Why the 4 Hour Workweek is No Longer For Me


STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, CO—For the past 5 years, I’ve been enamored with the musings of Tim Ferriss, life hacker. The 4 Hour Workweek inspired me to think in a way that gave me the confidence to break away from what society expected me to do, and pursue my own goals. Ferriss is focused on targeting your efforts that yield the greatest output: working smarter, not harder. His ultimate goal is to generate income while freeing up massive amounts of his time to pursue side projects.


When I was sitting at a desk for sixty hours a week, it was an enchanting proposition. Start a business that you can run for a few hours a week, giving you massive amounts of free time to spend however you wish. It comes with a catch, however—you must be an incredibly disciplined, driven person to accomplish anything with that free time. If you were someone that spent their summer lounging by the pool, drinking lemonade and reading because, well, you just had the free time…this mantra isn’t going to work very well for you. You need to be a driven self-starter to build your own 4 Hour Workweek, and committed to spending your free time in a productive manner.


Hacking your life so that you have intense periods of work followed by intense periods of free time is not for everyone. I used to think that it was something I wanted for my life—I would finally have time to learn to play the guitar, write a book, learn to surf—all good things, and all things I accomplished. But for me, meaning from life doesn’t come from the pursuits that I'll chase on an individual level. I need camaraderie with others, in a scenario where we are all working towards the same goal.


It would be nice to run a low-maintenance business, giving me loads of free time, but I would much rather find a vocation in life—a profession that I could throw myself into and happily work 60 hours a week. Simply finding a job to fund my lifestyle will leave me wanting for a focused passion, and that is what is really going to give meaning to my life.


A fit of passion can make you feel alive: the ability to be able to concentrate for long periods of time on seemingly trivial matters is a quality unique to humans. It’s not a bad thing to find yourself in a job that you really care about, working your ass off to get ahead. In fact, that’s probably a really good thing as long as you don’t overdo it.


How we choose to apply our talents, our time, and our hard work is what makes us, us. It’s also what makes us happy. There’s no rule against doing something you are passionate about in your spare time, but the ultimate goal should be to get paid for that thing you really care about, since everyone will benefit—you, your family, your friends, and your business associates. When it comes down to it, the real question is: how will you choose to apply yourself to life? Generating income so that your free time is yours to play with, or devoting yourself to a passion that will become your own identity, and something in which you can take pride? For me, after a few years of soul-searching, the answer is more definitively to engage in group pursuits rather than individual pursuits.