The Art of Letting Bad Things Happen (and Weapons of Mass Distraction)


The menu in the Slovak Republic: full-contact video below.

Long time no see! I just landed back in CA from a long overdue mini-retirement through London, Scotland, Sardinia, Slovak Republic, Austria, Amsterdam, and Japan.

Some unpleasant surprises awaited me when I checked in on the evil e-mail inbox. Why? I let them happen.

I always do.

Here are just a few of the goodies that awaited me this time:

-One of our fulfillment companies has been shut-down due to the president’s death, causing a 20%+ loss in monthly orders and requiring an emergency shift of all web design and order processing.

-Missed radio and magazine appearances and upset would-be interviewers.

-More than a dozen lost joint-venture partnership opportunities.

It’s not that I go out of my way to irritate people — not at all — but I recognize one critical fact: oftentimes, in order to do the big things, you have to let the small bad things happen. This is a skill we want to cultivate.

What did I get in exchange for temporarily putting on blinders and taking a few glancing blows?

-I followed the Rugby World Cup in Europe and was able to watch the New Zealand All Blacks live, a dream I’ve had for the last 5 years.

-I was able to shoot every gun I’ve ever dreamed of firing since brainwashing myself with Commando. Bless the Slovak Republic and their paramilitaries (video at the end of this post).

-I was able to film a television series pilot in Japan, a lifelong dream and the most fun I’ve had in months, if not years.

-I met with my Japanese publisher, Seishisha (Tel: 03-5574-8511) and had media interviews in Tokyo, where the 4HWW is now #1 in several of the largest chains.


-I took a complete 10-day media fast and felt like I’d had a two-year vacation from computers.

-I attended the Tokyo International Film Festival and hung out with one of my heroes, the producer of the Planet Earth television series.

Once you realize that you can turn off the noise without the world ending, you’re liberated in a way that few people ever know.

Just remember: if you don’t have attention, you don’t have time. Did I have time to check e-mail and voicemail? Sure. It might take 10 minutes. Did I have the attention to risk fishing for crises in those 10 minutes? Not at all.

As tempting as it is to “just check e-mail for one minute,” I didn’t do it. I know from experience that any problem found in the inbox will linger on the brain for hours or days after you shut-down the computer, rendering “free time” useless with preoccupation. It’s the worst of states, where you experience neither relaxation nor productivity. Be focused on work or focused on something else, never in-between.

Time without attention is worthless, so value attention over time.

Here are a few questions that can help you put on the productivity blinders and put things in perspective. Even when you’re not traveling the world, develop the habit of letting small bad things happen. If you don’t, you’ll never find time for the life-changing big things, whether important tasks or true peak experiences. If you do force the time but puncture it with distractions, you won’t have the attention to appreciate it.

-What is the one goal, if completed, that could change everything?

-What is the most urgent thing right now that you feel you “must” or “should” do?

-Can you let the urgent “fail” — even for a day — to get to the next milestone with your potential lifechanging tasks?

-What’s been on your “to-do” list the longest? Start it first thing in the morning and don’t allow interruptions or lunch until you finish.

Will “bad” things happen? Small problems will crop up, yes. A few people will complain and quickly get over it. BUT, the bigger picture items you complete will let you see these for what they are–minutiae and repairable hiccups.

Make this trade a habit. Let the small bad things happen and make the big good things happen.

[This post kicked up some strong comments! If you’d like to see my responses, just search for “###” in the comments.]

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Odds and Ends:

Here is another signed original 4HWW manuscript with the bonus stories that didn’t make it into the published version! Perhaps you saw recently that a 1st-printing Harry Potter fetches more than $40K. 4HWW is no Harry Potter yet, but unedited manuscripts are a rarer item. The Ebay auction is here, and you have 72 hours. The last one sold for $1,525 and there were 8 copies available. Now there are only 6 left. The total winning bid will be donated to this school in Nepal, where your name will appear on a plaque on the door. If you would like to skip the auction, just PayPal $2,000 for however many copies you want (max of 5) to The total will also be donated to education. If someone beats you to the punch, I’ll refund you.

