Tim Ferriss: “Income without time has no value.”

by Mark on February 15, 2010

In an interesting YouTube interview with Loic Le Meur, Tim Ferriss said:

“What I promote is valuing time as the most valuable nonrenewable currency and recognizing that income without time has no value… Income has no intrinsic value… The value that it has is what you can trade it for. And even if what you trade it for is a possession, ultimately what you are looking for is an experience. Without time, there is no experience.”

This quote is simple and profound. It provides a great insight into his philosophy that you might not guess from the title of his book The 4-Hour Workweek. Many people misinterpret what the book is about based on the title. They think it is about finding ways to be lazy, or they think that it is some kind of scam or pipe dream. It’s too bad, because they are missing out on some amazing ideas.

Lifestyle Design instead of the Deferred-Life Plan

The biggest paradigm shift that Ferriss presents is the idea that we should reject the “deferred-life plan” that has us deferring our dreams well into the future until after we retire. This is when we will finally have the free time to really enjoy ourselves. It is actually kind of surprising that this is the model that is so commonly embraced. We spend so much of our time during the best years of our lives working and doing things that they we really don’t want to be doing. Doesn’t it seem a little crazy?

I have to admit that I had bought into this mentality as well. I have been working overtime at jobs that I don’t like pretty much since my first “real” job at age 16. I embraced the idea that we need to work very long hours in order to have the income that I need to provide a lifestyle that would really make me happy. Over time, however, I have become more and more jaded by this model. What’s the point of earning money if you have no time to enjoy your life?

Probably the biggest shift in my thinking has been in my view towards possessions. Possessions can be nice, but too often they aren’t nearly as fulfilling as we think they will be when we buy them. If you are anything like me, you have a house full of possessions that you rarely use or don’t use at all. All of these items represent the time that you expended to work to acquire them.

Just think of all the hours that you slaved away at work to get things that are collecting dust in your closets, your attic, your shed, or your garage. Doesn’t it make you a little bit sick to think about? And yet I’m guessing that you spend a fair amount of time thinking about what you want to acquire next.

As time goes on, I’m becoming more convinced that free time is more important than possessions. We only get one life to live, so we might as well enjoy it while we can, and we might as well enjoy what life has to offer while we are still young. My goal is to radically reduce the hours that I spend doing things that I don’t like doing so that I will have much more time to do things I want to do. Ultimately this is what “the 4-hour workweek” is all about. It’s not about being lazy. “Lifestyle design” is about freeing up your time to do what excites you. You might be as active as ever, but you will be doing what you like to do. It sounds like a pretty good deal to me. Now I just have to figure out a way to make it happen. :-)

Income without time has no value. Don’t forget it.

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