4 Valuable Insights from the 4-Hour Workweek: A Free At 50 Book Review

4 Valuable Insights from the 4-Hour Workweek: A Free At 50 Book Review

Feb 02, 2022

Everyone who wants to ditch the 9-5, or own your time while in it, needs to read The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss as soon as possible.

This book didn’t create my opportunity.

And this is not a typical book review. It may have had a different impact on me than on others whose reviews are out there. The book didn’t teach me the exact method to make a gazillion dollars, but it did teach me about how to become location independent, among other things.

I may not even agree with everything in it. However, I think everyone thinking about how to be a productive employee that has control of your time or someone wanting to ditch the 9-5 forever, needs to read it.

At least read the first 86 pages and the stories at the end. If the stuff in the middle is what you decide to do to earn income dive in. Other people shouldn’t skip it altogether, but skimming is OK. I give you permission.

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Insight number 1 from The 4-Hour Workweek: Leaving the 9-5 mindset behind is not crazy.

The travesty of the GenX belief in the 9-5 tradition.

As a GenXer, shifting your mindset out of what we have been conditioned to believe, that being the first-in and last-out every single day of our career may be the toughest thing to wrap our heads around. But it’s vital.

Yes, I just used the word “conditioned.” And for a reason. I’ve talked to so many corporate escapees since my layoff (which was a blessing!) in May of 2020. And this 9-5 mindset thing is real.

So my story is that I didn’t choose to leave corporate; the pandemic caused budget constraints in my company, and I was restructured out.

That said, I had these crazy thoughts running through my brain for awhile before the layoff: I was done working for people and didn’t want to wait for retirement to own my time.

time is passing and the 4-Hour Workweek book is inspiring to have time freedom

Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya on Unsplash

What is retirement anyway?

The 4-Hour Workweek is all about this train of thought: Why wait for retirement? What is it anyway? Can you own your time?

Ferriss’ words opened my eyes to the fact that we need to enjoy every moment and do everything we want to do…while we are able to!

What if “retirement” age doesn’t come? No, I’m not being morbid but instead I’m challenging you to think about what you are “working” for. The book has some inspirational stories (not just Ferriss’) about living your life on your terms. About getting out there and seeing places, having experiences, starting now. It’s about not waiting for a day that might not even come.

Shaquille ONeal quote There are seven days in the week and someday isn't one of them.

We have been conditioned to think our success is defined by the 9-5 tradition of the following MUSTS:

  • we MUST go to college
  • we MUST get to the highest level in our profession
  • we MUST have an “impressive” title

All of this comes with constantly trying to:

  • Look busy.
  • Look effective.
  • Be visible to the right people.
  • Stay a step ahead.

Be relevant, right?

be visible and relevant online with your content

But what if filling your days doing all of this really isn’t even productive? What if you are missing time with family. Not taking the dream vacation while you are still physically able to travel?

This, my friends, is the “conditioning” I was talking about. It is a limiting belief system. Truly, a solid shift out of the 9-5 mindset is this: to understand that all of the behavior I mentioned above is unnecessary (and if I’m honest, exhausting, anxiety-ridden, and senseless). I personally visualize hamsters on a wheel, trapped in cubicles and corner offices, looking over their shoulders constantly. Painful to think about is it not?

Conclusion about insight number 1:

Insight number 1 is legit: you can ditch the limiting belief system of the 9-5 tradition and shift your mindset.

ditch the 9-5 mindset and work from anywhere set up an office outdoors and on vacation

Photo by Tyler Lastovich on Unsplash

Insight number 2 from The 4-Hour Workweek: Life is short, don’t waste it.

Again, I’m not trying to be morbid but think about this.

What IF you get to your goal retirement age (and again we are making an assumption) and you are not physically able to travel or do some of the things you want to do. What if the people you love are not around anymore.

Life is precious y’all. Too precious to miss being in control of your time.

Insight number 2 is realizing how precious life is and so is the value of ensuring you own your time.

Barbara Bush, years ago, talked about not regretting missing a conference call or a meeting (I’m paraphrasing by the way). She said you will, however, regret not spending more time with family.

Amen Barbara.

In fact, will you even remember (let alone regret!) missing that meeting?

take vacations and explore cities

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

Is your time valued by others? Story time!

I remember a lesson I learned during my legislative career. I had worked tirelessly (day and night) for over a year on a piece of legislation that felt so good to get passed and signed into law.

A year or two later, after term limits had been implemented in Michigan and a new set of legislators were around, we were sitting in House session late at night. Bills were being read in and voted on one after the other (as often happens when you are sitting around waiting for leadership to cut deals on the “big stuff”).