-For those interested, I’m featured on pg. 67 of this month’s Men’s Fitness. Nothing fitness-related, just 4HWW stuff.

-I did a fun interview on .SAP INFO, where I talk about all things quantifiable.

Weapons of Mass Distraction: boys love guns. I’m sorry, but that’s how we are wired, especially at $80 for a full Soviet arsenal, complete with anti-tank machine gun. Don’t worry, I’m just a target shooter. No strapping guns to my bed just yet.

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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192 Replies to “The Art of Letting Bad Things Happen (and Weapons of Mass Distraction)”

  1. Tim,

    Welcome back! Congratulations on the book in Japan, that is awesome.

    One of my muse stalled this week, due to the manufacturer of my product falling off the face of the earth… depressing, but this post reminded me to let it go and get on with trying something else. Great post, as always.


  2. I’m so jealous that you got to attend an All Blacks match…I was limited to one match every Sunday on Digital Cable.

  3. Tim, awesome post!

    Congrats on your new TV pilot…my brother signed a deal with Much Music in Toronto to shoot the pilot for “Glam Rock Cage Fighter” in November. We’re taping him at a submission grappling tournament next week, plus sparring with some ex-IFL fighters and a guy from Chute Box. He’s a monster at 135 lbs…if the pilot gets picked up in 2008 we’ll fly you in, plug the book and roll a few rounds!


    Awesome! Congrats and count me in 🙂


  4. Tim, this is your best post by far! It shows that your mini-retirement worked. It’s awesome to see that you’re actually living what you teach. After reading your book I went on an e-mail fast but after a while I reverted to old habits of checking emails every so often… I noticed the immediate drop in productivity. Like you said… it lingers in the brain for hours and days. Your concept of bad things/big things reminds me of Stephen Covey’s principles in the 7 Habits book… of the quadrant of ‘Not Urgent-Important” things we never seem to pay enough attention to!

  5. Tim – looks like the gun video got pulled …any clue as to why? (for those of us who enjoy shoot, we can probably guess).


    Hi J,

    Thanks for the comment! The video should be up and working. Anyone else having problems?

    All the best,


  6. Excellent advice that I have been following with my website. I’ve been focusing on the projects I wanted to get done and allowing the bigger distractions to just happen. Great book Tim. Thanks.

  7. Right on, Tim!

    This one was such a good reminder for me at the perfect time. I so get it after an experience I had last week. I checked my email before my dinner and planning to have a relaxing email and I got an email in which someone was kinda pissed off at me (rightly so). Having read it, I obsesssed all evening and all night (losing about 3 hours of sleep the night before facilitating a big/exec meeting). I didn’t have to read my email…I was done for the day. I should have just shut if off and enjoyed my evening. Instead I ruined my evening, my night’s sleep and put my performance the next day in jeopardy (saved by caffiene only).

  8. Tim,

    I’ve read your book and scrolled through most of your blog, but this blog entry finally frosted my butt!

    What! You couldn’t have solved some of those “challenges” and saved some customer relations in 10-15 minutes? Sorry, the stuff you described as being “urgent” and “life changing” are just plain selfish. I guess I’m still too “old-school.”

    Valuing people (other than yourself) over attention and time must win out sometime in your life – no?


  9. “time without attention…” wow! i have lived this struggle without having been able to put a title to it. with core values of “freedom” & “value” the glue that binds these together seems like it would be “attention.” if i can’t be focused on the present, with angst and worry thwarting my plans, i am not truly free, because my freedom has no value.

  10. Friend of mine’s dad always said, “If it’s a hurry up answer, the answer is no.”

    If someone can’t wait 10 days on a JV, then they want a hurry up answer.

  11. I thought the Rugby World Cup was in France but you didn’t say you went to France. Where did you see the All Blacks play?


    I saw them play in Edinburgh — Scots vs. New Zealand. The World Cup happened all over, but France was the host country. Fun stuff. Those boys hit hard.


