I remember when I first read the Four-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris and how logical and seemingly easy it seemed to me. Even though I knew that actually making it happen required a lot of work, guts, and maybe some luck; I could still understand how important the concepts were. Of course, many have gone on to criticize the concept of a four hour work week-- some calling it lazy, others impractical and some just straight up disbelieving its possibility But in my opinion, the book was not solely about starting some sleazy company and wandering off to some unknown island; rather it was about how to dissect, plan and make deliberate choices. Early in the book, Chapter 2 I believe, Ferris asks the reader to imagine what they would if they had 100 million dollars, what everyday concerns would become redundant and what would one really begin to care about?
Since then I think about this exercise at least once a week to see how I have come along. Personally I believe this is one of the stronger exercises one can do in order to get down to the core of the issue for most of us: if money weren't an issue what would you do? Ferris talks about dreamlining ( a way of organizing what you want, whether it be tangible or some sort of skill set, on paper ) and then outlining what action you would have to take to get there. Dreamlining is important because it helps you put your goals in perspective by helping you breakdown the amount of time and money learning a skill will take as well as determining what constitutes achieving that skill or that money.
In the majority of the book, Ferris talks about countless of productivity ideas (he talks about Parkinson's law and how it can be used to create pressure, one of my favorites), and how 80 percent of the results can come from 20 percent of the inputs : meaning that deciding what to focus on can be infinitely more productive than how much time you spend doing something. But in my opinion, these parts of the book pale in comparison to the immensity of value in the first and last parts of the book.
The later parts of the book focus on how one will continue to feel like they are contributing after they become completely financially independent Many people think that after they quit there careers, especially if it was a career they took particularly seriously, they can just relax, but the fact is, many of these professionals begin to feel empty. With nothing challenging them to succeed and step up to the plate, suddenly they feel empty and their drive to live feels diminished.
The first part of the book is the one that focuses on the mind-set and paradigms of the financially independent. Its also the part that asks the question of what would you do day to day if you had 100 million dollars.
Personally If I had 100 million dollars the first thing I would do is buy the things I need to start travelling-- a good backpack, a good, lightweight laptop, some easy to dry clothes, a world phone and maybe some other small assorted things-- and go to Japan and learn Japanese. Furthermore, I would practice my social skills substantially. In school its easy to constantly be meeting people; everyone is the same age, is for the most part always in a familiar easy to relate place, and have broad yet similar interests. Instead, I would practice my social skills talking to people in bars, clubs, parks, restaurants online etc.
Next I would tackle a physical discipline, something like rock climbing, biking, ken-do or judo, something to really stress the mind-body connection. I would seek to practice this discipline at least 1-3 times a week, on top of some exercise for conditioning purposes. I feel training the mind-body connection is very important to ensure one always has a strong grasp on the physical reality.
For the first couple of weeks I'll most likely spend the majority of my time just exploring and understanding Japanese culture. Visiting museums, parks, universities, conferences, restaurants and overall trying to be social and open. After I have settled in my surroundings, have a couple of friends, I would continue to hit Japanese hard, go out, and begin to learn a skill set, most likely either cooking, programming, or something specific like learning the intricacies of sake. I would read a shit ton, mostly on books about the things I'm interested in, particularly, bar tending, cooking, coffee, movies, photography and adventure.
The reason why I would do something so drastic is because I am young, and I feel that taking drastic measures and exposing myself to a new environment is the best way to stimulate change at its core. At the same time, exposing oneself to a new environment is the best way to truly determine what one values and cares about when everything they know is taken from them. Just imagine, if everyone you knew, the language you spoke and culture you were accustomed to, were suddenly taken away from you. What would you continue to care about? I would chose Japan because it is a culture that has always enthralled me, and also one that is relatively insulated and idiosyncratic.
By exposing myself to a new environment it is easier to let go of preconceptions and just go for it. Best of all this is an amazing experience, as strenuous or thought provoking as it maybe, I will leave knowing more about myself and the world than before I went.
So ask yourself, what would you do if finances were not an issue?