Ask the Readers: Do You Agree with The 4-Hour Work Week?

In the comment section of my previous post about life-changing quotes from The 4-Hour Work Week (TFHWW), Rob asks:

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?

Since I think it could make an interesting discussion, I decide to respond in a new post.

Personally I think TFHWW is a great book. There are a lot of cool ideas in it which I think are very useful. The quotes I extract in my previous post for example, are great ideas I got from the book.

However, I don’t entirely agree with the book.

Tim Ferriss (the author of the book) wrote that we should ask ourselves “What would excite me?” It’s the answer to this question that would be our dream lifestyle. In my understanding, Tim suggested us to reduce our work hours (to ultimately only 4 hours a week) to free time to do the things that excite us.

But I have different thought here:

What if the thing that excite us and our work are actually the same thing?

Isn’t it possible that we do something that really excite us as our job? Isn’t that what “do what you love” is all about?

I came to this question when I realized – while reading TFHWW – that if I have all the time in the world, I will keep doing what I’m doing now. So the idea of reducing my work hour so that I can do something that excite me doesn’t really make sense to me.

In that case, lifestyle design might not be something as drastic as what is described in TFHWW. If you are doing what you really love as your job, you already live your dream lifestyle. In that case, lifestyle design is no more than arranging your life in such a way that you can keep doing what you love.

There is a quote from Confusius which reflects my opinion well:

Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.

Of course, this is just my opinion and I may miss something. Also, it doesn’t change the fact that there are a lot of useful ideas in the book.

So what do you say? Do you agree with TFHWW or not? Let me (and other readers) know in the comments.

18 Comments

  1. Thanks for the article. I agree with you regarding time spent working – I enjoy my work and the boundries between what would be considered work and the rest of my life are very blurred and usually non-existent. It seems the book does have lots of useful time saving tips which will allow be more time to do what I want to do, but a 4 hour “work week” – no thanks.

  2. I agree Rob, there are a lot of useful tips in the book. Just we need to tailor them to our own needs and situation

  3. I liked Tim’s book a great deal. There’s practical advice in it, even if your goal isn’t to become one of the “New Rich.”

    I do agree with you, however. As a Lifestyle Designer and lover of life, it is my belief that finding happiness and fulfillment is entirely about determining what matters most to you, what excites you, what you’re passionate about, and what you cherish – in whatever form or endeavor that takes – and designing a life and lifestyle in support of those things.

  4. I totally agree, David. Finding what matters most to us should be our starting point in all cases. Everything else, including lifestyle design, follows from that.

  5. Well I haven’t actually read the book, nevertheless it does seem to make sense to focus on finding way’s to do things that your passionate about.

    Personally I escaped the 9-5 LifeStyle, at first working less took some courage because of working lesser hours, did seem to be a risk of earning less money.

    Fortunately It was just the other way arround. Because of working less, I begun earning more! Because the time that I did work it was better quality earning
    me more bonuses. (a Sales Job.)

    Now I use some of my extra time to study some ‘case studies’ of people that made a lot of money on the Internet, infact a ‘Ridiculous amount’ (BTW, you can read about it on my blog.)

    An other book that you might wanna read is “The Lazy Way to Success”, (you can get a few free chapters of the book to get an idea about the book) it shows some principles about how you can achieve more with less effort.

    All the Best,
    HPvD.

  6. Thanks for sharing your experience, HP. It’s great to hear the experience of someone who has escaped the 9-5 lifestyle. Also thanks for the book recommendation, I’ll check it out.

  7. I really liked the book, there are many practical ideas and advice whether for business or just managing your time better.

    While not everyone really wants to escape their work, it’s great to see that it is possible. I think we will be hearing more from this guy.

    I heard him say in an interview, he would have called it the 2 hr work week if anyone would have believed it. Four hours, yeah that seems about right.

    Tango anyone?

    http://www.audiobooksalive.com

  8. Just like you Bill, I also love the new paradigm and practical ideas offered in the book. I think the new paradigm about work is one of the main reasons of the book’s success. Though, as I wrote above, work may not feel as work if we really love it.

