Four Hour Work Week Debunked

Quick and dirty.

Over the past few years, I spent a lot of time reading books about how to improve my life, be happier, grow business, etc. I thought there was some “hack” out there that I could use to magically become the person I wanted to be.

No matter how happy I was, I always thought there was something else that I could be doing. There was an image in my head, a dream that somehow represented what it all was.

There is a lot of power to self improvement – books, conferences, articles…these can all have a profound impact on people, even bringing them out of depression in some cases.


But I also have found that it's temporary – when you go and get the energy from someone else, you feel like you've changed but in reality, you're just feeling a huge influx from the outside world. Most of us aren't used to high levels of positivity (sad) and it can be “earth shattering” in most cases.

What I can say is that when I step back and look at what makes me happy, it's not the shit I see on Facebook or Instagram every day. It's certainly not sitting on a beach by myself with a laptop drinking a cocktail.

Because when you stop and think about it, that moment that you are “selling” on Instagram will pass and the likes will stop coming in and you're still going to be sitting there, by yourself, probably trying to find other ways you can connect with the rest of the world. What's happening is that you need to see other people's lives so that you can remember how much you don't want theirs. Or you need them to want yours so that you can be sure that you're doing something right.

The people that actually seek out those private beach moments for themselves certainly wouldn't be sharing it on their phone, they'd be listening to the waves.

My point is that while it's great to want to improve yourself and willing to do anything to figure it out, realize that the solutions you crave are not that complicated. It's all rooted in how you feel about yourself…and no amount of positive self talk or therapy or books will ever solve that permanently. You need to make something happen for yourself….on a personal level.

Ever notice how the biggest proponents of self improvement tend to talk about how it all works AFTER they get really successful? It's because they put in all the work that no one talks about to shift their inner voice. That's why people who become successful too quickly end up being MORE depressed – they didn't put in the work.

Get excited about your own life. Stop comparing yourself to other people. Success is measured how you decide it's measured. If you're going to build or share something, do it because the world needs to see it, not because you need them to like it.

Work is NOT a bad thing. The notion of a four hour work week is simply the best title that worked for sales. The truth is that you want to be working on AWESOME SHIT all the time. That's the solution. Free time does not lead to happiness, time spent on work you love does.




  • Todd Smith December 8, 2013

    Well said my friend.

    What I like about some of your general blog posts is that you’ve been there and seen some great success (I’m sure it grows every month), but it all comes back to general needs.

    I can’t remember where I read it, but the idea was that after someone covers their expenses for the month, more money does’t directly improve happiness. The Four hour work week is a great start for a lot of people to get out of their own way. I read it years ago and always had a place in my head the somehow wrapped it all into: “living the dream”.

    Just following Tim Ferris grow and branch out over the years is a great example. He’s really branched out and I thought his blog / connections were a great secret & now he’s on TV doing what he loves. Life hacks. Congrats to him!

    Short version:
    I’ve come to find out that what I like is creating and participating in things that are fun and challenging. It may be making a cool app or competing & Raising Money for a Fight For Air Climb (American Lung Association), running a marathon…etc. A few years ago someone asked me why? Why do you do the crazy/odd things you do? I said: “I want to stimulate the motivated & inspire the uninspired!” Ever since, friends and family call these: “Todd things”.

    In terms of working four hours a week, that’s really not a dream, a dream would be to maybe only do 4 hours of boring work that I don’t like to do and leave the rest of the week open to fun stuff!

    I’ll shoot you an email in response to motivational books.

    Great post. Keep them coming.


  • Kevin December 8, 2013

    Come on Carter, when you gonna write a book??? – great post man

  • Carter Thomas Carter Thomas December 8, 2013

    @Todd – that is awesome man, you nailed it. 4 hours of “do what you gotta do” stuff and then spend the rest of your time doing things you are fired up about. I’m a huge believer in incorporating a good cause as well and glad to see you are doing the same.

    @Kevin – haha I’ve actually had a lot of people ask me about writing a book. One of these days I will! Thanks for your support.

  • Brian Ma December 8, 2013

    Whoooo hoo!!!!!

  • Tyler Kessler December 8, 2013

    Title Suggestion: The 3 Hour Workweek

    Kidding, but you’re absolutely dead on how so many of us (me included) are guilty of looking for answers outside yourself, via books/tools/seminars for the secret to happiness. It’s not that it’s a bad thing like you said, it’s just that these tools are never the whole picture as we all are individuals, experiencing life differently here on earth, and sometimes looking in the mirror and accepting yourself is a lot harder than buying the latest how-to book.

    For me, life is most satisfying when you are doing “awesome shit” as you said, and yielding your own fruit through grit…that is truly the best way I live (love) my life.

    Thanks for the post Carter, keep it up, don’t stop with these posts! 🙂

  • Daniel December 8, 2013

    That last paragraph’s epic. Pure distilled epic!

  • Martin December 9, 2013

    I totally agree with that ‘inner voice’ point. How we talk to ourselves inside is super important. And taking the time to stop the inner voice can really calm me down, especially when there’s a million things running through my head.

    great post.

  • Lauro December 9, 2013

    Well done carter, deeply inside we all are in the search of happyness.

  • dana February 11, 2014

    Nicely said. So many people think if they just had lots of money and no work they would be happy. It is quite the opposite. That is why when the economy is limited people cannot move into more dynamic work for fear of risking their livelihood and it results in depression. Good work is inner peace and purpose drivers are necessary for happiness not the other way around !

  • Leo February 17, 2014

    Nice post! Behind every successful venture stands a person that genuinely treats his “work” as a hobby.

    Tons of money doesn’t equal success, tons of happiness does… If you happen to make tons of money while working on a hobby, even better 😉


  • John (Books That Will Change Your Life) August 16, 2015

    Found this old post while researching a bit about this book and peoples reactions and takeaways. Yeh, it’s really important to enjoy the process and to enjoy putting in the work no matter what. But I also think that it’s apparent if you look at Ferriss’ lifestyle that what he means with “work” can be limited in time, but there is still an assumption to keep working on yourself, expanding your knowledge base, comfort zone and possibly personal brand almost all hours of the day – which maybe the average reader doesn’t pick up on, I don’t know.

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