I bought Timothy Ferriss’ book with all the hope in the world that it was the answer to my problems. A 4-hour work week? Please, sign me up. I’m ready.
The cover says, “Escape the 9 – 5, live anywhere and join the new rich.” Again, yes and yes please. Who wouldn’t want this? It makes the unbearable reality of the 9 – 5 that I’ve come to hate seem like it could have a positive ending.
I mean, I don’t even have time to read, which is a death sentence to a writer. No time to read, hardly any time to write. I listen to books these days. I did manage to get through the back cover and its warning “not to read the book unless you want a new way of living.” Still on board. Definitely need a new way of living.
Here’s the thing, it’s been months since I bought it, and I haven’t cracked the book open yet. Why? Because I don’t have time to read. And while I’m sure there are some stellar ideas in the book, not reading it leaves me unable to figure out how to get down to a 4-hour work week. If only I had more time.
I find myself thinking that daily. I need more time. But is more time really what I need? Isn’t the issue really a matter of doing more of what matters to me with the time I have?
If I had the chance, I would write all day. If that were my “real” job. If I could do it the way I want to – setting my own hours, writing about what matters to me, having a positive effect on someone. It would be something I could do for the exact same amount of time as my corporate administrative job. But at the end of the day instead of feeling run over, I’d feel accomplished, positive, even happy. I would feel fulfilled. Why? Because I would love my job.
Why would I want to give only 4 hours a week to that? The honest answer – I wouldn’t.
If, as a writer, I could write all day every day, I would want to work hard, long hours. I would find it satisfying instead of soul sucking. It would be different from the 9 – 5 corporate gig because I would want to be there, wrestling out sentences and paragraphs and stories. It would be a worthy fight. I would be a champion at the end of every match.
But if I’m trying my hardest to work less hours, to steal back my time to enjoy my life more, then I’m doing something wrong. I’m doing the wrong job.
A job that requires you to work 12 hour days, not have time for vacations, miss your kids’ baseball games, forget your anniversary and family’s birthdays and other significant dates, causes anxiety to the point that you’re taking pills, makes you hate your existence to the point that you start drinking or can’t stop smoking, and eventually develop a hair trigger temper that in its friendliest form comes out as Tourette’s cannot be described as a job that you love.
That’s not me of course. I don’t even have any f**king kids.
How could you not want to run away from that? It isn’t natural to make peace with something that you resent more and more. But that’s exactly what we do, every day, for years. While we look forward to retirement to start living.
Right now, I feel every moment of every day that I spend working for big corporate as a waste. All through the day, I’m antsy and unhappy and constantly counting the minutes that I could be writing instead. So, I feel every hour as if it were three hours. At the end of the day, with all of my energy used up in working hard at my job and hating how hard I have to work at my job, I have almost nothing left for what I really want to do. (Almost nothing.) For this existence, a 4-hour work week would be just the thing. Because it is not where I want to be. It is not what I want to be doing. It does not make me happy.
But if I were able to write all day? How could 4-hours ever be enough?
So, you see, it’s a trick. A 4-hour work week is just another Band-Aid on the infected, oozing, turning green wound of being in the wrong job in the first place. Not even cutting down the torture sentence to 4 hours a week could fix that problem. And it is a problem. One that needs a cure rather than a patch.