  12. Tim,

    Thanks for sharing. What do you say to people that remind you that as a company owner/CEO/leader you have employees who’s livelihood depends on the success and growth of the company? Could it get to the point where an owner/CEO/leader says “sorry Bob that we lost the big account that would have let you send Sally to college, but I just didn’t want to check email.”?

    1. The difference between the two philosophies is that in one, you own the work, tasks and the outcomes. In yours, however, the work owns you. In the latter case, a sense of being hostage eventually sets in and the resentment that comes with it. I have said that in our workplace we now regrettably have all become a 24/7 business model. That may be your reality, but that also works against the notion many have that they really are in control or even could be. And it sure ain’t healthy. And the day your company shows you to the door for because of what they say they need, despite all that obsession, the lesson will come home about what your investment really produced.

  13. So when are we going to get “How to Live Like a Rock Star in Tokyo?”

    $80 for that entire arsenal — wow. Geoarbitrage to the extreme.

  14. I love the comment by John above because it shows you really are “dividing the camps” Tim. For anyone who read Tim’s advice and took it for granted, you should realize the majority of the world not only doesn’t think this way, they would think that TEACHING YOUR KIDS TIM’S CONCEPTS IS WRONG!


    “Make this trade a habit. Let the small bad things happen and make the big good things happen.”

    This isn’t about finding more time, IT’S ABOUT STEALING time from one thing to give it to another. And you are allowing something bad to happen in the process. Stating it this way there is no longer any gray area. I can keep doing the unimportant list of to-do’s and sacrifice any future potential I have at getting my big project done (click my name if you want to see my plan to REVOLUTIONIZE HIGH SCHOOL PUBLIC EDUCATION!)

    I can tell you from my own experience that trying to get it ALL right, all the tasks done, all the customer’s happy, means you will never grow nearly as big as you could, and that means less people enjoy your quality product or service.

    All the 4HWW wisdom I’ve applied so far has paid off, so I guess I’ll jump right in on this one! thanks Tim!

  15. Jesus Christ, can I get a priest to unbuckle my pants….

    That is the best advice i have heard all year 2007. Just today, I had someone try to cut me loose and I was worried about the income loss, but then I saw your post and thought f*** her, I’m doing the right thing, living my life in a thoughtful, honest way. I’m not sacrificing my core beliefs just to make her commission. Really, it was great advice. Let the small bad s*** happen. And the email thing. No longer will i wake up early thinking about email. F*** it. If its in an email it ain’t that important anyway. I’m 58 yrs old and you are my guru/stand in stunt man. I’m working on being like you….Your are a f***ing genius. And when you come to San Antonio, I will get you in a kung fu wrist grab that you will NOT be able to get out of, and you will go home and have to tell your daddy! cause they all come to me to try. Wing Tsun can kick your ass! Maybe not me, because I’m 58 and (who did you say your daddy used to be)? Uh,.. sorry the alsheimers is kicking in and the piano is calling me.

  16. Tim tim tim tim tim …. wow.

    I just realized that you identified ME…

    Happy to just take one crack of the whip across my back after the other? I imagine I am not alone !!

    Let me paste it here … wow … gave me one of those ‘wow’ moments … ( pasted from your post above )


    It’s the worst of states, where you experience neither relaxation nor productivity.

    Be focused on work or focused on something else, never in-between.

    Time without attention is worthless, so value attention over time.


    …., develop the habit of letting small bad things happen.

    If you don’t, you’ll never find time for the life-changing big things, whether important tasks or true peak experiences.

    If you do force the time but puncture it with distractions, you won’t have the attention to appreciate it.

    I am sending this to all my friends and making this a requirement to check out your post.

    Amazing stuff here… I think you just woke me up.

    – Cheers

  17. >”One of our fulfillment companies has been shut-down due to the president’s death, causing a 20% loss in monthly orders and requiring an emergency shift of all web design and order processing.”

    Was this a breakdown in automation, or a contingency that you had not factored in?

