How I Broke Free Using 5 Lessons From The 4-Hour Work Week

In the summer of 2007 I read a review of a little known book (at that time) The 4-hour Work Week. I was fascinated with the core concept espoused in the book and ordered it through Amazon and read it in one seating.

Then came an opportunity for me to get an early retirement from my company where I was working for 10 years. I took the early retirement package.

I cashed on a few more opportunities that I was pursuing as an independent business operator and realized close to 300K in my checking account. I had a valuable skill set through an MS degree in Computer Science,  10 years of work experience and a few independent projects.

For the first time I realized that I could create salable assets using my skills. I truly realized financial freedom . I felt like, at last, I broke free from the chain that was holding me to a location and 9-5 jobs.

The book had profound impact on my lifestyle, I how I take jobs, residence, and work.  I will discuss a few brilliant lesson learned from the book if you ever want to break free from your routine life

1. The 80/20 Principle – 80% Output is the Result of 20% Input

I was a 6-Sigma black belt and I knew the principle of 80/20 or Pareto’s Principle. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, Vilfredo Pareto, the Italian economist concluded that 80% of the wealth and income was produced and possessed by 20% of the population.  But he also found the mathematical formula was applicable outside of economics as well. In fact, it could be found just about everywhere. For example,

  • 80% of Pareto’s garden peas were produced by 20% of the peapods he had planted.
  • 80% of company profits come from 20% of the products and customers.
  • 80% of your complaints come from 20% of your customers.

You could say 80% of the output is a result of 20% of the input.  Tim suggests that you can eliminate waste in your life by 80/20 ing everything.  I started doing at least once a month, preferable twice, to really see where I’m able to optimize my time, energy, money etc.  This is, by far, one of the best things to do to really discover where you should put your focus. I also realized that

1. Doing something unimportant does not make it important.

2. Requiring a lot of time does not make a task important. What you do is exponentially more important than how you do it. While efficiency is important, it is useless unless applied to the right things.

2. Deferred Life Plan is Bad Idea

Most people will work 40 years to get a nice retirement to live a dream life.  They will plan to defer whatever they want to a future when they don’t have to work for money anymore. This is normal. People have been doing this since the advent of white collar jobs.

For most people this is impossible unless you inherit your wealthy parents’ money  without participating in your father’s business.  For the first time in history Tim Ferriss showed us that it is possible to create cash without  consuming time (a muse). It was under my nose. I had a website that was making $40K a year (Classifieds For Free) and just sold a PPC arbitrage website for a nice chunk of money.

He further told us countless stories of how people have optimized their muse and outsource their day-to-day tasks in generating passive cash flow without  having to worry about money or job security. I was fully prepared to take the challenge that lied before me.

3. Cost of Inaction

What is costing you to quit your job, starting a business, traveling, getting healthy, or anything else, what are the costs of waiting?  I wanted to experience a hedonistic life style. I wanted to indulge in psychedelic and legal sexual pleasure without any constraints. Time is finite, and I was not guaranteed the next day. I was 44.

Tim says, “Someday” is a disease that will take your dreams to the grave with you. Pro and con lists are just as bad. If it’s important to you and you want to do it “eventually,” just do it and correct course along the way.”

At the age of 44, two decades after I graduated from university, I realized that I have enough money and a valuable skill to fall back for launching my hedonistic life journey. The feeling was great and most liberating.

4. The Guilt of Non-Finishing

From childhood we are taught that we have to finish a task once we start. From dinner to music lessons, from art class to Karate lesson, we are told to finish what we have started. We don’t want to be quitter.

Tim challenges the idea of finishing everything. He said just because you start something, doesn’t automatically justify finishing it. As an example he aid if you bought a  $9 bags of popcorn and 64oz drinks in a movie theatre, you don’t have to finish it.  Its okay to stop something that is boring or a waste of time if it isn’t required as part of your job.

Tim says, “Lifestyle design is based on massive action— output. Increased output necessitates decreased input. Most information is time-consuming, negative, irrelevant to your goals, and outside of your influence.”

Enjoy the things that really matter to you. If you have passion for something, enjoy your passions. If you like to watch SciFi movies, don’t waste your time watching romance. If you like to play video game, don’t waste your time watching political debates.

5. Freedom Means Giving Up Control

I was a perfectionist and afraid to give up control when designing a software or system. I wanted to do every thing by myself. Being able to live in a way for the first few years due to the money I had in my banks, it was easy. However, after a few years when I started freelancing, I did not care to control software design and development process.

I set up systems to architect solutions and  outsource many aspects of design and development.  I was enjoying a 4-hour work week, leading a hedonistic lifestyle at the expense of some  one in India or Philippines working 40 or 60 hours to lead a normal lifestyle of a white collar worker.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *