The 4-Hour Work Week: Escape the 9-5, Live Anywhere and Join the New Rich
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The DEAL of deal making is also an acronym for the process of becoming a member of the New Rich. The steps and strategies can be used with incredible results—whether you are an employee or an entrepreneur. Can you do everything I’ve done with a boss? No. Can you use the same principles to double your income, cut your hours in half, or at least double the usual vacation time? Most definitely.
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Here is the step-by-step process you’ll use to reinvent yourself: D for Definition turns misguided common sense upside down and introduces the rules and objectives of the new game. It replaces self-defeating assumptions and explains concepts such as relative wealth and eustress.1 Who are the NR and how do they operate? This section explains the overall lifestyle design recipe—the fundamentals—before we add the three ingredients. E for Elimination kills the obsolete notion of time management once and for all. It shows exactly how I used the words of an often-forgotten Italian economist to turn ...more
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1. Uncommon terms are defined throughout this book as concepts are introduced. If something is unclear or you need a quick reference, please visit www.fourhourblog.com for an extensive glossary and other resources.
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SO, WHAT MAKES the difference? What separates the New Rich, characterized by options, from the Deferrers (D), those who save it all for the end only to find that life has passed them by? It begins at the beginning. The New Rich can be separated from the crowd based on their goals, which reflect very distinct priorities and life philosophies.
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D: To work for yourself. NR: To have others work for you. 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”). 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. 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 ...more
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So, Who Are the NR? The employee who rearranges his schedule and negotiates a remote work agreement to achieve 90% of the results in one-tenth of the time, which frees him to practice cross-country skiing and take road trips with his family two weeks per month. The business owner who eliminates the least profitable customers and projects, outsources all operations entirely, and travels the world collecting rare documents, all while working remotely on a website to showcase her own illustration work. The student who elects to risk it all—which is nothing—to establish an online video rental ...more
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From Japan to Monaco, from globetrotting single mothers to multimillionaire racecar drivers, the basic rules of successful NR are surprisingly uniform and predictably divergent from what the rest of the world is doing. The following rules are the fundamental differentiators to keep in mind throughout this book. 1. Retirement Is Worst-Case-Scenario Insurance. 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. ...more
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2. Interest and Energy Are Cyclical. If I offered you $10,000,000 to work 24 hours a day for 15 years and then retire, would you do it? Of course not—you couldn’t. It is unsustainable, just as what most define as a career: doing the same thing for 8+ hours per day until you break down or have enough cash to permanently stop.
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Alternating periods of activity and rest is necessary to survive, let alone thrive. Capacity, interest, and mental endurance all wax and wane. Plan accordingly. The NR aims to distribute “mini-retirements” throughout life instead of hoarding the recovery and enjoyment for the fool’s gold of retirement. By working only when you are most effective, life is both more productive and more enjoyable. It’s the perfect example of having your cake and eating it, too.
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3. Less Is Not Laziness. Doing less meaningless work, so that you can focus on things of greater personal importance, is NOT laziness.
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The NR, despite fewer hours in the office, produce more meaningful results than the next dozen non-NR combined.
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Focus on being productive instead of busy.
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4. The Timing Is Never Right.
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For all of the most important things, the timing always sucks. Waiting for a good time to quit your job? The stars will never align and the traffic lights of life will never all be green at the same time.
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Conditions are never perfect. “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.
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5. Ask for Forgiveness, Not Permission. If it isn’t going to devastate those around you, try it and then justify it.
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If the potential damage is moderate or in any way reversible, don’t give people the chance to say no. Most people are fast to stop you before you get started but hesitant to get in the way if you’re moving. Get good at being a troublemaker and saying sorry when you really screw up.
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6. Emphasize Strengths, Don’t Fix Weaknesses. Most people are good at a handful of things and utterly miserable at most.
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It is far more lucrative and fun to leverage your strengths instead of attempting to fix all the chinks in your armor. The choice is between multiplication of results using strengths or incremental improvement fixing weaknesses that will, at best, become mediocre.
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7. Things in Excess Become Their Opposite.
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It is possible to have too much of a good thing. In excess, most endeavors and possessions take on the characteristics of their opposite.
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Too much, too many, and too often of what you want becomes what you don’t want.
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This is true of possessions and even time. Lifestyle Design is thus not interested in creating an excess of idle time, which is poisonous, but the positive use of free time, defined simply as doing what you want as opposed to what you feel obligated to do.
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8. Money Alone Is Not the Solution.
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“If only I had more money” is the easiest way to postpone the intense self-examination and decision-making necessary to create a life of enjoyment—now and not later. By using money as the scapegoat and work as our all-consuming routine, we are able to conveniently disallow ourselves the time to do otherwise: “John, I’d love to talk about the gaping void I feel in my life, the hopelessness that hits me like a punch in the eye every time I start my computer in the morning, but I have so much work to do! I’ve got at least three hours of unimportant e-mail to reply to before calling the prospects ...more
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9. Relative Income Is More Important Than Absolute Income.
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What about income? Is a dollar is a dollar is a dollar? The New Rich don’t think so.
