The Falacy of the Four Hour Workweek
April 21, 2009
In my work I’ve had many opportunities to meet with college age families and individuals. I’ve also met with many young professionals. In these meetings there is a certain “type” that appears about once every ten or so meetings. This is the self-help / retire early / get rick quick person. These are the people who not only watch the seminars from the rich gurus, but decide they want that lifestyle for themselves.
I have no problem with the changing attitudes about retirement. Retirement is no longer the age where your body can’t work any more so you sit in the lay-z boy and watch Jeopardy all day. Now it’s the time of your life where if you don’t want to work, you don’t have to. That’s great! There’s nothing better than working for yourself rather than for money.
The problem is the increasing attitude of “and I want it NOW!” That pervasive sense of entitlement that seems to have completely absorbed the younger generations.
The young people (and occasionally people in their thirties and forties!) who I’m talking about usually have this to say for themselves: “I see myself as retired in 5 years at about one or two hundred thousand dollars per year from residual income.”
I always find it remarkable that they all use 5 years as their time horizon, and they all use the phrase “residual income.”
Almost none of them have a plan to achieve it beyond “I want to own several businesses and real estate.”
Then there’s the growing ranks of the four hour workweek club. These are they who want to do the minimum possible to gain the minimum income possible to live the retirement lifestyle they envision for themselves immediately.
What both of these groups fail to acknowledge is that they endlessly covet what they don’t have, and fail to recognize the value of working hard for something better. They seek to follow the easiest path to misery in luxury.
What I don’t want to say is that retiring at 30 is bad. What I don’t mean is that wealth is somehow a negative thing. What I am saying is that the younger generation, myself included, sees work as something to avoid. Somehow an honest day’s work has become equated with slavery. We’ve been given all we need for the first 20 years of our lives and then tossed to the “real world” and expected to totally embrace self sufficiency. It’s no wonder that so many move back home with their parents, even in their 30s.
The fallacy of the four hour workweek is that it can’t bring satisfaction – only distraction.
We need to learn to work and recognize the happiness we can get out of simply doing it, no matter what type of work it is. A person who works and produces is the person most likely to find happiness and grow as an individual. The person waiting endlessly for their entitled good life is the endlessly miserable one, though living in comfortable ease.
See what Mike Rowe has to say about it here: http://www.ted.com/talks/mike_rowe_celebrates_dirty_jobs.html