Suddenly, I noticed a 110-0 vote upending my work! MY WORK and the work of several others who put in a lot of time and effort. Yes, the elected officials had a little to do with it but not the hours and pain we had invested.

reminder to say no when you need to

Image by Andrew Martin from Pixabay

I said, “wait” to my boss and she said it’s ok---that the Chair of the committee stated it was just “technical changes” – but no, the changes were massive.

In fact, the lobbyist that had gotten the least out of it in his mind, had the ear of the new chair, who was completely uninformed on the topic and this specific law. And guess what? He got everything he wanted in this new bill.

On a unanimous vote, with a woman running point on the bill that had no background in the topic but was named as committee chair for political purposes- with so many newbies, the Speaker didn’t have a lot of choice making chairmanships be about experience, the original intent was eliminated.

Image by Andrew Martin from Pixabay

I say all of this to say: what was the effort worth in the end?

I’m certainly not implying that everything you do has no meaning but what I am saying is you cannot control the future of anything done at “work.”

So why stress on it? Save your emotion and your passion for the things that count. You should decide your priorities about how to spend your time and energy, don’t let a boss do that. (My authentic opinion, love it or hate it!)

Conclusion about insight number 2:

Insight number 2 confirmed through reflecting on my experiences and because as a GenXer, I’m seeing too many people leave us too early: life is short, we must enjoy it.

have your cake and eat dessert

Image by Larry White from Pixabay

Insight number 3 from The 4-Hour Workweek: You may not need as much money as you think you do, but you can earn it.

The book really broke personal finance down and enlightened me.

I mean, let’s be real: by May of 2020, many of us, including me, were already realizing “wants” vs. “needs” and how we can really go without so many things we had in our lives pre-Covid.

So after my layoff, as I read Ferriss’ words in a book that was upending (yet affirming) everything for me, the notion of sitting down and figuring out how much money I need was refreshing.

The concept is looking at the actual amount of money you require each month and each year to live the life you want. Then you build your budget from there. For me, out of the lifestyle that felt smothering and stressful, I didn’t really need massages, facials, and mani/pedis- in fact, I was saving (easily!) $500 a month because of the elimination of these things.

And eating out, craft coffee- more examples of money saved as the pandemic took hold. Coffee alone was at least $100/week, or $400+ a month!

save money by not spending it unnecessary wants during the pandemic

Image by Maklay62 from Pixabay

Priorities are personal and so is your budget.

Do not get me wrong, I occasionally treat myself, but my priorities shifted, and determining how much money I truly needed was an insight this book gave to me.

I realize we are all in different situations and our priorities vary.

That’s ok, even fantastic! You just need to figure out your priorities. One person’s monthly needs could total $2000 and another’s may be $8000- you just need to know yours so you can design the life you want.

Conclusion about insight number 3:

Insight number 3 is all about simplifying how to prioritize your financial needs: and the next insight is the affirmation you can get the lifestyle you want: maybe even ditch the 9-5.

simplify your life

Photo by Julia Karnavusha on Unsplash

Insight number 4 from The 4-Hour Workweek: You have skills, use them, and do something you love.

After years of working for others, you have skills.

You’ve learned and earned many skills. So why NOT use them to earn income?
I promise: you will be surprised how your skills can translate towards doing what you love to earn income.

Marrying your skills with your passions is something The 4-Hour Workweek helps you to do. Example: my favorite part of my last “job” was encouraging and empowering emerging leaders. And I love writing.

So why not blog to inspire and encourage others? Especially if it’s with the goal of getting people on the path into the life they want.

Conclusion about insight number 4:

Insight number 4 got me on track with my blog: I have developed a platform to share my passion for empowering others through my passion for writing. Using my skills to do something I absolutely love.

passion for writing was pursued after reading the 4-Hour Workweek by author Tim Ferriss

Image by Christine Sponchia from Pixabay

Take action and move forward, starting with bookmarking the Free At 50 blog.

The 4-Hour Workweek isn’t about minimizing your lifestyle, it’s about expanding it.

My lifestyle choice was 100% about leaving corporate life and not working for others; yours may be limiting your schedule and switching 9-5 jobs to own more of your time. Not everyone needs to ditch the 9-5 to gain insights from this book.

In fact, in addition to insights, you can even grab valuable “how-to” information! I have a friend who used Ferriss’ email templates to set up boundaries and processes in his workplace. The goal and the successful result are that he became more productive with his time and had more time to do what he loves.

Action items:

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Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay