To work only four hours per week and still lead a life of adventure and luxury - Tim Ferriss says you can do it, in his book «The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich».
This is Part 2 of my series on T4HWW. An overview of the series can be found here.
Redefine yourself - the Definition
All personal change begins in your head. Tim Ferriss's approach to it is quite radical. Comparing a conventional livestyle to the new one he promotes, he's carving out the steps of the change process: question popular «truths», defeat fears of change and finally a «system reset» for life.
«New Rich» versus «Deferrers»
What's different in the lives of the «New Rich» (NR) compared to those of the «Deferrers» (D)?
- Deferrers work arduously untl their «retirement» - their goal is to shorten the time until they retire. The New Rich spice up their lives with frequent mini-retirements - they want to enjoy life when they're still physically fit.
- Deferrers want to work for themselves, New Rich want to have others work for them. Deferrers want to become bosses, the New Rich neither want to be bosses nor employees, but owners.
- Deferrers play by the rules, always. The New Rich question popular assumptions.
Everything popular is wrong
If everyone is defining a problem or solving it one way and the results are subpar, this is the time to ask, What if I did the opposite? (Tim Ferriss)
That's a good summary of Tim's motivation for re-defining some terms. According to him, there are lots of not-so effective, not-so healthy popular «truths»:
- Busy-ness is mistaken for productivity. Excessive overtime is considered admirable, less working hours as a symptom of lazyness, independent of the respective results. Permanent disstress seems to enoble people, although it makes them sick, literally.
- The time is never right for taking any risk, there are always good «reasons» against it..
- Instead of utilizing personal strengths to the maximum, people waste their lives on the improvement of their weaknesses.
- Not the relative income (income per hour of work) matters, but absolute income. Even if excessive working hours suck out all of the energy.
- More money, as a goal, is the safest way to avoid thinking about your real goals: what will you do should you actually have all that money, when you don't need to work anymore?
- Asking for permission by default means to be confronted with naysayers by default.
Defeating your fears of change takes...
..well: courage. Tim recommends a sober look at the worst case, to build momentum:
- How big are the risks and potential damages really, if change my lifestyle to what I desire and fail (once)? What are the chances and the rewards if I succeed?
- Is there really no chance (as «everybody» says) to recover, if something goes wrong? What would I do to revive myself? Wouldn't that be possible? Really?
- Is my life better than one year ago / 5 years ago, as I keep telling myself? Or is that just an excuse for inactivity?
- If 10 years of inactivity do an irreversible damage to my life, and essentially represent wasted lifetime, doesn't this loss look like the real risk?
Tim Ferriss doesn't downplay fears. E.g., as he writes, he's taking part in the usual old-age provisions programs, and he is saving money for later, too. But he considers this more to be an insurance against the worst case, not as the grand plan.
System Reset - the new life
Unrealistic goals are easier to achieve than realistic ones. Why? There is a fierce competion among all the realistic people who have realistic goals.
How do you find, then, what makes you happy? «What do you really want?» or «What are your goals in life?» are blanket questions that don't help a lot. Many people wouldn't be able to find a realistic answer, and even if they were, the answers would be given from a quandary state of mind. And «happiness» isn't an answer, either.
Tim Ferriss suggests the following:
Excitement is the more practical synonym for happiness, and it is precisely what you should strive to chase. It is the cure-all. (Tim Ferriss)
To have something will excite you only for a short time. To be something (an excllent cook, a fabulous dancer, ...) or to do something (sailing the Aegean sea, making new friends, ...) will give you longer-lasting excitement. To make such dreams a reality may be less expensive than you think - or currenty spend on having things.
Dreamlining (dreams + timeline) is Tim's term for his 6- and 12-months' plans. He chooses four of his dreams of having, being, doing something and he realizes them. Costs? Tim's calculation:
- monthly costs for the four dreams,
- plus his other monthly expenses,
- plus 30% of his other monthly expenses (e.g., for a savings plan)
That sum is referred to as Target Monthly Income (TMI). If you discover less Having, and more Being and Doing dreams, your new lifestyle may eve be cheaper than your existing one.
My impression, so far
To me, the most important part of the re-definition seems to be the System Reset.
Tim Ferriss is criticized a lot for promoting a lifestyle that, allegedly, is only for people who live alone (plus, in the western hemisphere) and enjoy good health.
What gets ignored here: individual dreams of Having, Being, and Doing result in individual lifestyles. His book abounds with stories of senior people who realize their dreams their way. Especially the focus on Being and Doing instead of Having allows you a healthy distance from the rat race for money.
If you can't remember when you felt excitement for the last time or what you would like to be or do to feel it again, then it's time to think about that.
To be continued...
Coming soon: Tim Ferriss' The 4-Hour Workweek (3/5): Less is more - Elimination. There is also an overview on the series.
[Update: The third part of the series is available: «Tim Ferriss' The 4-Hour Workweek (3/5): Less is more - the Elimination». There is also an overview on the series.]