There’s lots I love about this book, but if I had to pick a single thing, it was that the author Tim Ferriss opened up my eyes to the idea of “lifestyle design.” This is the it-seems-simple idea that you have complete control over the path your life goes.
The more serious breakdown for me was showing me that there was another, completely legitimate and open pathway through life besides working-til-you-retire-and-then-have-fun. I had been raised with the idea that you work hard, save for retirement, and that’s finally when you get to travel and do things beyond the home, beyond the 2-3 weeks a year you got for vacation.
I had a heads up that this might not be the only way to do things when I got into tech. As I had to explain to my very nervous mom ( even though I was in my early 30s ), that in tech it still might be possible to get a job, work for 25 years, and then retire… it was certainly not the norm. Jumping jobs was the norm, especially since the .com boom. And the way of looking at work that I’d grown up with wasn’t going to work in modern-day Tech.
It was a while later that I stumbled onto the 4 Hour Work Week. Where I learned this simple fact:
I could sprinkle my retirement throughout my life.
This seems like a no-duh thing, but for me it wasn’t. Ferriss breaks it down in serious detail in the book, but it definitely helped me see that not only was it possible, but much more alluring and a better fit for me than the more traditional models. I wanted to travel. I wanted to experience. I wanted to enjoy my life… not so much learn to live with things I’d been handed.
I’m still working at this, still nowhere near as “free” as I’d like to be, but I’m definitely on the path.
For me, that looks like this: not needing or having a lot of stuff. Drawing most of my happiness from doing enjoyable things, learning, experiencing great events and people, making deeply satisfying friendships, finding a partner who shares this point of view. It also involves being geographically independent from work. I love the office, the people, but I want it to be my decision to go in, or not. As I get a bit older, it also more and more involves freedom from 9-5. I have taken a job in a field that is very much 9-5 and hacked, bent, folded, spindled, and mutilated that about as far as it can be pushed from the norm… but I’m still accountable. At least at this moment. But as I’ve said, I’m working on that.
I want to wake up and be able to spend all day enjoying a hobby, a place, or a person. If I don’t feel like earning that day, then I want the option to not work. I don’t want to have to ask someone, I just want to be able to do it. I enjoy working with people, I think I am just tired of the idea of working for people. Besides myself, I mean.
Don’t get me wrong; I have been incredibly lucky with the bosses and environments I’ve been a part of. But I’d like to try my hand at being more free. Designing my life, as Tim says.
So far, that’s going pretty well. Stay tuned.