The Myth of the 4-Hour Work Week

Written by Scott February 15, 2011

 

The Myth of the 4-Hour Work Week

4 hours?? I doubt it.

“I’m a great believer in luck. The harder I work the more I have of it.”

~Thomas Jefferson

How many hours a week do you work? I bet it’s not four. Yeah me neither.

And I was talking to Tim Ferriss a couple weeks ago and I have news for you. Neither does he. He works 60+ hours (unless he’s launching a new best selling book in which case 60 is light).

So what on earth is all this talk about only working four hours in a week?

Everyone seems to complain to me about this whether it’s online or in person.

The thing is, I am one of the bigger Tim Ferriss fans out there. I work in an office of four close friends who all quit their jobs years ago in search of something more meaningful, after reading his book. None of us have looked back. The New Rich rarely do.

I give about ten or more copies of The 4-Hour Work Week out a year. So far my “quit rate” is about 80%. It’s that powerful.

I just picked the book back up, as I have every year since I first read it in 2007. Each year my new level of life and business experiences shed fresh light on the concepts that never quite resonated the year prior. I love it. (Being down in Argentina as I do this year’s review happens to be especially helpful.)

With that said, I am still the first to say that the idea of a four-hour work week is a myth. Yes a myth. As it should be.

You see, these people are missing the damn point.

The only reason he gave the book that title was because it got the most clicks in a google Adwords test (Tim’s an incessant tester). At first he was going to name it something like Dealing Drugs for Fun and Profit. So let’s get over the title.

We have to first understand what work is.

Work = anything that you either want to do less of or do solely for the financial benefit.

This is how Tim defines it and I’ve adopted the same.

Are you doing what you love?

This is what actually matters. Not some arbitrary number of hours spent in a day.

Are you doing work that matters? Are you doing work you actually care about?

If you aren’t then what on earth are you waiting for? When is now a good time to do what you love? There is no saving up so you’ll enjoy more later. That deferred life plan doesn’t fly. It’s just an excuse for inaction. An excuse to not get out there, take a risk and stumble upon your life’s work – You’re great work.

If your answer is Yes, then who cares how many hours your’re ‘working’? Jonathan Mead nails this in his Zero Hour Work Week. If you are living congruently, on purpose and with a boatload of passion for the dent you’re putting in the world then it doesn’t matter if you spend 4 hours a week or 80. In fact you’d probably prefer 80 over 4, if it’s that bad ass.

This is going to be a huge focus for me this year. For my writing, my coaching, this blog and beyond. There are few things more important than doing work that matters to you.

I ‘work’ my freaking ass off!!

And I love it. I could hardly sleep this morning because I couldn’t wait to spend time with one of my coaching clients, write this post, dig into a couple new investment ideas and meet with a few people in the space. I was up at 5am because all I could think about was ‘work’.

But I wasn’t anxious. I wasn’t scared. I wasn’t nervous. I wasn’t dreading something – All emotions that come with doing things that don’t matter to you.

No. I was excited. Simple as that. And with excitement anything is possible and life becomes gravy.

That’s not to say that I am not up until midnight or later writing or that I’m not in a coffee shop on a Saturday or Sunday cranking on things. I often am. But I do it because it lights my life on fire (in a good way).

Oh and I’m also working when I’m out Crossfitting or running with friends, on a date with my wife or exploring a new part of the world. All of it gives me ideas and experiences to relate and share in the work I do. Life Entrepreneurship is just that. All encompassing.

You’ve heard me say it before…

Happiness not spent today does not equal more happiness tomorrow. There is no waiting.

Trust me. You can do what matters to you and get paid for it. I spend time with people in those shoes everyday (present company included).

But there is one requirement. And it’s a big one.

You have to care. You have to care more than anything in the world that leading a meaningful life is worth it. It takes work. It takes ridiculously hard work and long hours to never stop learning, to understand yourself so that you can get a clue as to why you’re on this earth. And it never ends. But you learn to love it. You get addicted to it.

You’re reason for being may be different today than it is in a year. In fact it probably will be. It doesn’t matter. All that matters is you’re doing your life’s work right now. Because that’s all there is anyway.

May we all be fortunate enough to ‘work’ 80 hours a week. Because when your projects become your passions, the concept of work fades away and all that’s left is life, which is all you started with in the first place.

So I challenge you…

Understand yourself.

Do work that matters.

Change the world.

What are you waiting for?

What do you do everyday that truly matters to you and the world? Tell us in the comments below and may we all be inspired to do more of the same!

Do you know someone who needs a push to do work they love? Please email this to two people and share it once on twitter below. The world needs it.

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