book review - 4-hour workweek

The 4-Hour Workweek, by Tim Ferriss

book review - 4-hour workweek
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Brief Commentary

People don’t want to be millionaires – they want to experience what they believe only millions can buy… $1,000,000 in the bank isn’t the fantasy. The fantasy is the lifestyle of complete freedom it supposedly allows.  The question is then, How can one achieve the millionaire lifestyle of complete freedom without first having $1,000,000.”

Timothy Ferriss, The 4-Hour Workweek

Ok. I need to address one issue upfront.

I am allergic to “get-rich-quick” schemes, magic bullets, and products that trumpet all-the-results-with-none-of-of-the-work.  I usually toss them aside.

So the title “4-Hour Workweek” made me suspicious right away. What about you?

But I’m glad I got passed the title. Although Timothy (Tim) is a very good promoter, as demonstrated by his title, the book is actually a very thought-provoking, convention-crushing book.  The title, like the book, is meant to challenge you and to press your buttons.

In fact, this book has been one of the biggest inspirations for me to take mini-retirements, like the four month sabbatical trip to Spain and South America with my wife in 2009, one year trip to Argentina with my family in 2017, and many smaller trips in between.

Tim doesn’t ask you to give up hard work, but rather challenges you to question your own assumptions about work, money, and how you spend your time.  My mind has certainly been challenged, and my life is much better for it.

If you’ve been reading my blog long, I think you’ll recognize a lot of philosophical similarities between me and Tim.  So, let’s dig into my favorite big ideas. I had a very hard time condensing the book down, as I’ve circled and underlined nearly the entire book during rereads!

I hope you enjoy! Please let me know what you think in the comments section below.

My Favorite Big Ideas From the Book

**Links are to articles I have written on the idea

1. How to Get What You Really Want – The 3 Currencies of Life

The philosophy of the 3 currencies of life is about viewing business and life decisions using more than just money as a currency.  Other limited commodities (aka currencies) like time and personal mobility also allow you to live a life that is rich and fulfilling. So these additional currencies could be as important as money in your decision-making considerations.

2. Retirement = Worst Case Insurance 

Is retirement, as in the place where you do nothing productive and add nothing to society, really a primary goal? Maybe not. Maybe it’s just like insurance – something you plan for in a worst case scenario.  That perspective changes everything about what you do now and how you approach retirement.

3. Mini-Retirements – How to Retire Before You’re Ready

This is my manifesto on Mini-Retirements. Sometimes you don’t have to wait until the end of your life to live like you’re retired. This explains the what and the how of taking mini-retirements for yourself.

4. You Are Not Superhuman! Interest and Energy Are Cyclical

Are you like me and try to push until you’re exhausted? Sometimes I need a reminder that I’m not super human.  Our minds, our bodies, and our lives naturally ebb and flow. It’s much easier to use these cycles and work with them instead of fighting against them.

5. So, What Do You Do? 

What’s the #1 small talk question in America after the weather?  “What do you do?”  Our job seems to be our identity. But does our job really define us? Who is the person behind the job description? What else should we identify with?

6. Anti-Time Management – The 80:20 Principle & Parkinson’s Law

Time management is more than just being efficient.  Getting better at doing more only leads to more stress.  Instead, the 80:20 rule and Parkinson’s Law are like anti-time management rules. Do less in order to accomplish more.

7. Define the Nightmare: The Power of Pessimism 

There is a reason monsters always lived in the closet or under the bed when you were a kid. Scary things live in the dark, unknown places of our lives. Therefore, when we use healthy pessimism to shine light on our worst case scenarios and define them, we can move through our fears and start accomplishing more.

8. Just Go For It! The Time is Never Right

There will always be an excuse. There will always be a reason you can’t do something important. And the time is NEVER right.  So why not just do it now? If it’s important, just go for it!

My Favorite Quotes From the Book

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.”

If you can free your time and location, your money is automatically worth 3-10 times as much.  This has nothing to do with currency rates … Money is multiplied in practical value depending upon the W’s you control in your life: what you do, when you do it, where you do it, and with whom you do it. I call this the “freedom multiplier.”

Retirement planning is like life insurance. It should be viewed as nothing more than a hedge against the absolute worst-case scenario: in this case, becoming physically incapable of working and needing a reservoir of capital to survive.”

Gold is getting old. The New Rich (NR) are those who abandon the deferred-lifestyle plan and create luxury lifestyles in the present using the currency of the New Rich:  time and mobility. This is an art and a science we will refer to as lifestyle design.”

Adults are always asking kids what they want to be when they grow up because they are looking for ideas.”

Paula Poundstone (quoted in the book)

What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for a worthwhile goal, a freely chosen task.”

Viktor Frankl (quoted in the book)

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”

Mark Twain (quoted in the book)

The commonsense rules of the ‘real world’ are a fragile collection of socially reinforced illusions.”

These individuals have riches just as we say that we ‘have a fever,’ when really the fever has us.”

Seneca, stoic philosopher, 4 B.C. – A.D. 65 (quoted in the book)

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?”

Set aside a certain number of days, during which you shall be content with the scantiest and cheapest fare, with coarse and rough dress, saying to yourself the while: ‘Is this the condition that I feared?'”

Seneca, stoic philosopher, 4 B.C. – A.D. 65 (quoted in the book)

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”

George Bernard Shaw, Maxims for Revolutionists (quoted in the book)

Excitement is a more practical synonym for happiness, and it is precisely what you should strive to chase. It is the cure-all.”


One does not accumulate but eliminate. It is not daily increase but daily decrease. The height of cultivation always runs to simplicity.

Bruce Lee, martial artist and philosopher (quoted in the book)

A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone.”

Henry David Thoreau, Walden (quoted in the book)

 As to methods there may be a million and then some, but principles are few. The man who grasps principles can successfully select his own methods. The man who tries methods, ignoring principles, is sure to have trouble.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson (quoted in the book)

By working faithfully eight hours a day, you may eventually get to be a boss and work twelve hours a day.”

Robert Frost, American Poet (quoted in the book)

There is more to life than increasing its speed.”

Mohandas Gandhi (quoted in the book)

If You Liked This Book, You Might Also Like:

  • Vagabonding by Rolf Potts ( Print | Ebook | Audiobook)
  • The $100 Start-up by Chris Guillebeau (Print | Ebook | Audiobook)
  • Let My People Go Surfing – The Education of a Reluctant Business Man  by Yvon Choinard  ( Print | Ebook )
  • The Emyth Revisited by Michael Gerber (Print | Ebook | Audiobook)
  • How to Make Millions With Your Ideas, Dan Kennedy (Print)

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