It all began 4 years ago when I first stumbled upon the phrase 4 hour work week from a regular blog I was following. Being a a full time employee at the time, I could not fathom how it is even possible to work anything less than 10 hours a day not to mention 4 hours a week and still earn the same if not more. So that definitely piqued my interest, and I began to research more about this ridiculous concept.
4 hour work week is a term coined by Tim Ferriss, author of the NY Times best seller book of the same title, ‘The Four Hour Work Week’. Essentially, the book explores a new lifestyle design that preaches the concept of outsourcing, automating and eliminating inefficiencies in your life . The most important concept I got away from this book is that we should live our current lives to the way we want, and not deferring our best laid plans for our later years in life when there are even more uncertainties and risks then.
It is also in this book that Tim introduces the idea of mini retirement. Once we have eliminated inefficiencies, outsourced redundancies and automated systems in our life that would otherwise bind us to one location, then we can indulge in some modern day fairy tales such as working remotely and taking extended time off to explore the world. Contrary to popular beliefs, a mini retirement is not a holiday. It entails relocating to a new place for one to six months every year before going back to your home base. It is not an escape from our life troubles, nor is it something that we do to escape boredom. It is a conscious journey that we undertake to break away from negative routines and to create a blank slate. Take this time to reinvigorate our soul, start a new project, or just take in some new perspectives.
That very idea struck a deep chord within me because I wanted to be ‘location free’. Not only because I love traveling and living in new places, but I also happen to go back to my hometown Penang quite often to visit my folks. When you fly overseas more than twice a year every year, it gets quite taxing on the wallet, plus your boss does not look on this favourably as well. After all, a good employee should always limit the number of holidays they take, the less the better of course. Otherwise, you obviously have too much free time and are not working hard enough. In the end, I feel like I’m being caged to my office, with only 2 windows of freedom per year to fly out into the wild.
I want to work efficiently on my own terms without being shackled to the traditional 40 hour week system. I just couldn’t figure it out how to solve the equation until Tim Ferriss showed me the blueprint to the possibilities of life outside the cubicle. I was truly excited that there is someone out there who understands my frustrations and has accomplished what I want to achieve. At the end of the book, I began to plot our first mini retirement.
Tim did not advise everyone to quit their job to undertake a mini retirement, in fact it is even better if you were able to negotiate a suitable remote working arrangement. I’m a huge believer in working efficiently and getting things done, instead of filling time in the office to meet the timesheet quota. Unfortunately in my former industry, this is unheard of and almost impossible. I knew I’m left with only one option.
The last 4 years felt like 10 years. I lost count of the numerous sleepless nights, shouting matches and tears that were shed into our multiple failed projects and ventures. I’m not going to lie, it was a long journey of hard work, with constant emotional and mental stress before we got to see a glimpse of light at the end of the tunnel. Ultimately, the reward for me was walking into the office on 5th of October 2014 and handing in my resignation letter.
Dear Tim Ferriss, You ‘forgot’ to mention in your book how physically, mentally and emotionally tough it is to achieve this 4 hour work week lifestyle. We’re not quite there yet, but have achieved our one of our dreams to undertake our first mini retirement. Thank you for planting that seed in our minds 4 years ago. Sincerely, Debbie & Robin