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One of the most talked about and controversial business books in the last 10 years has been Tim Ferriss’ The 4 Hour Workweek.

Full disclosure, I bought this book when it first came out in 2007 while browsing a book store on my lunch break in a corporate job I hated, looking for a way out.

The title and subtitle grabbed me (who wouldn’t want to escape the 9-5 and work only 4 hours a week?!) and so I made the purchase.

Only to return the book the next week.

It seemed like a fairy tale to me. An impossibility.

Funny story – I re-purchased the book 3 years later after my new business began to pick up steam and I saw Tim’s concepts with fresh eyes.

It is now one of a handful of business books that I re-read every single year.

And while I don’t agree with everything in the book or share his exact worldview, there is too much life changing material in it to ignore.

Today I’m going to share with you the 3 biggest golden nuggets inside and how you can apply them to your life and business!

Nugget #1 – Time Is Just As Valuable A Currency As Money

Our culture (in America at least) is too focused on money, specifically annual income, as the measure of success.

All we seem to care about is how much we make per year.

But time is just as valuable of a currency as money – and yet we trade our time away at the drop of a hat for more money.

In The 4-Hour Workweek (4HWW) Tim talks about concept of relative income vs absolute income, and the distinction is important.

Take a look at this simple chart.

In this hypothetical examples, Tim earns $200,000 per year but has to work 80 hours a week to do it.

While Sarah on the other hand makes “only” $75,000 a year, but needs to work only 20 hours a week.

Who is more wealthy?

Poor Tim. He thinks he’s wealthy. He’s probably just really tired.

In terms of absolute wealth, Tim clearly has more.

He makes 2.5X what Sarah makes – but at what cost?

Tim must work 4 times as many hours as Sarah to generate that kind of coin.

If you break it down by how much they are earning per of work – Sarah is earning 50% more per hour than Tim.

So in terms of relative income (which is real wealth because it’s money relative to time spent) Sarah is wealthier.

The lesson here is simple: making more money is nice, but having more time and flexibility to enjoy that money is just as valuable and something you must consider.

Nugget #2 – 80% Of Your Work Can Be Eliminated, Automated, or Delegated

The real strength of The 4-Hour Workweek in my opinion is in the 3 chapter section on “elimination” or as Tim calls it the “end of time management”.

Tim makes the case that 80% of what you do at work or in your business contributes very little if anything to your sales, revenue, or success is so helpful.

Most of us do what he calls “work for work’s sake” – we’ve been programed to work 8 hours a day (minimum) but rarely are all 8 of those hours productive.

It’s amazing what happens when you begin to eliminate the 80% (or automate or delegate what can’t be eliminated) – you get more done in less time.

I’m a great example of this.

When I started my business The Recording Revolution I worked a total of 32 hours a week.

Not a bad work week to be sure.

But each year I’ve made it my goal to reduce the amount of hours it takes to run the business – not so I can be lazy, but so that I’m not wasteful.

I want to be as effective as possible.

I want to only do the things that matter in my business, and trim the fat.

Check out this video on how you can get more done by ignoring most things!

These days it only takes me 5 hours a week to keep the business running!

And revenue continues to climb!

This is only possible because I have learned to eliminate much of what I used to do.

And what can’t be eliminated I’ve automated or delegated to someone else.

It’s been hard to do and has taken me a few years, but it’s possible!

Nugget #3 – Life Is Meant To Be Lived, Not Deferred

The final golden nugget that I’ve taken from my many readings of The 4-Hour Workweek is that life is meant to be lived – not deferred.

Where Tim is going in all of this is the idea of actually living your life now, instead of putting it off till you are in your 60s, retired, and finally able to “enjoy your life.”

Too many people work a job they hate, hoping to earn and save enough money to finally do what they want in life – this is a bad plan.

Life is meant to be lived, not deferred.

Now, to me this doesn’t mean you have to find a way to make money so you don’t have to work.

But rather pivoting into work that you actually love to do, enjoying each day, being efficient, buying back some of your time, so you have flexibility.

I believe truly living life means giving yourself fully to loving and serving people well.

Jesus put it best when he said in the Bible: “It is more blessed to give, than to receive.”

The word for “blessed” in the original Greek actually means “happy making” – so Jesus is saying it’s more happy-making to give than to receive.

It is more blessed (“happy-making” in the Greek) to give than to receive. – Jesus Christ

You’re actually happier when you give to and serve others.

And I can’t think of a better way to give to others than entrepreneurship!

Starting a business that has an amazing product or service that makes people’s lives better is one of the most noble causes out there – and it has nothing to do with you!

Living your life now (in my opinion) looks like giving up that job you hate but are working just to make money and instead shifting into work that matters, work you care about, and serving others.

The money will follow – but in the mean time you’ll have joy, satisfaction, and flexibility.

Pivot Into Your Version Of The 4-Hour Workweek

Like I said a moment ago, I don’t agree with everything in this book.

Nor do I share Tim’s worldview.

But everyone should read this book at least once.

It will challenge your thinking, call you out on your inefficiencies, and push you to think about how your work and life exist together, rather than as two separate things.

Perhaps you’re ready to make that shift and you’re primed for a change in your work week. But where to begin?

How do you transition from your current work or business situation into your own version of The 4-Hour Workweek (whatever that means to you)?

If you don’t know where to start, then you need to download my free training “Get Paid To Do What You Love”.

In this 45 minute audio training you’ll uncover the 3 steps to pivot into the business you were meant for and learn how to begin monetizing what you know, love, and are good at.

It’s absolutely free and it could change your life. Enjoy!

Download the free 30 Day No Hustle Business Plan

Launch Your Business.  No hustle required!

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16 thoughts on “The 4-Hour Work Week: Truth Or Fantasy?”

  1. Got the audiobook on my phone. Love it!

    I took a bit of a Tim Ferris life approach recently. I travelled all around Europe on my own working two businesses online (and building one). Now bear in mind I’m not on big bucks, earning less than £2000 a month BUT I was in between rental contracts so I just got on a plane!

    I stayed in Air Bnbs all over Europe, drinking with French students, partying with Sicilian hippies, eating incredibly cheap Spanish tapas. I would work during the day in the most scenic Wifi coffee spots I could find. It took some guts but I was booking flights just days in advance to get crazy cheap rates and securing my lodging on my iPhone.

    One morning, after finishing an amazing local breakfast in the back of a pottery shop in Malaga, I did the figures.

    It was costing roughly half of my usual outgoings to be taking this trip. HALF!

    My regular rent, bills and groceries in little grey South London were costing me twice as much as travelling around Europe with my laptop, eating incredible food, meeting amazing people, butchering beautiful languages!

    Now, yes I had a little saving tucked away in case of an emergency, and I wouldn’t recommend this to everyone. But thinking outside the box and taking a little bit of the ‘Yes Man’ approach allowed me to take one of the most memorable trips I have ever taken and, most importantly, demonstrated to me the value of living and loving your life.

    We made up the concept of money as a way of trading as well as creating a hierarchy of wealth, but that feeling when you take a deep breath overlooking the city of Rome or watching the sunset over Marseille, that’s not manmade. That’s real and it’s worth all the money in the world……….but apparently doesn’t cost it!

    1. Most important is eliminate 🙂 I use Pareto’s Principle and Parkinson’s Law for this – at least every 6 months. Then comes automation (email autoresponders for selling, social media post schedulers, etc). Finally delegation…after 4 years of my first business I had to hire an assistant to take care of customer service and clear out, and organize my inbox every day. Has helped tremendously.

  2. Nathan Schaumann

    Hey Graham – I’m so curious. What are the other business books that you reread every year, besides this one?

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