This article was originally published on May 9th, 2008. This was before Tim was the household 4-_____ name that he is today. It was the first time I encountered a lot of these ideas. They’ve been hugely influential – as I agree with some of them more and more…and disagree with others more and more. In my mind, that’s the hallmark of a good book!
I’ve read the 4–Hour Work Week twice now, in detail. The first time I read it I was so blown away that I had to put it down, digest it, and then come back for a second go. I think I was checking to see if I would still think it was great – which I did. Timothy is basically starting with the premise that the way we work, the 9–5, forty year grind, is rarely in alignment with what we want to get out of life. His goal is to show how to live like the “New Rich”, a group of individuals he feels shares common goals and lifestyle choices – such as working less hours, but being much more productive with that work time, and living a full life in the present instead of delaying it until after retirement.
Don’t get me wrong, this book doesn’t have all the keys to living the idyllic life. I have to say that I think there are parts of the 4–Hour Work Week that are completely brilliant and that other parts are horribly and painfully wrong. I found that there were three types of ideas in the book: 1. Ideas that fired me up, 2. Ideas that initially put me off because they challenged me to get out of my comfort zone (which I think is good), and 3. Ideas that I think just don’t work. This doesn’t detract from the book -actually it’s one of the most important things about it. You learn from the books you disagree with just as much, if not more, than the ones you agree with.
Ideas, Implications, and Questions:
- There were a lot of things I took away from Timothy’s book, so I’m not going to write out everything (this review would be way too long), but really, Timothy is examining what is important in our day to day operations to get us to our larger goals. By even focusing on the idea of the value of my daily activities, by making me hold a mirror up to myself, I was able to make some powerful changes.
- “Challenging the status quo vs. being stupid … different is better when it is more effective or more fun.” (pg 30). Too often we try to be different just to be different. I think this is a great formula for measuring when you should buck the trends, and when you should go with the flow.
- The idea of having many mini-retirements in life instead of waiting until the end of your career makes a lot of sense to me.
- His focus on the 6 month goal deadline (or dreamline) as opposed to the really long term goals makes sense to me. While I think there is some value in having a general idea of where you want your life to go in the far future, it’s hard to conceptualize. Also, many people don’t make long-term goals because they know intuitively that their goals will change over time. Thus, they get stuck with no goals and no direction. The six month timeline is long enough to focus your energy but not so far away that it loses its vitality. I’ve made some 6 month goals that I find are stretching me but also keeping me motivated and active
- I think he misstates the Pareto principle a little for effect, but the points he makes about how we spend our time are invaluable. I often recommend clients read his thoughts about how to focus on the best customers because I think he explains effective time use well.
- “There should never be more than two mission critical objectives to complete each day” (pg 79). Get those two things done each day (and do them right away) and your business will thrive.
- He assumes that when you start your own web business – your muse – that it will be successful and you’ll make lots of money. He pays lip service to the idea of experimentation, but he makes it seem like it’s a simple and quick process that will lead naturally to something that will help you make a lot of money. It’s nice that it happened for him, I’ve just found the real world to be a little more messy and uncertain – and that’s OK.
- His ideas about reducing how much information you take in reinforce my own ideas about how to deal with the information glut in our culture right now.
- There’s a lot more that I got from it, but instead of me telling you – go read the book yourself.
Should you read this book?
Absolutely yes. There is something here for everyone to learn. Different people will definitely be attracted to different parts of the book; but I feel that Timothy elucidates some of the main obstacles that people run into when they are trying to break out of the “rat race” (and how to avoid them). I know that this is a great reference book for me to have in my library, and I suggest you put it in yours as well.