63 Life-Changing Quotes on Lifestyle Design

Tim Ferriss’ The 4-Hour Workweek has created quite a buzz recently in the blogosphere. As you might have known, the book focuses on lifestyle design, which is designing your dream lifestyle with the least possible effort. It’s not necessary to wait until your retirement to live the lifestyle you want. In fact, doing so might waste 20-40 years of your life. Instead, you can live your dream lifestyle much, much sooner. Of course, you can do so only by having the right attitude, strategies, and tactics.

In this post, I extract 63 life-changing quotes from the book. They will serve as reminder for you to apply the principles in the book. Be selective and apply what are useful for you. Tailor them to your own needs and situation.

Here they are (with minor wording adjustments):

  1. Life doesn’t have to be so damn hard. It really doesn’t.
  2. People don’t want to be millionaires. They want to experience what they believe only millions can buy.
  3. Reality is negotiable.
  4. Three ingredients of luxury lifestyle design are time, income, and mobility.
  5. Options – the ability to choose – is real power.
  6. Each path begins with the same first step: replacing assumptions.
  7. Less is not laziness. Focus on being productive instead of busy.
  8. If it’s important to you and you want to do it “eventually,” just do it and correct course along the way.
  9. Ask for forgiveness, not permission.
  10. Emphasize strengths, don’t fix weaknesses.
  11. Relative income is more important than absolute income.
  12. Risks weren’t that scary once you took them.
  13. Conquering fear = defining fear.
  14. Define the worst case, accept it, and do it.
  15. What we fear doing most is usually what we most need to do.
  16. Inaction is the greatest risk of all.
  17. Doing the unrealistic is easier than doing the realistic.
  18. The opposite of happiness is boredom.
  19. The question you should be asking isn’t, “What do I want?” or “What are my goals?” but “What would excite me?”
  20. Tomorrow becomes never. No matter how small the task, take the first step now.
  21. The most important actions are never comfortable.
  22. Being busy is often guise for avoiding the few critically important but uncomfortable actions.
  23. Believe it or not, it is not only possible to accomplish more by doing less, it is mandatory.
  24. What you do is infinitely more important than how you do it.
  25. Find your inefficiencies to eliminate them and to find your strengths so you can multiply them.
  26. Slow down and remember this: Most things make no difference.
  27. Lack of time is actually lack of priorities.
  28. Identify the few critical task that contribute most to income and schedule them with very short and clear deadlines.
  29. Simplicity requires ruthlessness.
  30. Ask yourself: “Am I inventing things to do to avoid the important?”
  31. Increased output necessitates decreased input.
  32. Practice the art of nonfinishing. Stopping something is often 10 times better than finishing it.
  33. Learn to be difficult when it counts.
  34. Do not work harder when the solution is working smarter.
  35. People are smarter than you think. Give them a chance to prove themselves.
  36. “No” should be your default answer to all requests.
  37. Fun things happen when you earn dollars, live on pesos, and compensate in rupees.
  38. Eliminate before you delegate.
  39. It is more profitable to be a big fish in a small pond than a small undefined fish in a big pond.
  40. The so-called expert with the most credibility indicators is the one who will sell the most product, not the one with the most knowledge of a topic.
  41. Don’t ask people if they would buy – ask them to buy.
  42. Our goal isn’t to create a business that is as large as possible, but rather a business that bothers us as little as possible.
  43. The biggest timesaver of all is customer filtering.
  44. Those who spend the most complain the least.
  45. Perceived size does matter.
  46. It isn’t enough to think outside the box. Thinking is passive. Get used to acting outside the box.
  47. The new mantra is this: Work wherever and whenever you want, but get your work done.
  48. Getting what you want often depends more on when you ask for it than how you ask for it.
  49. Being able to quit things that don’t work is integral to being a winner.
  50. Don’t confuse the complex with the difficult. Most situations are simple – many are just emotionally difficult to act upon.
  51. There are options. There are always options.
  52. Fortune favors the bold.
  53. Learn to slow down.
  54. The biggest risk in life wasn’t making mistakes but regret: missing out on things.
  55. For big questions, if you can’t define it or act upon it, forget it.
  56. There are two components that are fundamental to enjoy life and feel good about yourself: continual learning and service.
  57. Service is an attitude.
  58. Slowing down doesn’t mean accomplishing less; it means cutting out counterproductive distractions and the perception of being rushed.
  59. Recapturing the excitement of childhood isn’t impossible. In fact, it’s required.
  60. Mistakes are the name of the game in lifestyle design.
  61. Focus on great for a few things and good enough for the rest.
  62. Happiness shared in the form of friendships and love is happiness multiplied.
  63. Life is not a race. Do take it slower.


  1. thanks for the list.. very inspirational!.

  2. Thanks for sharing these ideas. What do you think of the book overall – is a 4 hour work week something you are now working towards? Do you think this “lifestyle design” is achievable for the majority of folks.

  3. @cottage:
    Thanks, cottage! Anyway, my part is just extracting the quotes 🙂

    Great questions, rob. After thinking about it for a while, I think it could make an interesting discussion, so I will respond in a new post.

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  12. Busyness is not your friend!

    Choose your battles!

  13. I am actually trying to LIVE this book. The warning on the back is real: “Do not read this book unless you want to quit your job.” Actually, I didn’t necessarily *want* to, but despite the fact that I am a work-at-home (and from across the country) employee, I couldn’t get them to bend.
    Regardless, my last day is Friday (8/1), and I am off on a 13-week solo backpacking European tour starting the next week (8/4). I get back in November. Do you think Tim Ferriss would give me a job? 😉
    I 100% agree that the most important actions are never comfortable. Be well!

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  15. These quotes are perfect! I love the inspiration they offer especially as I prepare for my next step in life!

    My husband and I leave on September 30th to backpack to various countries around the world for a year or so.

    As we have been planning for our adventure we have been updating a blog. http://www.nomadbackpackers.com We would love to have other opinions, ideas, encouragement, advice, helpful tips, and more left as comments.


  16. Natalie,
    Looks like that will be a great adventure! I’m sure you will enjoy the time.

  17. #46!!!!!!

    That’s the best one.

  18. Thank you for sharing these quotes and to have them all in one place. I love #52…boldness!

    Many blessings to all,

    Art Gonzalez
    Check my Squidoo Lens at: Quantum Knights

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  20. I appreciate your effort to put all the quotes from the book. My favourite one is: “The so-called expert with the most credibility indicators is the one who will sell the most product, not the one with the most knowledge of a topic.”
    What about experts who sell dreams about selling but the only things they sold are dreams about selling? 🙂

  21. All empowered human beings should work diligently at creating a Life lived on their terms. Tim Ferriss has been helpful in pushing those ideas forward, and these quotes are a great reason why. Thanks for sharing–I’ll be acting on them.

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  23. Pretty good run down of the quotes.

  24. This is an amazing post….

    I just started my lifestyle design, and this is so inspiring. I am going to keep this open and refer to it whenever I need that spark.


  25. I loved the book and I really enjoyed these quotes you pulled out. Thank you.

    Oli HIlle
    “Creating the Perfect Lifestyle”

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