Making Work Work


4-hour-work-week-1.pngA book title can conjure up all sorts of fantasies and wishful thinking because, after all, a title’s purpose is to attract readers.  Sometimes the promise made by the title is not kept, but in the case of the book The Four Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss, it is.

If you’re like the average citizen of almost any developed country, you’ve spent your work life on a daily eight hour cycle, and the prospect of piling eight hours of work each day into four hours a week has to be an attractive proposition.  You may question how it could be possible to work so few hours a week, but Ferriss does a masterful job of explaining his formula and several key principles that work for him. I’ll address just two of these principles in this post because they get at the core of his philosophy of life and work.KNOW WHAT YOU WANT AND NEED

For the author, being rich does not only refer to having massive amounts of money. In fact, he’s defined the “new rich” as those who live the life they’ve designed including time for activities they love and just the right amount of money necessary to pursue them. Being rich then refers to a state of mind and a set of priorities that make room for pursuing passions, hobbies, and the things you’ve always wanted to do but often put off until later -- or maybe taking a vacation or beginning retirement.

Ferriss believes that a deferred life is a wasted life. He rejects the notion that anyone has to wait for some future milestone in order to live the life of his or her dreams. He believes in the power of now and pursues his love of travel and his thirst for excitement, adventure and risk-taking now. In the process of living his dream life, Ferriss has become a kickboxing champion, a world-class tango competitor, and a scuba diver, among others. He has been able to pursue these activities while most of us restrict ourselves to our work-a-day lives.

You might ask: How does Ferriss sustain himself? Does he live off of the interest from his investments or courtesy of a trust fund? Neither option applies, and that brings me to a second principle that guides the author’s “new rich” life.


Ferriss has fashioned his life around a principle that for many people seems impossible to achieve. The idea that you can build your work around the elements of your desired life sounds inspirational to most, and absurd to others.  Yet, this is exactly how Ferriss’ four hours of work per week works.

He’s decided on his priorities that include days, weeks and even months at a time available for what you would call his leisure activities, but he defines these activities as normal, regular and everyday. In order to live this way, Ferriss has outsourced the 80% plus of the regular, customary tasks that entangle most people and burn up a bunch of time, which include reading email, servicing customers and being available to everyone on a 24/7 basis. He simply does not allocate more than four hours of time for these tasks each week.

Ferriss usually spends four hours on Monday’s checking the few emails he does get – especially those that have bubbled up for his personal handling because they exceed the authority of his virtual, outsourced handlers who care for most of the day-to-day tasks for him. He’s designed his working model with outsourced resources so that he can spend Mondays resolving major problems, communicating with friends and family and dealing with whatever is necessary to maintain the life and style he’s designed for himself. Luckily for Ferriss, issues requiring his intervention are few and far between.

Here are some of the reasons Ferriss’ “life by design” model works for him and can work for almost anyone:

  • He’s automated his business life so that few personal touches are required of him.

  • He’s empowered outsourced people, who handle 95% of his business problems, to do whatever it takes to resolve customer issues.  Once their defined dollar threshold for giving customers credits or refunds and caring for any other problems is reached, then and only then are issues referred to Ferriss.

  • The people Ferriss communicates with regularly, including family and friends, understand that Monday is the day to reach him so their feelings are not hurt or egos bruised because of no response from him during the rest of week. He has educated those in his life to accommodate the life he’s designed.

  • If an emergency arises, he’s put a process in place for him to respond, and emergencies are the exception, not the rule.


Ferriss’ book and his life demonstrate that clarity about what is most important to you and a commitment to change your thinking about what is possible are what’s necessary to achieve a this kind of breakthrough.

Paradigms – your collection of beliefs about how things are and how the world operates – can either empower you to achieve a bold vision of your ideal life or stop you dead in your tracks. Ferriss has shared his version of a successful life free of the constraints associated with how things are supposed to work.  He’s proven that by rejecting limiting paradigms about what is possible, he’s been able to shape a life that puts work in its proper place - inside of the lifestyle he has chosen.

You too can build a life that work fits into. The alternative is to work all the time wishing you had a better quality of life. Perhaps Timothy Ferriss’ version of the “new rich” life is not for you, but just be sure that you know how you want your life to work.

Get the support you need to take the first step, and know that the Best Year Yet® system, built on transformational principles, is tailor-made for just this kind of breakthrough!

About the Author

BYYWhosWhoPatriciaThomas.pngBased in the New York City area, Pat Thomas is a Best Year Yet® Partner, Executive Coach and Management Consultant who uses her years of corporate experience and prior board affiliations to build on the capacity of nonprofit leaders, their teams and boards to deliver on the vision and mission of their organizations. Contact Pat at her website: and via email at

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