10 Key Takeaways from The 4 Hour Workweek by Tim Ferris
10 Key Takeaways from The 4 Hour Workweek by Tim Ferris
Escape the 9-5, live anywhere and join the New Rich
A bold claim, but Tim delivers.
Throughout my secondary school years I disliked English. To get the top marks we would have to read a certain way, write a certain way, and be a certain way. I hated it.
Perhaps my distaste for conformity is why The 4 Hour Workweek resonated with me.
Through his book, Tim has helped me reevaluate my life and aim for greater things. Regardless of whether or not you believe the things Tim covers in the 4 Hour Work Week, I strongly recommend you read it.
Let me know what you think of the book in the comments section below.
Anyways, without further ado, here are my top 10 Key Takeaways from the 4 Hour Workweek by Tim Ferris.
1. The New Rich
Gold is getting old. 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.
Money is infinite, while time is finite. Here’s something to think about.
Let’s say James makes $300,000 per year and Kate makes $50,000 a year. If we said that James makes 6 times what Kate makes, we’d be absolutely correct.
However, James works 12 hour days for 6 days of the week in his office in New York, while Kate only works 10 hours a week wherever she wants.
Kate earns slightly more per hour, but does that mean Kate is richer than James?
Absolutely! She has the freedom of mobility.
The Freedom Multiplier
Money is multiplied in practical value depending on the number of W’s you control in your life: what you do, when you do it, where you do it, and with whom you do it.
Tim calls these four W’s the freedom multiplier. The more of these we control, the richer we are.
In our above example, James doesn’t control anything, his work completely consumes him for 6 days a week. Chances are his only free day is spent resting. James is not free.
Kate on the other hand controls all four W’s. She is free to do whatever she wants.
So, who would you rather be; Kate or James?
I know my answer!
2. DEAL (acronym)
The 4 Hour Workweek is based on this DEAL acronym. DEAL stands for Definition, Elimination, Automation, and Liberation. It is the process of becoming a member of the New Rich.
D is for Definition
Definition turns misguided common sense upside down and introduces the rules and objectives of the new game.
In other words, before we join the New Rich we must understand who they are and how they operate. Tim introduces the idea of lifestyle design.
To get started ask yourself; What do I want? and Why can’t I have it?
E is for Elimination
Increase your per-hour results ten times or more with counter-intuitive New Rich techniques for cultivating selective ignorance(link), developing a low information diet (link), and otherwise ignoring the unimportant.
This section provides the first of the three luxury lifestyle design ingredients: time.
Elimination is all about getting to where you want as fast and efficiently as possible. We also get to learn that retirement is a flawed end goal.(link)
Tim teaches us that by doing less meaningless work, we can focus on things of greater importance.
A is for Automation
Automation puts cash flow on autopilot using geographic arbitrage, outsourcing, and rules of non-decision.
This section provides the second of the three luxury lifestyle design ingredients: income.
Outsourcing our work frees up our time for us to be able to do the things we love.
This is a key part of creating the 4 Hour Workweek lifestyle.
L is for Liberation
The concept of mini-retirements is introduced, as are the means for flawless remote control and escaping the boss.
This section provides the third of the three luxury lifestyle design ingredients: mobility.
This final section of the 4 Hour Workweek gives us the tools and techniques we can use to break the bonds that confine us to a single location.
Becoming location independent is the goal. We’d all be living the dream if we were spending our US earnings in Thailand.
3. Ask for Forgiveness Not Permission
I can’t give you a surefire formula for success, but I can give you a formula for failure: try to please everybody all the time – Herbert Bayard Swope
In order to achieve anything we need start. Before you get started people can be quick to talk you down. However, once you get going people will rarely get in your way.
This is something I resonate with. If I believe in something, I get going. This blog is an example!
4. Less Does Not Equal Lazy
Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect – Mark Twain
Tim’s first job was cleaning in an ice-cream parlor. He got the 8 hour job done in an hour and spend the rest of his time reading comics. Tim was fired by day 3.
Was he being lazy or was he just efficient?
Instead of valuing things based on the time we spend, we should be valuing based on the things we get done.
One question I get asked a lot as a piano teacher is how long should I practice? My answer is always the same: as long as it takes you to get x number of bars perfectly hands together.
While it seems intuitive, you’d be surprised at how foreign this concept is to my students’ parents. They insist on me giving a time duration for their practice.
I guess they have a long way to go before understanding that sometimes less is more.
It’s a great exercise to ask yourself: Am I being productive or just active?
5. Retirement is Flawed
Retirement as a goal or final redemption is flawed for at least three solid reasons
Retirement is not something I had ever properly thought of before. However, Tim has helped me realize that we are in fact working towards a really stupid goal.
Here are the three reasons he covers in the 4 Hour Workweek:
#1 Assumes we don’t like what we are doing
Retirement is meant to be our end to working, the time for us to do whatever we want. So why waste our most physically capable years doing things we dislike?
