Why A Four Hour Workweek Won’t Make You Happy
If you’re reading this blog, chances are that you’ve read The Four Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss. Okay, if you haven’t read it yet, you’ve heard about it somewhere.
It’s a good concept except — it won’t make you happy.
In his most famous book, Tim Ferriss shares how to achieve a career that takes up only four hours per week, freeing up the remaining hours to travel or do anything else that’s fun. Many successful people I know have followed his tips to great success, but there’s one problem with Tim’s Four Hour Workweek formula…
Why would anyone want to work only four hours per week?
You? No, not you.
Working only four hours per week sounds like an awesome excuse to live a Perpetual Seinfeld Marathon, but I have faith that you want more out of life than an excuse to slack off. Here’s why:
If you think working only four hours per week sounds fun, these are probably true:
- You hate your job.
- You think you aren’t good at what you do.
- You consider yourself “typical” and unable to do anything meaningful.
- You think the only way to contribute to the world is outside of your job.
That’s not you. You, my fellow adventurer, are different.
You’re reading this post because you believe in living every day awesomely, which means:
- You want to enjoy your job thoroughly.
- You want to learn new skills all the time.
- You know it’s up to you, and each superhero, to choose to do something awesome.
- You yearn to spend each day contributing meaningful work for the world.
If you enjoy creating and working on your projects, would four hours suffice? Hell no.
Reason #1: We’re Social Creatures
As humans, we were born highly social beings. We thrive off our interpersonal relationships. We feel happy when we form strong bonds with friends or family, and we feel pain when we see others suffering.
Tim Ferriss talks about working only four hours a week so that you can retire early and travel the world, but that’s only fun if there is a driving force behind it.
So many of the people I survey claim they dream of living on the beach or on some deserted island. It sounds wonderful, right? Relaxation, peace of mind, nature…
But will you be happy once you’re there? After a month? A year? A decade?
If you lived on a deserted island…
Could you put together solutions to other people’s problems?
Could you meet the most enlightening minds you know?
Could you form bonds with a diverse group of people?
Definitely not. We’re social creatures, and we yearn for connection. Living on a beach somewhere wouldn’t satisfy our social needs over time.
The same goes for traveling the world. Some people can hop around from place to place, thriving on the new sights and cultures, but the human desire for familiar faces and deeper connection wins out over time.
Reason #2: We Want to Grow
When we’re very young, we can’t wait until we’re older. When we grow up, we dream of being like someone else who feel has it “all figured out”. We’re always reaching out for the next thing, the next rung on the ladder.
It’s no secret that I dream of being like Oprah.
We’re never satisfied with our current state because we are naturally desire growth.
If you spent your life relaxing without creating value…
Could you grow as a person, constantly learning and applying new skills?
Could you try new experiences and occupations to see which fits you best?
Could you recreate that “YES!” feeling you get when accomplishing something awesome?
Reason #3: We Want To Create Value
The definition of the word “work” is the following:
activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a purpose or result.
Everything we do in life is to “achieve a purpose or result“, isn’t it? Everything we create — from your daughter’s kindergarten drawing to this piece of writing — is work.
So, who said “work” is what pays you money? Who put the concept of “work” next to “money”?
Our “work” is what we dedicate our time to, not just what pays us. Sometimes, there’s little value to the world in our “work”, so we find something else to do — new “work”.
It’s been about a year since I quit my corporate job in the hopes that I could create more value doing better work, and it’s been a tough ride. I’m not one of those “quit your job and make a fortune!” stories.
But I am one of those “quit your job and create awesome value!” stories.
The entrepreneurial learning curve proved to be pretty brutal. I learned, limping along from problem to problem — and eventually from solution to solution. A year later, things are finally coming together to give me the flexible lifestyle I always desired (including some time on a TEDx stage).
But I’m glad I took that plunge, even if it means working harder — or doing more work — than most people. It’s fun. I love my job. I love writing for you. I love writing for me.
I love doing what I do. I do more work because I have a big purpose to achieve. Four hours would simply not be enough to make me happy.
Happiness is living awesome work every single day.
Think passionate, not exhausted.
Think bursts of productive work, instead of working just to make money.
Think brainstorming with amazing people, not retiring early.
Think wonderful experiences, not plentiful material goods.
The whole Four Hour Workweek concept isn’t what I’m searching for.
What will make me happy is creating value for others through everything I do.