The 4-Hour Workweek [But Not a review]

Published by Prabin Poudel 10 min read
cover: The 4-Hour Workweek [But Not a review]
Table of contents

Forget the old concept of retirement and the rest of the deferred - life plan – there is no need to wait and every reason not to, especially in unpredictable economic times. Whether your dream is escaping the rat race, experiencing high-end world travel, or earning a monthly five-figure income with zero management, The 4-Hour Workweek is the blueprint.

This book changed the way I think about my professional life, I was wired to think that 9 to 5 jobs are normal and it is “what it is”. Then I read this book, it teaches you ways to delegate all your boring works to others, so you can focus on the most important job. The author suggests us to take all the vacations that we are saving for the retirement right now; all while teaching us about life style redesigns to help us achieve that.

Chronology of a Pathology

  • “An expert is a person who has made all the mistakes that can be made in a very narrow field.” - Niels Bohr

Getting off the wrong train

  • “Civilization had too many rules for me, so I did my best to rewrite them” - Bill Cosby

Rules that change the rules

  • “I can’t give you a sure fire formula for success, but I can give you a formula for failure: try to please everybody all the time.” - Herbert Bayard Swope

Pessimism: Defining the nightmare

  • “Action may not always bring happiness, but there is no happiness without action.” — Benjamin Disraeli
  • 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.

Uncovering feat disguised as optimism

  • 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.
  • 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.

Q&A: Questions and Actions

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 life? What would be the permanent impact, if any, on a scale of 1–10? Are these things really permanent? How likely do you think it is that they would actually happen?

  2. What steps could you take to repair the damage or get things back on the upswing, even if temporarily?

    Chances are, it’s easier than you imagine. How could you get things back under control?

  3. What are the outcomes or benefits, both temporary and permanent, of more probable scenarios?

    Now that you’ve defined the nightmare, what are the more probable or definite positive outcomes, whether internal (confidence, self-esteem, etc.) or external? What would the impact of these more-likely outcomes be on a scale of 1–10? How likely is it that you could produce at least a moderately good outcome? Have less intelligent people done this before and pulled it off?

  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?

  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 day that you fear. I got into this habit by attempting to contact celebrities and famous businesspeople for advice.

  6. What is it costing you — financially, emotionally, and physically — to postpone action?

    Don’t only evaluate the potential downside of action. It is equally important to measure the atrocious cost of inaction. If you don’t pursue those things that excite you, where will you be in one year, five years, and ten years? How will you feel having allowed circumstance to impose itself upon you and having allowed ten more years of your finite life to pass doing what you know will not fulfill you? If you telescope out 10 years and know with 100% certainty that it is a path of disappointment and regret, and if we define risk as “the likelihood of an irreversible negative outcome,” inaction is the greatest risk of all.

  7. What are you waiting for?

    If you cannot answer this without resorting to the previously rejected concept of good timing, the answer is simple: You’re afraid, just like the rest of the world. Measure the cost of inaction, realize the unlikelihood and repairability of most missteps, and develop the most important habit of those who excel and enjoy doing so: action.

System Reset

  • “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

Doing the unrealistic is easier than doing the realistic

  • If you are insecure, guess what? The rest of the world is, too. Do not overestimate the competition and underestimate yourself. You are better than you think.

Comfort Challenge

  • The most important actions are never comfortable

Step 2-E is for elimination

  • “One does not accumulate but eliminate. It is not daily increase but daily decrease. The height of cultivation always runs to simplicity.” — Bruce Lee
  • Being busy is a form of laziness—lazy thinking and indiscriminate action

The 9-5 Illusion and Parkinson’s Law

  • Since we have 8 hours to fill, we fill 8 hours. If we had 15, we would fill 15. If we have an emergency and need to suddenly leave work in 2 hours but have pending deadlines, we miraculously complete those assignments in 2 hours.

Questions and actions

  • You are the average of the five people you associate with most, so do not underestimate the effects of your pessimistic, unambitious, or disorganized friends. If someone isn’t making you stronger, they’re making you weaker.

The low information diet

  • “Reading, after a certain age, diverts the mind too much from its creative pursuits. Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking.” — Albert Einstein

Q&A: Questions And Actions

  • “Learning to ignore things is one of the great paths to inner peace.” — ROBERT J. SAWYER
  • More is not better, and stopping something is often 10 times better than finishing it. Develop the habit of non finishing that which is boring or unproductive if a boss isn’t demanding it.

