Book Review – The 4 Hour Workweek – Expanded and Updated

The world changes, grows, and shifts.  I’m sure this isn’t a surprise to anyone reading this.  Unfortunately, books do not; once a book is published, the words contained within do not change, however much they might no longer apply to the world as it has become.  To counteract this trend, publishers tend to release new and expanded editions; I noted when I first reviewed the 4 Hour Workweek that just such an edition had been released shortly prior to me reviewing the original edition.

The 4-Hour Workweek, Expanded and Updated is that new edition, and boasts more than one hundred pages of new and up to date content.  Does the new content make the old book obsolete, or simply pad the length and give the publishers a reason to charge you twice for the same content?  As always, let’s read on to find out.

Summary

The 4 Hour Workweek – Expanded and Updated opens with a few notes from Tim Ferriss as to why he updated the book, including how he felt the lessons included were still relevant (and perhaps even more relevant) following the economic downturn in 2008.  Then, as in the first edition, there is an FAQ section directed at those who doubt the methods contained within, as well as Tim’s life story leading up to the publication of this book.

The first section of the book is entitled D is for Definition, and is about defining your ideal lifestyle.  Chapter one opens with comparisons between the New Rich (those who follow the lifestyle design that the book advocates) and the Deferrers (those who save and hope to have a traditional retirement in the future).  The chapter ends, as all the chapters in the new edition do, with notes from some readers who have put the principles in the first book into action.

Chapter two looks at some of the rules of the New Rich (the NR, as they are referred to in the book) and how to pursue that lifestyle, including a set of Questions and Actions at the back of the chapter (as with most chapters) to help change your mindset.  The third chapter asks you to define your worst case scenario if pursuing a NR lifestyle goes wrong, and how you lessen the risk.

The fourth chapter ends the section by providing methods for changing your mindset in regards to reaching such a seemingly impossible goal, including creating a ‘Dreamline’ to break the goal down into easier to obtain pieces.  It is also the first chapter to include a Comfort Challenge, ways of getting past your embarrassment and learning to embrace an unusual lifestyle.

The second section of the book is E is for Elimination, covering ways to cut down the time you need to spend making money so you have more time to enjoy your money.  The fifth chapter covers alternatives to traditional time management, introducing the 80/20 Rule (you will get 80% of your results out of 20% of your effort) and Parkinson’s Law (tasks will expand to fill the time allotted to complete them), as guides to new ways to looking at your time and efforts.

Chapter six is about maintaining a low information diet, cutting down the amount of unnecessary information you consume. limiting what you read and watch to keep your mind from being overwhelmed.  Chapter seven is about taking care of the major eliminations in your life.  These interruptions include Time Wasters, Time Consumers, and Empowerment Failures.

The third section of the book, A is for Automation, is about building a source of income that you can basically set and forget, one that requires only brief amounts of input from you to function.  Chapter eight discusses finding a virtual assistant, someone who can help manage your business (and real life) while your spend your time having fun.

Chapters nine through eleven are about creating a source of income with the end goal of automating it, allowing you to draw an income with little actual work.  Chapter nine focuses on finding an idea for a product (referred to as a ‘Muse’) that can be automated once you’ve started to sell a decent amount (products with niche appeal, but a sizable market).  Chapter ten is about testing the Muse, ensuring that there is enough of a demand for the product before putting too much energy into it.  (The updated edition provides a LOT of online tools to make the testing easier.)  The eleventh chapter is then about how to go from the successful, but somewhat time intensive, business you created to one that requires little input from you, but still makes high profits.  It focuses on ways you can outsource nearly every aspect of your new business, in order to leave yourself lots of free time while still drawing in a substantial income.

The last section is L is for Liberation, and covers ways to take yourself out of the daily grind (and in many cases, the country).  It starts with chapter twelve, covering how to negotiate a remote work arrangement with your boss, and thus be able to live anywhere while still getting a paycheck.  Chapter thirteen shows what to do if that’s not an option, providing advice on how to determine if your job isn’t worth saving and then killing it.

What should you do with your new-found free time?  Chapter fourteen answers with one big suggestion, mini-retirements; these half vacation, half living abroad arrangements are discussed in great detail, with the book almost becoming a travel guide for one chapter.  If that doesn’t give you enough fulfillment, the fifteenth chapter covers ways to fill the void, from doing charitable work to pursuing your dream vocation (not merely the job you had been doing to keep the money coming in).

The sixteenth chapter covers some common NR mistakes that are made in lifestyle design, from pursuing work for the sake of work to making non-time-sensitive issues urgent.  The Last Chapter (which is no longer the last part of the book) shares a poem about the importance of slowing down and enjoying life.

The book concludes with a section entitled Last but Not Least, which includes a number of items, many new to the revised edition.  There is a best of the blog section, covering some of Ferriss’s favorite posts from his blog.  Then there are case studies from numerous readers who applied the 4 Hour Workweek principles and are now enjoying life with a NR lifestyle.  The book finishes with a list of the few books Tim really recommends reading, as well as bonus material that is available on the web.

Pros

Most of the pros from the original books remain intact; the book is definitely unique amongst personal finance books.  (Which is one reason I included it in my 6 Best Books I’ve Read So Far.)  It remains informative and filled with lots of resources (even more so than before, between the expanded Tools and Tricks sections at the end of most chapters to the comments from readers that were included).  The procedures in the book are outlined clearly and in an easy to follow manner, allowing most anyone to put them into practice, as illustrated again by the numerous comments from readers of the first book.

Cons

Alas, many of the cons from the first book remain, as well; Ferriss’s tone is quite boastful at times, and many of the techniques are only useful if you’re a white collar worker.  The new material, while interesting, doesn’t really do much to change the nuts and bolts of the book itself; if you’ve read the first edition, there probably isn’t enough (useful) new material in the book to justify buying the expanded and updated edition.

Overall

The 4-Hour Workweek, Expanded and Updated is definitely an interesting, inspiring, and in contrast to many such books (*cough*Rich Dad, Poor Dad*cough*), filled with many useful resources and step by step instructions.  If you have read the original version, though, the ‘expanded and updated’ material alone is probably not enough to warrant purchasing the book again.  That said, if you haven’t read the 4 Hour Workweek yet, this edition is probably where you should look.

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