbyist.
Options are limitless, but each path begins the same. Replacing these in built assumptions:
Retirement is worst case scenario insurance. Retirement as a goal or final redemption is flawed for at least 3 reasons. ii) Most people will never be able to retire , math doesn’t add up (life expectancy and what you’ll really have left).
- Iii) If it does add up, it is probably because you are one ambitious working machine. If that is the case, one week into retirement you’ll be bored.
- i) It is predicated on the assumption you dislike what you are doing during the most physically capable years of your life.
- Interest and energy are cyclical, you need rest. New rich distribute mini retirements
- Less is not laziness. You should focus on being productive instead of busy
- The timing is never right. For all the important things the timing always sucks. Waiting for a good time to quit your job? The stars will never align. The universe doesn’t conspire against you, but it doesn’t go out of the way to help you either. “Someday” is a disease that will take your dreams to the grave with you.
- Ask for forgiveness, not permission. If the potential damage is moderate or in any way reversible, don’t give the chance for people to say no.
- Relative income is more important than absolute income. A dollar isn’t a dollar: 1$ in South America isn’t the same in Aus or US
Conquering Fear = Defining Fear
People wake up to the same dread on the Monday morning, of the buzzing alarm thinking – “I have to do this for another 40-50 years?”. Think of the worst case scenario of going for what you want instead. Most people will choose unhappiness over just a little bit of uncertainty. Pure hell forces action, but anything less can be endured with enough clever rationalization.
Your life is going to be LONG. Doing a 9-5 your whole working life for 40-50 years is a long ass time if the rescue doesn’t come. Unlike the four hour work week.
Define the worst case scenario of what you are trying to do. Say it’s to take a big risk pursue something closer to your interests. The worst case scenario might be you move back home until you find a new job picking up where you left off, this might be a 5/10. But there might be huge upside potential – a 9/10. .
What are you putting off out of fear? Tim suggests “what we fear most is usually what we most need to do. Resolve to do one thing every day that you fear. A persons success in life can be measured of the uncomfortable conversations she is willing to have”. What is it costing you to postpone action? What are you waiting for?
It’s lonely at the top, 99% of people in the world are convinced that they are incapable of achieving great things, so they aim for the mediocre. The level of competition is thus fiercest for the ‘realistic’ goals, paradoxically making them the most time intensive and energy consuming. It is easier to pick up the perfect 10 at a bar than it is to go after the five potential mates who are an 8. The fishing is best where the fewest go and the collective insecurity of the world makes it easy for people to hit home runs while everyone else is aiming for base hits. There is much less competition for bigger goals.
The most important actions are never comfortable. Fortunately, there is a way to condition yourself to discomfort and overcome it. The only way to get where you want to be is to change who you are. Don’t expect to be the same and get different results.
Step 2 – E is for Elimination
Being busy is most often used as a guise for avoiding the few critically important uncomfortable actions. The options are almost limitless for creating busyness. For most corporates, even if you work 10 hours a week and produce twice the results of those working 40, the collective request will be work 40 hours a week and produce 8 times the results. This is an endless game you want to avoid.
Doing something unimportant well doesn’t make it important. Requiring a lot of time to complete doesn’t make a task important. From this moment remember what you do is infinitely more important than how you do it. Effectiveness is doing the things that gets you closer to your goals. Efficiency is performing a given task in the most economic manner possible. Being efficient without regard to effectiveness is the default mode of the universe. This is true for the person who checks email 30 times per day and develops the elaborate system of folder rules and sophisticated techniques for ensuring that each one of those 30 brain farts moves as quickly as possible.
The Pareto Principle:
Pareto’s law can be summarized as follows:
- 80% of the consequences come from 20% of the causes
- 80% of results come from 20% of the effort and time
- 80% of company profits come from 20% of products
Ask yourself: Which 20% of sources are causing 80% of my problems and unhappiness? Which 20% of sources are resulting in 80% of my desired outcomes and happiness? Being selective – doing less – is the path of the productive. You can apply the 80 / 20 to everything. If you had to stop doing 80% of different activities, what would you remove?
The 9-5 Illusion and Parkinson’s Law
The schedule is a collective social agreement and a dinosaur legacy of the results by volume approach. Since we have 8 hours to fill, we fill 8 hours. If we had 15,we’d fill 15. If we have an emergency and suddenly need to leave work in 2 hours put have pending deadlines, we’d miraculously complete those assignments in 2 hours. Parkinson’s law dictates that a task will swell in perceived importance and complexity in relation to the time allotted for its completion. It is the magic of the imminent deadline. This creates a curious phenomenon… There are two approaches for increasing productivity.
- Limit the tasks to the important, to shorten work time (80/20)
- Shorten work time to limit tasks to the important (Parkinsons law)
Step 3 – A is for Automation
“Fun things happen when you earn dollars, life on pesos and compensate in rupees, but that’s just the beginning”
Using a virtual assistant is a simple exercise with no downside. The basics are covered in a 2 – 4 week test costing between 100-400$, it will be repaid in 10 -14 days. Becoming a member of the new rich is not just about working smarter, its about building a system to replace yourself. If you spend your time, say 20-25$ per hour doing something that someone else can do for $10 per hour, it’s simply a poor use of resources.
The Four Hour Work Week shows how you can create a virtual architecture. You can convert services business into a downloadable shippable product. Product is key. The goals of the architecture is cashflow and time, without them nothing is possible.
Step 1: Pick an affordably reachable niche market: Creating demand is hard. Filling demand is easier. Define your customer then make a product for them. If everyone is your customer then no one is your customer.
Step 2 : Brainstorm Products: Pick the two markets that you are most familiar with that have their own magazines with full page advertising that costs less than $5000. Make sure your product is between 50-200 dollars: less units, better customers, less questions.
Step 3: Distribution: You can resell, licence or create a product. It can be either a real product or an information product. You don’t need to be an expert, just better than your target number.
Step 4 – mini test your products: The moral is that intuition and experience are poor predictors of which products and businesses will be profitable. Look at the competition and create a more compelling offer on a basic one to 3 page website, test the offer using Google adwords (3hours, 5 days of passive observation).
Start with the end in mind
An organisational map of what eventual businesses may look like is not new. Our goal isn’t to create a business that is as large as possible, but to create a business that bothers us as little as possible. Tim isn’t in his own organisation chart. He’s not a tollbooth where anything needs to pass. He’s more like a police officer on the side of the road who can step in if he heeds. He uses detailed reports from outsources to ensure that the cogs are moving as he intends.
Step 4 – L is for Liberation
The Four Hour Work Week says “by working faithfully 8 hours a day, you may eventually get to be a boss and work 12 hours a day” and “most people arent lucky enough to get fired and die a slow spiritual death over 30-40 years of tolerating the mediocre”. Whereas most entrepreneurs have most trouble with automation, since they fear giving up control. Employees get stuck on Liberation, because they fear to take control. Resolve to grab the reins, the rest of your life depends on it. Just because you are embarrassed to admit that you’re still living the consequences of decisions made 5,10 20 years ago, shouldn’t stop you from making good decisions now. If you let pride stop you, you will have life for 5, 10, 20 years from now for the same reasons.
The biggest mistake or risk in life isn’t making mistakes but regret. You could never go back and recapture the years of doing something you dislike. “If this is your first time considering the jump to the mobile lifestyle and adventure , I envy you! Making the jump is like upgrading your role from passenger to pilot”