Interrupting interruption and the art of refusal

  • “Do your own thinking independently. Be the chess player, not the chess piece.” — Ralph Charell

But I am an employee, how does this help me?

  • If I can do it better than an assistant, why should I pay them at all? Because the goal is to free your time to focus on bigger and better things.

Lifestyle design in action

  • Don’t call it a problem if you can avoid it.

Income autopilot 1

  • “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

Why to begin with end in mind: A cautionary tale

  • Creating demand is hard. Filling demand is much easier. Don’t create a product, then seek someone to sell it to. Find a market — define your customers — then find or develop a product for them.
  • It is said that if everyone is your customer, then no one is your customer.
  • The main benefit of your product should be explainable in one sentence or phrase. How is it different and why should I buy it? ONE sentence or phrase, folks. Apple did an excellent job of this with the iPod. Instead of using the usual industry jargon with GB, bandwidth, and so forth, they simply said, “1,000 songs in your pocket.” Done deal. Keep it simple and do not move ahead with a product until you can do this without confusing people.

Tools and tricks

  • Reinventing the wheel is expensive—become an astute observer of what is already working and adapt it.

Income autopilot 3

MBA (Management by Absence)

  • “A company is stronger if it is bound by love rather than by fear. If the employees come first, then they’re happy.” — Herb Kelleher

How to escape the office

  • “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

Caste to castaway

  • Work wherever and whenever you want, but get your work done.

Question and actions

  • Don’t underestimate how much your company needs you.

Beyond Repair

  • “All courses of action are risky, so prudence is not in avoiding danger (it’s impossible), but calculating risk and acting decisively. Make mistakes of ambition and not mistakes of sloth. Develop the strength to do bold things, not the strength to suffer.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince

Pride and punishment

  • “But, you don’t understand my situation. It’s complicated!” But is it really? Don’t confuse the complex with the difficult. Most situations are simple — many are just emotionally difficult to act upon. The problem and the solution are usually obvious and simple. It’s not that you don’t know what to do. Of course you do. You are just terrified that you might end up worse off than you are now. I’ll tell you right now: If you’re at this point, you won’t be worse off.

Questions and Actions

  • “Only those who are asleep make no mistakes.” — Ingvar Kamprad, founder of IKEA, world’s largest furniture brand
  • In the world of action and negotiation, there is one principle that governs all others: The person who has more options has more power.

The Birth of Mini-Retirements and the Death of Vacations

  • “There is more to life than increasing its speed.” — Mohandas Gandhi
  • Learn to slow down

Postpartum Depression: It’s Normal

  • Man is so made that he can only find relaxation from one kind of labor by taking up another. — ANATOLE FRANCE, author of The Crime of Sylvestre Bonnard
  • Too much free time is no more than fertilizer for self-doubt and assorted mental tail-chasing.

Frustrations and Doubts: You’re Not Alone

  • “People say that what we are seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think this is what we’re really seeking. I think what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive.” — JOSEPH CAMPBELL,The Power of Myth
  • If you can’t define it or act upon it, forget it.

The Point of It All: Drumroll, Please

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

Questions and Actions

  • “The miracle is not to walk on water. The miracle is to walk on the green earth, dwelling deeply in the present moment and feeling truly alive.” — THICH NHAT HANH
  • Full-time work isn’t bad if it’s what you’d rather be doing.

The Top 13 New Rich Mistakes

  • If you don’t make mistakes, you’re not working on hard enough problems.
  • One of the most universal causes of self-doubt and depression: trying to impress people you don’t like.
  • Money doesn’t change you; it reveals who you are when you no longer have to be nice.

The choice minimal lifestyle: 6 formulas for more output and less overwhelm

  • Is your weekend really free if you find a crisis in the inbox Saturday morning that you can’t address until Monday morning?
  • If you don’t prioritize, everything seems urgent and important.
  • Work is not all of life.
  • Never tell yourself “I’ll just get it done this weekend.”
  • Being busy is not the same as being productive.

Hope you learnt something valuable from this extract. Thank you for reading.

Image Credits: Cover Image by Kevin Bhagat from Unsplash