The 4 Hour Work Week- What’s The Definition Of Success

I’ve just finished listening to the audio version (expanded and updated) of The 4 Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferris and I wish I’d read it (or listened to it) when it was first published because it’s the kind of book that if you put what it teaches you into practice it could totally change your life. It forces you to really look at what’s the definition of success you are working towards and is it really what you want? Is millions of dollars in the bank what you want or do you want to experience what you believe millions of dollars in the bank would allow you to do? Is there another way that you can have that experience without having millions of  dollars in the bank? The answer is yes, through lifestyle design.

What Is Lifestyle Design?

Lifestyle design allows you to test different lifestyles without committing to a ten or twenty year retirement plan that can fail due to forces outside your control, it’s much more flexible than multi staged career planning and allows you to explore uncommon options regardless of what stage of life you are at. Lifestyle design is for anyone who is sick of the “deferred life plan” and wants to experience the best life has to offer right now, the goal is freedom of time and place and to use them however you want to.

Join The New Rich

According to Ferris the New Rich (NR) are those that abandon the deferred life plan and create luxury lifestyles in the present using the currency of time and mobility, or what he calls Lifestyle Design (LD). In the book he talks about his journey from office worker to member of the NR and shows us how to duplicate it and follow his formula. He shows us that there is a way to escape the rat race and gives us the tools to achieve it, a way to get the rewards of hard work without having to wait until the end of our lives. In other words, freedom is a choice and you can choose it right now.

Test The Assumptions You’re Working With

Is your definition of success forcing you to spend the best years of your life constantly working so you can enjoy the pot of gold at the end? How do your decisions change if retirement isn’t an option? What if you could sample a “mini retirement” before reaching your actual retirement? Do you have to work like a slave to be able to live like a millionaire? These are the questions Ferris asked himself that brought him to the conclusion that the rules we’re all working under in the “real world”are a fragile collection of socially reinforced illusions.

What Makes This Book Different

Firstly, Ferris doesn’t spend a lot of time discussing the problem, he assumes that if we’ve picked up his book we’re spending our existence doing something unfulfilling. Secondly, his book is not 4-hour-workweekabout saving or sacrificing the now so we can have something better later, he believes we should be able to have fun and make a profit. Thirdly, this book is not about finding your dream job, it’s about freeing up time and automating income. According to Ferris we need to be DEAL makers because reality is negotiable, rules can be bent or broken (outside science or law) and we don’t have to be unethical.


The book is divided into four sections each of which provides one of the ingredients for Lifestyle Design or LD

  • DEFINITION- define exactly what you want and what’s important. It introduces the rules and objectives of this new game. This section explains the LD recipe and fundamentals
  • ELIMINATION- time management is obselete, increase your per hour results by ignoring the unimportant and creating a low information diet. This section provides the first ingredient for LD, TIME.
  • AUTOMATION- put cashflow on auto pilot using geographic arbritage and using outsourcing. This section provides the second ingredient for LD, INCOME.
  • LIBERATION- introduces mini retirements and how to escape the boss. It’s about breaking the bonds that confine you to a single location. This section provides the third ingredient for LD, MOBILITY.

The D.E.A.L process will turn you into an entrepreneur in the purest meaning of the word of “one who shifts economic resources out of an area of lower and into an area of higher yield” even if you’re not interested in being an entrepreneur in the modern sense of the word.

What Makes The Difference?

What separates the New Rich or NR from the deferrers or D? The NR can be separated from the crowd based on their goals that reflect very distinct philosophies, even when the goals appear similar. Some examples are; D- to work for yourself, NR- to have others work for you, D- to work when you want to, NR- to prevent work for works sake and to do the minimum necessary for maximum effect, D- to retire early or young, NR- to distribute recovery periods (many retirements) on a regular basis, inactivity is not the goal but doing that which excites you is, D- to buy all the things you want to have, NR- to do all the things you want to do and be all the things you want to be.

Don’t Accumulate, Eliminate!