  9. I agree with you Donald. I escaped the 9-5 rat race 4 years ago and now travel the world, working on my laptop via the internet.

    Currently in the Caribbean and going to the beach every day in between the work – which is not quite 4 hours a week but is certainly not the 60+ hours I used to do.

    But would I want to work just 4 hours a week?

    No way – I love what I do and would keep doing it regardless. What matters to me is what there is to do when I want a break from work – and floating about in the Caribbean Sea does it for me!

  10. Congrats, Lea! You already live a mobile lifestyle. It’s cool to be able to do the work you love while also having exciting things to do in your spare time. “Going to the beach everyday” sounds like something that will make many people envious 🙂

  11. I was intrigued by the book, but realized. as you have, that my work excites me, and I would hate to leave it behind. And part of what excites me is mixing with people at the office. Working from home alone gets to be numbing for me. I need people. I can’t imagine being isolated from my coworkers on a regular basis.

    I did rearrange my schedule so that I work part time, (prior to reading the book) and that has given me more freedom to spend time with my family. I like that part of the idea, being able to reduce my time commitment to work.

    I found I had to take a lot of the book with a grain of salt, though, after reading the story of how he won the Kickboxing Title…There are some great tips, but I’m still out as to the overall value of the content in my life. There are some things I am not willing to do to achieve my dreams. I believe in playing by the rules.

  12. I think our views toward the book are similar, LJ. There are some things we can learn from the book, but there are also some other things which may not fit our values nor situations. As you said, we should “take a lot of the book with a grain of salt”.

  13. I do agree re: doing what you love. I think figuring that *out* can be difficult. It’s a tiny voice that often gets lost in the daily noise.

    I do like Ferriss’s take on reducing the amount of things and inputs in your life…

    FYI here’s a little 4-hour workweek experiment I tried:

    The 4-hour workweek applied: How I spent $100, saved hours, and boosted my reading workflow
    http://ideamatt.blogspot.com/2007/08/4-hour-workweek-applied-how-i-spent-100.html

    I continue looking for other ways to apply the 80/20 principle, which was clearly a big influence on Tim Ferris (I’m reading Koch’s book now). I’d like to hear about other experiments you’ve tried.

  14. A very interesting experiment, Matthew! Thanks for letting me know about it. It’s a creative way to boost the reading productivity. And you have a lot of useful ideas on effective reading in the other articles.

    Regarding figuring out what we love, I agree that it’s “a tiny voice that often gets lost in the daily noise”. That’s why I think it’s very important to minimize noise. I believe that effectiveness is much more important than efficiency.

  15. I am actually trying to LIVE this book, so I suppose that is a very firm thumbs up that I believe it. 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. However, in my case, it was not work I loved or that excited me. It paid well, and I’ve become attached to a “lifestyle” and the safety and all that, but I suppose I wanted more out of life.
    At any rate, 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. After that? Who knows…
    Best of luck to all of you in pursuing your dreams! VW
    http://wideawakeinwonderland.wordpress.com

  16. In my experience, the conflict isn’t so much work vs. life; it is job vs. life and, ironically, even job vs. work.

    When I set aside the job construct, what I’m left with is that the things I do for fun and the things I do for money are distinct sets but with a tremendous amount of overlap. Given a reasonable time frame (say a year), I could quite easily put together a combination of activities that add up to enough (or more) money, fun, and meaningful work.

    What’s hard is doing so when earning money gets attached to someone or some institution scheduling my time, setting my price, and preventing me from realizing the benefits of my own efficiencies!

    I attribute some (not all) of the popularity of the 4-Hour Workweek to its note of righteous anger from the many of us for whom all “balance” would really take is freedom not to pretend to work just to conform to a schedule.

  17. I have resigned a month back, after reading the book. This week is my last at the caompany, and I have outsourced my farewell letter from http://www.fiverr.com
    So do I sound like a fan of the book?

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