  18. Tim tim tim tim tim …. wow.

    I just realized that you identified ME…

    Happy to just take one crack of the whip across my back after the other? I imagine I am not alone !!

    Let me paste it here … wow … gave me one of those ‘wow’ moments … ( pasted from your post above )

    It’s the worst of states, where you experience neither relaxation nor productivity.

    Be focused on work or focused on something else, never in-between.

    Time without attention is worthless, so value attention over time.


    …., develop the habit of letting small bad things happen.

    If you don’t, you’ll never find time for the life-changing big things, whether important tasks or true peak experiences.

    If you do force the time but puncture it with distractions, you won’t have the attention to appreciate it.

    I am sending this to all my friends and making this a requirement to check out your post.

    Amazing stuff here… I think you just woke me up.

    – Cheers

  19. This rocks.

    At first, I cringed, as I bet a lot of people did. But then when I read the list of what you did get done, I relaxed, and thought, “good on ya, mate!”

    Seeing the All Blacks must’ve been awesome (same w/ the work in Japan, getting your book to #1 in Nippon, etc.).

    Your work has inspired me to do much of the same; I’ve reduced my blogging frequency, put on hold (or killed) a few projects, and I’m close to launching my first muse, with three more lined up behind it.

    Thanks for being the inspiration (and the kick in the a##) we all need.

  20. Hey Tim, glad you got to see the All Blacks in actions. As a New Zealander, I try and catch them whenever I can (currently living in the US so it’s tough sometimes). I hope you didn’t see the French game though, that wasn’t the greatest example of All Black Rugby.

    I think they might even benefit from some of your ideas! I have a feeling they concentrate on a lot of things that aren’t really adding value to their game these days.


  21. Awesome post! Thanks Tim you are a great inspiration.

    I read a great quote the other day it goes:

    *The poor work for wages, and work for survial

    *The middle class work for a salary, and work to be comfortable

    *The rich work for financial freedom, and have their money & ideas work for them while they are away.

  22. Loved Commando too. So much I made my Dad go to the theater and watch it with me. He was… less impressed.

    For old times sake… see the Gov in his prime.

    “Zis is my weak arm…”

  23. Tim,

    That’s unfortunate news about your fulfillment partner shutting down. In case you’re shopping for a new fulfillment company to work with, I know that my mother’s company could take care of any web design and order processing you may need. I just thought I’d throw that out there.


    Thank you, E! It’s all set, but I appreciate the offer.


  24. Wow I had forgotten all about Commando! That one is defs going onto the Netflix queue. “Come ahn Sully. Let’s pahty.” Wonderful.

    Also BRILLIANT POST. Let small bad things happen. That is one of the smartest things not in the Bible that I have ever heard.

  25. Couldn’t the joint venture / interview scenarios have been avoided by stating in your autoresponder that you are away until at least x date and won’t be available before then?

  26. Tim,

    Wow – what a fantastic time you had. I’ve been pretending I don’t love guns for years…maybe I should come out of the armour-plated closet…

    You’ve identified a key skill – being able to let small bad things happen without getting uptight, upset or distracted. I’ve not heard anyone talk about that before but you’re right.

    Do you have any tricks for avoiding checking email? I’ve heard you talk before about putting yourself in an environment where it is easier to achieve your goals. Do you do this with email (i.e. make sure you have no way of checking)?


  27. Your post was incredibly relevant and timely for me. Completely worth the wait and caused an important and overdue shift in my mindset both in and outside of work. Seriously, thank you very much.

  28. ###

    Hi All!

    Thanks for all the great comments and questions. Let me answer a few things:

    1. The book will be coming out in Russian and Hebrew, though I don’t have the dates.

    2. Contractors and performance-based outsourcers handle almost 100% of my business, so: 1) I wasn’t ignoring customer service issues easily solved in 10 minutes, as I haven’t handled them for more than 4 years, and 2) No one is depending on me for 100% of their income, nor their childrens’ college tuition.