Forget about time management, being busy is a form of laziness and used to avoid the few critically important but uncomfortable actions. The options for creating busyness are limitless. You need to learn to accomplish more by doing less, the goal is to decrease the amount of work and increase income, setting the stage up for automation and in turn liberation. Learn the difference between efficiency and effectiveness. Doing something unimportant well does not make it important and just because a task requires a lot of time doesn’t make it important. What you do is much more important than how you do it, efficiency is still important but it’s useless unless it’s applied to the right things. To know what’s important learn Pareto’s principle or the 80-20 principle.

Outsource Your Life

The book goes into a lot of detail about how to outsource tasks to virtual assistants if possible and Ferris has a couple of golden rules for this. The first rule is that each outsourced task must be both time consuming and well defined. The second rule is to have fun with it, being effective doesn’t mean being serious all the time.

Put Your Income On Autopilot

This section of the book goes into a lot of detail about how to create an automated vehicle or business for generating cashflow without consuming time or with minimal time consumption once it’s set up. One important rule here is to start with the end in mind.

Unrestricted Mobility

More and more employees and employers are allowing technology to reduce costs and increase mobility when it comes to deciding where the work is done. As entrepreneurs the same is true, work whenever and wherever you want but get the work done, that’s the new mantra.

Embracing The Mobile Lifestyle- Mini Retirements

This is the next step if you’ve worked your way through eliminating, automating and cutting the bonds that hold you to working in one location, it’s time to explore the world. Here Ferris discusses the possibilities and options you’ll have as you decide how you will spend the free time you’ve created.


The audio book has 38 chapters that go into a lot of detail not only with motivation but with a massive amount of techniques, strategies, tips and examples of how to free yourself from being severely underpaid and overworked.


I highly recommend reading The 4 Hour Workweek if you are sick of the deferred life that we’ve all been sold, I can see I will come back to it several times because of the huge amount of information it contains.

Thank you for reading and feel free to leave any comments below






  1. I have to tell you that I have been following Tim Ferris from bullet proof coffee to the 4 hour work week. I absolutely love the ideals he espouses. Great blog!

    • Thanks for the comment and positive feedback Fellow blogger, I appreciate it. Glad you enjoyed the post. Cheers

  2. Hey Diego,

    The book sounds like a very interesting and insightful read.
    I love the way you have pointed out its advantages.
    Thanks for the detailed review.

    • Thanks for the comment Asen, I’m glad you found the review useful. Feel free to give me feedback any time. Cheers

  3. Sounds like a book that turns the concepts that many wealth creation books teach upside down. The idea that you can create wealth while still enjoying a lifestyle is really confronting to my current beliefs. I have heard Jim Rohn on one of his videos I found on YouTube say “you are either making a living or designing a life”. Do you think that’s what the author is trying to get at with his concept.

    • Hi Raul, this book is very different to a lot of other wealth creation books and you really have to read it to know what I’m talking about. I actually listened to it twice before I understood some of the concepts. One of the examples he gives is of a man who is able to lose between half a million to a million dollars in vegas in one weekend but hates his life, Ferris calls people like this the living dead. His idea is that you need to have fun AND profit, otherwise why bother.The book is about the lifestyle design concept but I’m not sure if that’s what Jim Rohn was referring to. If you get a chance read it, it will definitely open your mind to some new ideas. Thanks for your comment

  4. Thanks Diego for the introduction to this radically new concept .

    I too often feel “stuck ” in ” old age ” thinking and unfortunately it has cost me a lot in ” time money ” .

    This is a very interesting article and I enjoyed reading it . Continue your great work and thanks for the inspiration !


    • Hi Paul, thanks for your comment, I’m glad you enjoyed the post. We all get “stuck” (including me) in old ways of thinking but unfortunately if we don’t change we get left behind because the world is changing too fast for a lot of us and just because something we did worked yesterday doesn’t mean it will work today. The key is to enjoy learning and accept it as a life long process. All the best, cheers.

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