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The 4 Hour Work Week and the Divorce Lawyer 

The 4 Hour Work Week:  Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere and Join the New Rich does it. Every once in a while a book or an idea comes along that has such a massive impact on those that read it, that it actually changes the course of how people, individually and collectively, think and act. This is what I think the 4 Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferris has done. 

It has caused many people to change their way of life, and has certainly had a massive impact on how others look at how we view our work and the time we put into it.

A 4 Hour Work Week for Lawyers?

Is it possible to go from a hectic full time work schedule to 4 hours per week?

Sure.

That is not necessarily the point of the book. The point is to question the assumption of the 40 to 60 hour per week grind and potentially look at creating your income in a way that does not require that grind.

It focuses on work as contribution also. Also, reading about people who have applied Ferris' principles is so inspiring.

Ferris suggests we do something other than what is expected of us.

Although I still work, like 40 hours per week, what I have managed to do as a result of Ferris' book is question my ingrained assumptions about work, life and how to live it. Since reading the 4 Hour Work Week, I have been creating a more meaningful existence that does not blindly follow some cooked up model of driven success.

As lawyers, we experience overt and covert pressure to live the life of the “professional” which includes being on a never-ending wheel of earning income and spending that income as fast as we get it or even faster. There is pressure of buying more and more things, upgrading the things we do have, creating more and more obligations, ignoring our closest relationships (or making them suffer), ignoring our health needs, and relentlessly pursuing the next goal with no end in sight.

At the same time, the 4-Hour Work Week author is not suggesting that we simply put our feet up and do nothing with our time. He is, however, suggesting that we spend less time cranking aimlessly earning income at a soul-sucking job.

Ferris encourages us to think of our time differently and considering spending it more by: 

  • Contributing to others;
  • Engaging in personal learning;
  • Having fun; or
  • Taking care of our long-term health (like exercise or meditation)

We do not have to wait for retirement for happiness. We can automate and honour our incomes now so that we can live outside of the full-time job paradigm. Ferris points out that there is no reason for deferred life enjoyment or deferred happiness.

I was on my 2009 Christmas ski holiday and had taken Ferris' book for some "light" holiday reading. Back in the real world I had just purchased and renovated a $1,000,000+ commercial property that would house my law firm. Upon my return, I would commence practising law in this new (admittedly stunningly gorgeous but not very large) space.

Yes, the project cost in excess of $300,000 more than I was expecting. And no, I did not have any extra money socked away to fix the problem of the excess cost. I had created and built an office that would take up a considerable amount of my waking time and energy in the years to come.

Uh oh.

It was only after reading Ferris' book that I realized that I was living my life barely treading water, being completely stressed financially, and overcommitted in general. It was my only reality. I didn't even realize that there was another way to be. Thankfully, the book made me realize that I had a choice to live another way. 

Yes, the several years that followed have been the most stressful and painful I have ever experienced in my life.

Reading the 4 Hour Work Week is certainly what got me to first question my place within our culture and had me realize that I was keeping up with the Joneses and not even realizing it.

The amazing thing is that human beings want to work. They want to work on something that is meaningful. The problem is that in our pursuit of success so many of us get tangled up in the pursuit itself, as well as all the "extras" that seem to come with it. We accrue more payments, real estate, expenses, and "stuff" without doing an analysis of whether or not those things support our values in life.

These days, before buying anything, I decide if it is something that will enhance the experience of my life (like a tent for camping or a plane ticket) or if it is just a “thing” that will ultimately clutter up my home and life.

Written by Val Hemminger, divorce lawyer  

Return from 4 hour work week.

Val has created this website to share with her colleagues. She  is not suggesting, by any means, that she is the best divorce lawyer out there. She is, however, suggesting that she is the best divorce lawyer that she herself can be. Feel free to share anything you find useful.