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He claims his methods can be applied universally, but I'm not so sure.
on August 15, 2014
I had heard a lot of people rave about this book before I finally picked it up and decided to read it for myself. I'm glad that I read it, but I don't think it was quite as life-changing for me as it was for some of my friends. Don't get me wrong, Ferriss makes some excellent points and he's got some really great tips and tricks in here, I'm just not sure how universal they really are.
First of all, when I picked up the book, I didn't expect that he was literally working only four hours a week. I thought he was just talking about ways to spend less time working, but that "The 4-Hour" just sounded good (since he now has a whole line of books with titles that start that way). Nope. Turns out he really only worked four hours every week for a few years. I hate him. Now, with his series of books and everything, that's not true so much, so I hate him less. Now his job is much more similar to what I actually want to do.
As I said, Ferriss has some great ways of eliminating clutter and busywork, including things you don't even think of as busywork. I've already started implementing some of these tips at work, and they've come in pretty handy so far. I keep meaning to get rid of a bunch of my physical clutter, but my laziness keeps getting in the way of that. I'll get around to it in the next few weeks.
I also appreciated his philosophy of taking mini-retirements throughout life, rather than one long retirement at the end of life. I never did understand the point of retirement, so Ferriss's plan sounds much more appealing to me. As he put it, retirement should be nothing more than a fail-safe in case something happens and you are physically (or mentally) incapable of working. My thoughts exactly.
My main problem with his philosophy is that it really only works if you have a product that you are not actually making, but that you can sell. For example, even if I were to quit my day job and write all day every day, I would still be working a lot. Granted, that would make my job a whole lot more portable, but I could never get away with only working four hours per week (at least not until after I sell that bestselling novel, which is such a realistic plan!) In order to do it his way, I would need to have something that is already produced, or that someone else is making (clothes, dietary supplement, etc.) where all I have to do is collect the money that comes in from those sales.
Of course, that's a lot harder than it sounds. His ways of eliminating the useless from his life are really quite impressive, and not to be underestimated, but I still wonder if someone in their twenties, who is just starting out in life, can really make his plan work? Some of his success stories include people negotiating working remotely, because they have built up value in their company. Someone who has only been working at their current job for a year or two does not have the kind of leverage necessary to do that.
Additionally, he talks about the trick to getting out of your job so you can go have that great once-in-a-lifetime adventure. He mentions considering the worst-case scenario and the fact that worst-case is not necessarily all that bad. One of his points he brings up is that, if he loses his job, he can get another one fairly easily. Well, great for him, but the original book was written before the job market collapsed, followed by this lovely "jobless recovery". I was recently unemployed for eight months and it was not fun. I, too, thought I could get another job within a few months, but that did not turn out to be the case. So, if I go spend all my money on a mini-retirement now, and then come back only to find that I can't get a job for another year, I'll be screwed. Yes, even that worst-case scenario isn't that bad. I could always move back in with my parents, but I'd really rather not. I love them, but they have enough to deal with right now, and the last thing I want to do is burden the people around me because I decided to go globe-trotting for a few months. Timothy Ferriss told me it would be fine!