#2 The Math Doesn’t Work
The cost of living keeps increasing and our money won’t be worth as much in 50 years time. Our ‘golden years’ will become lower-middle class life revisited.
#3 You’ll get bored
If your math does work out, it means you’re an ambitious hard working machine. If that’s the case, you’ll get so bored that you’ll choose to look for a new job or start a company.
6. Pareto’s Law
Pareto’s Law: 80% of the outputs result from 20% of the inputs
To apply Pareto’s Law to your life, 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?
Eliminate the 20% causing your problems and provide the best quality services for the 20% resulting in 80% of your happiness.
That’s exactly what Tim did when running his business. While he lost some ungrateful customers, he actually became many times more profitable.
This is another technique I’ve added to my dealing with people. If I feel someone has negative energy that is dragging me down, I cease contact with them.
As a writer I’ve even turned down gigs worth thousands of dollars just cause we weren’t vibing or I didn’t like their business. Having the freedom of choice is a side effect of applying Pareto’s Law to our daily lives.
I suggest you try it, you’ll feel so free!
7. Getting fired is not a bad thing
Most people aren’t lucky enough to get fired and die a slow spiritual death over 30-40 years of tolerating the mediocre.
Tim considers people who get fired to be lucky. Initially I was shocked at this outlandish statement. But again, I completely agree.
In today’s day and age most people don’t stay at one job for their entire career. Chances are we’ll be switching jobs anyway so why not get a redundancy package in the process?
The slow and spiritual death is another thing Tim talks about a lot in the 4 Hour Workweek. Most of us will not love our jobs but stick at it cause it pays. Getting fired is all the more reason for us to pursue the things we love.
When I first started teaching piano I had an adult student who had just been fired. I couldn’t understand why at the time, but she was delighted. She missed plenty of classes as she traveled the world.
Getting fired gave her the time to do what she always wanted. Now I understand her happiness.
8. Low Information Diet
Let other dependable people synthesize hundreds of hours and thousands of pages of media for you. Ask them for their advice.
This is a super hack from the 4 Hour Workweek. Everyday Tim reads the news headlines to stay in the loop. Then talks to his colleagues if he wants more information.
They would have read the entire articles and he would be giving them a chance to show off what they know. In this way, he saves time reading and strengthens his friendships.
It’s a win win.
I’ve personally used this technique, as Tim suggests, when voting. We had a general election this year and I drew on the minds of my expert friends, and made my vote.
This saved me hours of reading things I don’t understand.
9. Understand What Matters
By working faithfully eight hours a day, you may eventually get to be a boss and work twelve hours a day. – Robert Frost
There is a story in the 4 Hour Workweek that I will remember forever. It is very powerful, and leaves so much to think about. Here’s a short version of the story.
An American businessman takes a vacation to a small fishing village in Mexico on doctor’s orders. There he sees a fisherman unloading his harvest from the sea and is blown away by the quality of the fish. He strikes up a conversation.
The conversation goes like this:
“The quality of your catch is amazing, how long did it take for you to catch them?” the American asked.
“Only a little while,” the Mexican replied in surprisingly good English.
“Why don’t you stay out longer to catch more fish?”
“I have enough to feed my family and give some away to my friends”
“But what do you do with the rest of your time?”
“I sleep late, fish a little, play with my kids, take a siesta with my wife, Julia, and stroll into the village where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life sir”
The American laughs and stands tall. “No, no, no. I’m a Harvard MBA let me tell you how to do this. These fish are so good that if you stayed out a little longer you could catch more. Then you could hire your friends, get a fleet of fishing boats, expand to different cities and run your own fishing enterprise.”
“But what then sir?”
The American laughed and said “That’s the best part! When the time is right you can announce an IPO, sell your company to the public and become very rich. You would make millions.”
“Millions sir, then what?”
“Then you can sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take a siesta with your wife, and stroll into the village to sip wine and play guitar with your amigos…”
The power of this story comes as what the business man thought was the end goal, the fisherman had all along.
So, why do we work so hard? What really matters?
Please let me know in the comments below!
10. Attention is a currency
If you find a crisis in your inbox that can’t be solved until Monday, your weekend isn’t really free even if the email only took you 30 seconds to read.
Again, this is an important concept. As a result of learning this, I limit my time on social media and even the news.
Why let bad news take up all your attention when you can’t do anything about it?
How the 4 Hour Workweek Changed My Life
There are countless ideas in the 4 Hour Workweek that have been invaluable. For example, Would we trade 5 dollars for 2? Then why do we trade 5 days working for a 2 day weekend?
The 4 Hour Workweek challenges the status quo. It is a book that has really changed my life.
I love adventure and travelling. I’ve decided that as soon as I can create some sort of passive income, I’ll begin travelling the world.
If you would like to follow me on this journey of mine, make sure to subscribe to my newsletter for the latest updates!Subscribe
Thank you for reading, and let me know what you think in the comments below.
I strongly recommend the 4 Hour Work Week. If you are interested in purchasing your own copy, I highly recommend book depository. They are the cheapest online book store I’ve found.
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