Do you work for money — or happiness?

Do you work for money — or happiness?

Tim Ferriss has written a terrific book that explores the imbalance between work and happiness. The 4-Hour Work Week challenges the notion that we have to wait until we’re 65 before we can shake off the yoke of work and start enjoying ourselves. For most people, Ferriss writes:

“…the perfect job is the one that takes the least time. The vast majority of people will never find a job that can be an unending source of fulfillment, so that is not the goal here; to free time and automate income is.”

I agree that the most important ingredients of happiness are the “holy trinity” of time, income and mobility. Or as Ferriss puts it, “Gold is getting old.”

“People don’t want to be millionaires — they want to experience what they believe only millions can buy.”

In other words, the freedom to pursue your passions while you work, essentially, part-time.

Ferriss’s solution, briefly, is to extricate yourself from a physical presence in the office, outsource as much of your work as you can, then use the free time to pursue your passions through mini-retirements.

The New Rich… abandon the deferred-life plan and create luxury lifestyles in the present using the currency of the New Rich: time and mobility.

Ferriss calculates that your dream lifestyle probably costs a lot less than you think. No wonder the book has become an instant Amazon best-seller. (As I write this, it’s #7.)

This is the book I wish I’d had with me twenty-five years ago, when my wife and I decided we’d put our quality of life ahead of career advancement. After much soul-searching and research, we decided to take a big risk. Our plan: Locate and buy our “retirement” home first, while we were still young enough to enjoy it, then figure out a way to make a living.

We left Los Angeles and moved all the way across the country to the coast of southern Maine, where we bought a charming old farmhouse on a couple of acres of land. We didn’t know a soul in the entire state. I had a modest contract with CBS Radio to write and produce short features, but that was barely enough to live on. We had zero job prospects. But we were both smart and hard-working, and after a few false starts things got rolling.

In the early ’80s, of course, we couldn’t do it Ferriss’s way. There was no Internet, no email, no outsourcing. Heck, a fax machine was an exotic, expensive investment.

Frankly, our lifestyle decision has been a real roller-coaster ride for us, equal parts exhilaration and fear — but very little boredom. It’s been a grand adventure, and neither of us regret it at all.

I remember as a kid hoping I’d never get trapped in a boring, dull life. Boy, did that ever come true!

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