I hope not to become one of those assholes who reads one book and then starts quoting it incessantly, insisting it totally transformed his life. But expect me to start dropping gems from Tim Ferriss’s The Four Hour Work Week more often.
Ferris builds his book around one of those theses that’s so radical it seems obvious: true wealth is measured not in your income or capital, but in how much time you can spend doing what you love. Right now, the human race sits at the richest point in its history – even this past week hasn’t taken it all away – and yet we still search for ways to create more work rather than less. Ferriss proposes that instead of waiting 40 years to retire, you structure your life so you can enjoy your retirement plans all the time.
He breaks it down into four remarkably detailed steps:
Definition: Decide what you really want to do with your life. Find ways to avoid pessimism and fear. Stop considering money the sole benchmark of satisfaction.
Elimination: Cut out or streamline the least efficient parts of your work week. Find the 20% of your effort that generates 80% of your results and get rid of everything else.
Automation: Find a new source of income doing something that interests you. Automate and outsource as much of it as you can. Continue streamlining and minimizing until you can handle a week’s worth of work with four hours of phone calls.
Liberation: Take advantage of global connectivity to conduct your business anywhere on the planet. Avoid vacation packages targeted at consumers; immerse yourself in a foreign environment instead and really live.
This is not the book that says “cut back on lattes and save the difference in your 401(k).” Saving’s important, but it’s not the way out of the rat race. This is not the book that says “start your own business to achieve financial independence.” You can spend 40 hours a week in your home office just as easily as in a corporate office. This isn’t the book that says “quit your job and live off your parents while playing video games”; putting your income stream in someone else’s hands will never set you free.
This is the book that says “start working from home, forward your phone calls to a Skype account, fly to Berlin, rent a decent apartment, and start exploring. Everything you want to do with your life is within your reach right now.”
I won’t bore you with the details of what I’m doing with this book. But anyone who’s listened to me talk for more than 45 minutes at a stretch knows that I fear losing time more than anything else. This book has given me the tools to start taking it back.