The 4-Hour Work Week (Timothy Ferris): What I Learned The Second Time Through

Lately, at times, I’ve been feeling that I’m running on a hamster wheel.

Do you know that feeling?


Almost 7 years ago I read the 4-Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss and quit my job almost immediately. I’ve been running my own business ever since.

The problem is, I thought I was on a hamster wheel when I had a job working for someone else, but now I realise that I’m just running on a different hamster wheel by running my own business!

Recently, I was nudged by a friend of mine to re-read the book, which I did.

Much of it was very familiar because so many of the principles I put into action at the time, but here’s a section on goals that stood out to me this time.

Ferris makes the distinction between 2 types of people:

  1. The Deferrers (D) who save all their time and money for the end of their life only to find that life has passed them by
  2. The New Rich (NR) who set very different goals, and priorities, they have a different philosophy on life

Which one are you?

Ferris goes on to list pairs of goals to further differentiate between the two mindsets.

From each pair of goals in the following list, which one is more like you?

Goal #1

D: To work for yourself.
NR: To have others work for you.

Goal #2

D: To work when you want to.
NR: To prevent work for work’s sake, and to do the minimum necessary for maximum effect (“minimum effective load”).

Goal #3

D: To retire early or young.
NR: To distribute recovery periods and adventures (mini-retirements) throughout life on a regular basis and recognize that inactivity is not the goal. Doing that which excites you is.

Goal #4

D: To buy all the things you want to have.
NR: To do all the things you want to do, and be all the things you want to be. If this includes some tools and gadgets, so be it, but they are either means to an end or bonuses, not the focus.

Goal #5

D: To be the boss instead of the employee; to be in charge.
NR: To be neither the boss nor the employee, but the owner. To own the trains and have someone else ensure they run on time.

Goal #6

D: To make a ton of money.
NR: To make a ton of money with specific reasons and defined dreams to chase, timelines and steps included. What are you working for?

Goal #7

D: To have more.
NR: To have more quality and less clutter. To have huge financial reserves but recognize that most material wants are justifications for spending time on the things that don’t really matter, including buying things and preparing to buy things. You spent two weeks negotiating your new Infiniti with the dealership and got $10,000 off? That’s great. Does your life have a purpose? Are you contributing anything useful to this world, or just shuffling papers, banging on a keyboard, and coming home to a drunken existence on the weekends?

Goal #8

D: To reach the big pay-off, whether IPO, acquisition, retirement, or other pot of gold.
NR: To think big but ensure payday comes every day: cash flow first, big payday second.

Goal #9

D: To have freedom from doing that which you dislike.
NR: To have freedom from doing that which you dislike, but also the freedom and resolve to pursue your dreams without reverting to work for work’s sake (W4W). After years of repetitive work, you will often need to dig hard to find your passions, redefine your dreams, and revive hobbies that you let atrophy to near extinction. The goal is not to simply eliminate the bad, which does nothing more than leave you with a vacuum, but to pursue and experience the best in the world.

Living like a millionaire requires doing interesting things and not just owning enviable things.

My Thoughts

Wow. I love counter-intuitive thinking like this. If you are a driven, aspirational person like me, you have probably had most or all of the “D” goals in your head at some time?

But the “NR” goals really helped me to see a different perspective.

My concept of “business owner” has evolved so much over the last few months. Until recently, I thought I was a business owner, but now I realise that actually, I’m self-employed!

  1. Employee: You work for someone else
  2. Self-Employed: You work for several clients/customers instead of a single boss
  3. Business Owner:  You set up systems and procedures and get other people to run the business without you (Like Ferris says, “own the train, but someone else makes sure it runs on time”).

Your Thoughts?

Have your say in the comments below.

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