This week, Life Training Online is reviewing The 4-Hour work Week: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich, by Timothy Ferriss, the twenty-third of fifty-two books in the 52 Personal Development Books in 52 Weeks series.
Becoming a Member of the New Rich
The 4-Hour Workweek is about changing your mindset with regards to work and life. Ferriss describes it as the mindset of what he calls the New Rich: a subculture of people who have abandoned the deferred-life plan of “save and slave” by mastering the new currencies — time and mobility — to create luxury lifestyles in the here and now.
Most people are convinced that life has to be difficult, grinding out their 9 to 5 weekdays with a far too short a weekend and an occasional vacation to break up the madness. It doesn’t have to be this way. Life doesn’t have to be hard.
This book opens your eyes to what’s possible. It teach you how to become a “dealmaker,” whose creed is “reality is negotiable”, and will change your mind about what you consider to be necessary to survive and thrive. Herein, Ferris shows you the new way.
To explain this new way, Ferris uses the acronym of D.E.A.L to lay out the process one needs to follow in order to become part of the New Rich. Today we’ll be covering the first two steps.
Step I: D is for Definition
The first step involves understanding the rules and objectives of what Ferriss refers to as the “new game.” These are the rules that the New Rich follow and without a clear understanding of these concepts, you’ll have a difficult time trying to adapt to this new lifestyle. So let’s take a look at some of these:
- Retirement Is Worst-Case-Scenario Insurance. In the mindset of the New Rich, retirement is not looked upon as the final goal, but as a hedge against the worst-case-scenario: becoming physically incapable of working and needing a reservoir of capital to survive.
Alternating periods of activity and rest are necessary for our sanity and survival. Too many of us waste away our health and personal lives working like dogs with the hope of one day retiring from it all.
The New Rich on the other hand, instead of waiting until the end of their lives to enjoy the fruits of their labor, aim to distribute “mini-retirements” throughout life. This way they can have their cake and eat it to.
- The Timing is Never Right
- Relative Income. Understanding income and wealth as the New Rich see it is one of the most important concepts to grasp.
The world sees income in a purely one-dimensional point-of-view: the dollar amount. Relative income uses two variables: the dollar and time (usually hours). According to this definition, the “I make such-and-such per year” concept is an arbitrary one. Ferris explains it in this way:
“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.” You get it?
The New Rich seek to establish their monetary goals while maintaining the highest income to time ratio possible. What use is it to have a ton of cash but no time to spend it?
- Seek out Eustress. What might come as a surprise to some of us is the fact that not all stress is bad for us. It’s important to understand that there is a difference between bad stress (distress) and good stress (eustress).
Distress is something we’re all familiar with. It is what we commonly refer to as “stress.” It’s the kind of stress which can make us weaker, less confident, and less able. Things such as destructive criticism, abusive bosses, and muscle tears.
Eustress on the other hand is stress that is good for us, makes us grow stronger, and expand. Examples of eustress are constructive criticism, role models that push us to exceed our limits, and muscle growth.
The New Rich are continually seeking ways to remove distress and seeking out eustress.
For the most important things in our lives, the timing is never right. The word “someday” is infectious and if you’re not careful, it will take your dreams to the grave with you. Whether you want to quit your job or begin that business you’ve always wanted, remember that the stars will never align and the moment will never be “just right.” The New Rich learn to take that leap of faith without all the variables known ahead of time. Of course this takes guts, but as they say, “no guts, no glory.”
Step II: E is for Elimination
The End of Time Management
The traditional time-management model advocates the results-by-volume approach to work. That is, trying to cram every second of the day with some type of activity in the most efficient way possible. This never-ending activity gives way to busyness and not productivity. The New Rich seek instead to be effective through doing more by doing less. How is this possible? Well busyness is not the answer. It’s through elimination.
Learning how to properly eliminate basically eclipses the traditional time-management model. Let’s look at two ways of doing this: The Paretto Principle and the Low-Information Diet.
- The Paretto Principle
Vilfredo Pareto was controversial Italian economist-cum-sociologist who lived in latter and early part of the 19th and 20th centuries. He observed that 80% of income in Italy went to 20% of the population. Although the original observation was in connection with income and wealth it also applies to a variety of other matters: we wear 20% of our clothes 80% of the time, we spend 80% of our time with 20% of our acquaintances etc.
If we apply this principle to how we manage our time with regards to work, you could say we probably spend 80% of our time on activities which are urgent and only 20% on the tasks which are important. The New Rich find ways of only having to work on those important tasks, thereby freeing up time to spend on things they enjoy.
- Going on the Low-Information Diet
This principle is where you learn to cultivate selective ignorance. Just as much of our society consumes way too many calories — most of them being empty calories of no nutritional value — we also consume far too much information than we can process and from the wrong sources to boot.
The New Rich lifestyle is not about massive input. It’s about increasing one’s output without having to step up the input. In fact most information out there is not only time-consuming, it is also negative, irrelevant to your goals, and outside of your influence. Cultivating a low-information diet means finding what is useful and rejecting what is useless.
Ferriss suggests trying this out by going on an immediate one-week media fast. In other words, for one entire week abstain from newspapers, magazines, audiobooks, nonmusic radio, news websites, television and no web surfing. Instead replace it with time with your family, friends, and loved ones. Spend time out in nature. Exercise.
After the week is over, as you begin to let some of this information/media come back into your life, develop the habit of asking yourself, “Will I definitely use this information for something immediate and important?” If you answer no to either needing it immediately or it being important, don’t consume it.
The 4-Hour Workweek is the twenty-third of fifty-two books in Life Training – Online’s series 52 Personal Development Books in 52 Weeks.