The 4-Hour Workweek: Working Less, Living More

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The other day, I started reading The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss. So far from what I started reading, he goes into the “why” of working less instead of the “how”. And I have to say, I find it quite refreshing. It reminds me of why I wanted to become an entrepreneur vs. working a 9-5 job. But even moreso, it has me thinking about my lifestyle design, what I truly want out of life vs. what I “should” be doing, or what everyone else is doing.

While not working a traditional 9-5 job and having much more leisure time than some of my peers, I struggled from this mindset of having to “be on” all the time so to speak. What I mean by “be on” is that I have to be “productive”, or that everything that I do has to be intentional, has to have greater meaning. But after reading almost 50 pages of The 4-Hour Workweek, he summarized what I had been feeling but somewhat resisting:

“Doing less meaningless work, so that you can focus on things of greater personal importance, is NOT laziness. This is hard for most to accept, because our culture tends to reward personal sacrifice instead of personal productivity.”

Tim Ferriss, The 4-Hour Workweek (page 44)

Right on the money! This is the problem that I’ve often struggled with in society: people often reward and even glamorize sacrifice. Okay, I get it in one sense. Some of our parents, grandparents, and ancestors in general had to push their way through to make a living and keep their families safe/healthy. On the other hand, we have so many technological advances and whatnot in our society that we don’t necessarily need to be working as hard as we did in the past. There’s so many resources at our disposal.

And on the other hand, isn’t it selfish for people to push others to work so hard when there is a much simpler way of living? For example, would you make someone hand-wash all their clothes when they could simply use the washing machine? Would you make someone physically run to the store five miles away when they could use transportation instead? It would be ridiculous, and yet people have the same attitude when it comes to work.

People don’t want others “freeloading off the system” that they themselves worked so hard contributing to. But the thing is, most people didn’t even need to be working so hard in the first place. Most jobs don’t require such precision or effort. Some jobs can even be taken care of by technology or AI. Yet, so many people resist this change. They’re scared of letting go of an old way of living for the sake of their own comfort in their beliefs. But could you imagine if instead of people struggling and stressing out all the time, that people were truly enjoying their lives, smiling more, laughing, and just healthier overall? It may seem impossible, but this kind of lifestyle is within reach for most of us who even have access to the internet.

Plus, imagine if we had more time to focus on big problems that this world faces vs. the 9-5 grind, issues like climate change, poverty, accessibility to drinking water, gender inequality, racism, sex trafficking, and more. Imagine if we as a collective could contribute to solving these issues vs. sitting behind a desk filing through paperwork and cold calling. Wouldn’t that be better? But of course, people would rather grind a 9-5 because it seems simpler. It’s “easier”, in that someone else (like the President) can worry about those issues, and we can just clock in and receive our paycheck.

Though of course it would be nice for people to contribute to society as well by focusing on solving those issues at a smaller scale, the benefit of not working full-time is that you would have much more leisure time to do the activities that you’d enjoy. Why wait until retirement to do those same things? For myself, it was about guilt. I thought of my parents who worked hard through all the years, and even though there were moments of vacations or get-togethers, I felt like I had to “measure up” by “giving up” so many years to “working hard” just like them. But the reality is, who said I needed to do that? Why? Perhaps they didn’t need to work so hard either.

I also think of the skills that I had when I was younger. When I was in middle school, I knew how to design basic websites, in some ways better than I know how to today. This was in the early 2000s. So if I knew I could charge people for that service, I could have made quite a bit of money, maybe even started a business with a team of web designers. And, I would have kept up with the skill. I could have done the same with graphic design or typing services. But I didn’t know. Perhaps I could have saved enough to buy a couple of properties, rent them out, live in one, or just become a digital nomad in my early 20s.

But despite missing some opportunities to make seriously good money in my youth and “retiring early”, I think in a sense I am living my life as I am retired. It’s just unfortunately, I still think about money a lot. I often think I “should” be spending less, and I sometimes think about money-making opportunities vs. what I’d do anyway. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. I do think I would benefit from making more money. I just would like to not stress over it all the time.

And that’s where this book comes in. It talked a bit about lifestyle design. So the other night, I wrote down some ideas of how I’d live my life if I had everything I needed. What are some of the activities I would do? And after writing some of it down, I realized that it wasn’t exactly out of reach. I just need to be more intentional about it.

One activity I wrote down is that I would take hip-hop dance classes. Now, I’ve done this before, but I was quite inactive and just tired in general when I would take the classes. I was kind of worried of the same now. I found a cheaper class that is much closer by, but I was worried about barely getting through half the class. But as they say, there’s never a perfect moment to do just about anything. I figured I would have to build up my strength and endurance, and the only way to do that is to just get started. I barely go for walks these days, and although I could start there, I thought dance would be much more motivating, more fun. If I had all the energy in the world, I would do it.

Travel is another activity that I would like to do. The most traveling I’ve done this year is going to MetLife Stadium for 2 K-pop concerts (BlackPink and TWICE). I’d like to go sightseeing and exploring even more. But of course, money seems to be a barrier, as I’m often worried about how much I’m spending. The same goes for buying a gaming PC (Windows) so that I can get into streaming and whatnot. But if I didn’t have to worry about resources, I would do these activities. I would stream, and I would travel. And with traveling, I’d even vlog. (Though, vlogging has another barrier that I’d need to overcome, which is the social anxiety I get from filming in public.) And then there are pleasures like dining out, roaming the city, getting my nails done, getting a massage… I’d definitely be doing more of these if I wasn’t so concerned about money.

I still have to continue reading the rest of the book, but I’m sure he’ll go over how to execute living the life you desire. He does mention how it is cheaper to live abroad vs. renting in the states. However, I’d prefer to live in the states if possible and still live my dream lifestyle. It definitely is possible. I just feel a bit of resistance, stuck in two states of being. One says I can have it all. The other says, “Yeah, but how many people actually live that way, and why do you think it could be you?”

I definitely do have some limitations compared to other people, which if you’ve followed this blog or know me in person, you might be aware of. But I think the concept of “4-hour workweek” could yield me the same results that I am looking for. That is, working when you can be productive, and living leisurely otherwise. Focusing on what you want to do, and not being pushed into obligation.

Speaking of obligation, it’s been a while since I’ve posted on my blog, my YouTube channels, my Instagram, or on Spotify/Apple Music. In a way, I dropped the expectation of having to post so frequently. There was a reason for it, though I’m kind of glad that I can engage in any of these activities whenever I want. Honestly, ideally, I’d like to be posting something somewhere once every 1-2 weeks. But of course, health comes first. I’m glad in a way that I’ve already been living the lifestyle of prioritizing good health/happiness over grinding. I just would like to lean into it more and truly live a life that I can reflect on and think, “Wow, my life is amazing.” It would be more than just about external accomplishments or accolades. I want to feel that intrinsic motivation/drive to live life to the “fullest” so to speak.

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