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Absolute income is measured using one holy and inalterable variable: the raw and almighty dollar. Jane Doe makes $100,000 per year and is thus twice as rich as John Doe, who makes $50,000 per year.
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Relative income uses two variables: the dollar and time, usually hours. The whole “per year” concept is arbitrary and makes it easy to trick yourself. Let’s look at the real trade. Jane Doe makes $100,000 per year, $2,000 for each of 50 weeks per year, and works 80 hours per week. Jane Doe thus makes $25 per hour. John Doe makes $50,000 per year, $1,000 for each of 50 weeks per year, but works 10 hours per week and hence makes $100 per hour. In relative income, John is four times richer.
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Of course, relative income has to add up to the minimum amount necessary to actualize your goals. If I make $100 per hour but only work one hour per week, it’s going to be hard for me to run amuck like a superstar. Assuming that the total absolute income is where it needs to be to live my dreams (not an arbitrary point of comparison with the Joneses), relative income is the real measurement of wealth for the New Rich. The top New Rich ...
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10. Distress Is Bad, Eustress Is Good. Unbeknownst to most fun-loving bipeds, not all stress is bad. Indeed, the New Rich don’t aim to eliminate all stress. Not in the least. There are two separate types of stress, each as different as euphoria and its seldom-mentioned opposite, dysphoria. Distress refers to harmful stimuli that make you weaker, less confident, and less able. Destructive criticism, abusive bosses, and smashing your face on a curb are examples of this. These are things we want to avoid. Eustress, on the other hand, is a word most of you have probably never heard. Eu-, a Greek ...more
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People who avoid all criticism fail. It’s destructive criticism we need to avoid, not criticism in all forms. Similarly, there is no progress without eustress, and the more eustress we can create or apply to our lives, the sooner we can actualize our dreams. The trick is telling the two apart. The New Rich are equally aggressive in removing distress and finding eustress.
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Many a false step was made by standing still. —FORTUNE COOKIE
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Action may not always bring happiness, but there is no happiness without action. —BENJAMIN DISRAELI, former British Prime Minister
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TO DO OR not to do? To try or not to try? Most people will vote no, whether they consider themselves brave or not. Uncertainty and the prospect of failure can be very scary noises in the shadows. Most people will choose unhappiness over uncertainty.
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Conquering Fear = Defining Fear Set aside a certain number of days, during which you shall be content with the scantiest and cheapest fare, with course and rough dress, saying to yourself the while: “Is this the condition that I feared?” —SENECA
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Uncovering Fear Disguised as Optimism There’s no difference between a pessimist who says, “Oh, it’s hopeless, so don’t bother doing anything,” and an optimist who says, “Don’t bother doing anything, it’s going to turn out fine anyway.” Either way, nothing happens. —YVON CHOUINARD,7 founder of Patagonia
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FEAR COMES IN many forms, and we usually don’t call it by its four-letter name. Fear itself is quite fear-inducing. Most intelligent people in the world dress it up as something else: optimistic denial. Most who avoid quitting their jobs entertain the thought that their course will improve with time or increases in income. This seems valid and is a tempting hallucination when a job is boring or uninspiring instead of pure hell. Pure hell forces action, but anything less can be endured with enough clever rationalization. Do you really think it will improve or is it wishful thinking and an ...more
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Are you better off than you were one year ago, one month ago, or one week ago? If not, things will not improve by themselves. If you are kidding yourself, it is time to stop and plan for a jump. Barring any James Dean ending, your life is going to be LONG. Nine to five for your working lifetime of 40–50 years is a long-ass time if the rescue doesn’t come. About 500 months of solid work.
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How many do you have to go? It’s probably time to...
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To enjoy life, you don’t need fancy nonsense, but you do need to control your time and realize that most things just aren’t as serious as you make them out to be.
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IF YOU ARE nervous about making the jump or simply putting it off out of fear of the unknown, here is your antidote. Write down your answers, and keep in mind that thinking a lot will not prove as fruitful or as prolific as simply brain vomiting on the page. Write and do not edit—aim for volume. Spend a few minutes on each answer. 1. Define your nightmare, the absolute worst that could happen if you did what you are considering. What doubt, fears, and “what-ifs” pop up as you consider the big changes you can—or need—to make? Envision them in painstaking detail. Would it be the end of your ...more
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4. If you were fired from your job today, what would you do to get things under financial control? Imagine this scenario and run through questions 1–3 above. If you quit your job to test other options, how could you later get back on the same career track if you absolutely had to?
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5. What are you putting off out of fear? Usually, what we most fear doing is what we most need to do. That phone call, that conversation, whatever the action might be—it is fear of unknown outcomes that prevents us from doing what we need to do. Define the worst case, accept it, and do it. I’ll repeat something you might consider tattooing on your forehead: What we fear doing most is usually what we most need to do. As I have heard said, a person’s success in life can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations he or she is willing to have. Resolve to do one thing every ...more
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Doing the Unrealistic Is Easier Than Doing the Realistic FROM CONTACTING BILLIONAIRES to rubbing elbows with celebrities—the second group of students did both—it’s as easy as believing it can be done.