Back in late 2009, I had just bought and renovated my first condo. Brian, my then-boyfriend, now-husband, had just moved in with me. Although I was 3.5 years into my first “grown up” job as a web designer, it felt like I had taken adulting to a new level. I had a mortgage, I had a serious relationship, and I had just dropped thousands of dollars on new kitchen appliances.
Not long after all of that happened, Brian introduced me to a book called The 4-Hour Workweek, by Tim Ferriss. The cover had an illustration of a guy lazily enjoying a hammock strung between two palm trees. Four hour workweek?? It seemed to good to be true, but it piqued my interest and I dove in.
Since then, the book has become a modern classic - appealing to entrepreneurs, adventurers, and anyone who is looking for a way to live life more fully. While the title might sound a bit gimmicky, The 4-Hour Workweek introduced the concept of lifestyle design to me (and the masses), and it was one of the early things that changed my life forever.
In the first section of the book, Tim shares his opinion that most of us are doing life all wrong...that we’ve been programmed to follow a specific formula for happiness, except not that many of us are actually happy. He explains that most folks are on the “deferred life plan”, socking money in the bank and waiting until they are in their 60s to retire and finally enjoy life. Not to mention, working their butts off and barely taking two weeks of vacation per year.
Tim proposes that there is a better way of doing life...that we can work less and live more fully, enjoying our best, most active years doing the things we love, instead of slaving away at a desk for 40 years. He advocates for taking mini-retirements throughout our lives, so that we can alternate between working and playing, experiencing things and places that generally don’t agree with a conventional lifestyle.
There are lots of inspiring stories in The 4-Hour Workweek of real people that decided to say “screw you” to society’s prescription for living life. One of my favorites is of a family of five that sailed around the world for a year on less than $20,000, and actually became closer in the process. Another is of a lawyer who quit his job to move to Brazil and open a surf adventure company. His colleagues and friends thought he was totally nuts, but he never looked back - and now he feels like he is living his absolute dream life.
The book goes on to explain lots of different ways that one can diverge from their path and create the life of their dreams. Some of the ideas are brilliant, some are outdated, and some I don’t exactly agree with (like hiding the fact from your remote employer that you are currently living in Thailand). But regardless of how you accomplish creating your dream life, it demonstrates that it can 100% be done, and there are lots of ways to do it that you probably haven’t thought of.
There's a Better Way...
I love how this book made me see that there was a better way of doing life. Although I didn’t immediately sell my condo, quit my job, and move to another country, it got the wheels turning in my head. It opened me up to possibilities for how I could design a life that set me on fire.
Ten years later, I totally feel like I am living my version of The 4-Hour Workweek. Most weeks I work a lot more than four hours, but I love my work, and I’m completely free from the constraints of time and place. I travel a ton, I get to play outside every day, and I spend time with friends and family all over the country.
I joyfully run my business from the road, creating things that make people smile and have meaning in their lives. I connect with customers all over the world through our shared love of the great outdoors and adventure. Sometimes I work strange hours, sometimes I work on weekends - but I don’t care - I love what I’m doing and my life feels amazing, and that’s all that matters.
If you feel like there’s more out there for you, but you can’t see how to get to your dream life, I encourage you to open yourself up to possibility. The 4-Hour Workweek may or may not be for you, but there are thousands of books now on lifestyle design, hundreds of podcasts that share inspiring, real-life stories, and probably a million YouTube videos that demonstrate how people are breaking the mold and living life to the max.
Set the intention that you want to live your dream life, and forget about the “how” for now. Let go of the “shoulds”. Become aware of your limiting beliefs, and do the work to release them. Open your mind to potential, even if you can’t see what’s going to get you "there".
When you can believe, even just a little bit, that there is a path to your dream life, even if you don’t know what that path looks like, you start to see things differently. When you open your mind, you will naturally attract new ideas, new perspectives, and new answers. When you start reprogramming your subconscious about what is possible, that is when your world can open up and when the magic starts to happen!
What books have you already read that have opened you up to possibility? What podcasts, YouTube videos, or other channels have inspired you to live the life of your dreams? Share in the comments!