    3. The gun range name… good question! Attila, can you help here? I no speak the Slovak.

    4. The death of the fulfillment president wasn’t a breakdown in automation. I did have a contingency plan for this type of crisis, and everything was rolled over and running smoothly within 48 hours. The transition of communication is what cost orders, as — to avoid people being charged but not receiving product — we simply refunded nearly everyone who’d ordered in the last 2 weeks. I had no desire to deal with complaints or chargebacks, even if just a few, so I took the financial hit as a quality-of-life tax.

    5. Knau, as you suggested, I did have an autoresponder set that explained I was overseas and checking e-mail infrequently. I also had an assistant checking e-mail, who was on the alert to get in touch via secret means if absolutely necessary. Most — but certainly not all — people who want something NOW either 1) don’t need it now, and/or 2) are people you don’t want to do business with. They’ll drive you nuts with 30 e-mail a day.

    Hope that helps!


  29. I love it, “get in touch via secret means if absolutely necessary.” What sort of expectation setting excercises or training did you give your assistant (other than the chapter in your book regarding Interrupting Interruption)?

    I carry two copies of your book in my laptop backpack: one copy that I have written all over in with notes and underlines, and the copy that is on my ipod. Thanks again for the inspiration Tim.

  30. This post was spot on! I (we – the company) just went thru an “urgency issue” (started via email) with someone who in the end was not going to spend a dime with us, got us all worked up and then thru us under the bus with some long time customers and associates. It ate at me for days and I actually spent 3 hours on a plane flight writing a “scorched earth” email response to the guy…that I never sent!! All because I let “his” sense of urgency dictate our behavior…never again. Anyone who continues to “demand response” is not someone you want to do business with…let alone lose sleep over. The fact that I’m still writing about this shows the incredible amount of wasted time and energy that can go into the mindset of always “having to be on and available”…..

    Yesterday I was unavailable (cell or email) most of the day due to customer/vendor mtgs and travel…most productive day I’ve had in weeks!

  31. Hi Tim, just an additional thought if you wanted to sample your blog commenter demographic as you have in the past.

    what % read only this blog

    or 2-4 blogs / week

    what % only comment on this blog

    or comment on other blogs read.

    personally this is the ONLY blog I regularly read, and I just about never do blog commenting, and here I do it on about 75% of the topics.

    this to me says you’ve got some seriously interesting stuff that gets people thinking and wanting to express their own opinions.



  32. Fantastic book for college student such as myself!

    My personal favorite chapter of your book was the section on Mini Retirements. I was so amazed that you were able to find such affordable accomadation in Berlin and Buenos Aires. To think that I was about to spend the same amount (around $500) on five nights at a luxury hotel or even a hostel….. not anymore.

    I perused the web sites you listed at the end of the chapter,but I did not find site that offered such listings. Would you able to specify the method or Internet resources in which you used find such cheap accomadation in foreign countries including the posh apartments mentioned in the book?

    I’d greatly appreciate it because I will be partaking in much extensive travel within the next few months including Amsterdam, which hopefully I can find a furnished apartment for around the montly cost that you were able to in other countries.

    Amanda G.

  33. Tim,

    Big Fan. You are my hero. Just finished your book. It Rocks! I read it the first time to acquire the theory and I will read it again to practice it.

    Loved the video. It must have been a rush to use all those weapons. I never shot a gun before. But after this video, I might go to the local gun gallery and try it.

  34. Tim:

    You are my hero. I find all of the negative feedback amusing. I suppose you either get it or you don’t. This is such a timely entry for me. I am preparing a 2-hour seminar with a message about goal setting. I mention Tom Peters theories on “selective rudeness” (which I love), .

    but this really gets the point accross. Being able to “cultivate this skill” is critical to accomplishing great things. I will pass along your thoughts to my audience.

    I do have a problem, however… (granted, it is truly a me problem). In an effort to follow your advice I removed the distraction of my ISP “home page” and replaced it with your 4HWW as a source of inspiration and reminders, yet I spent over 2 hours on your site in the last two days after forwarding the slow carb diet to my wife’s cousin. My wife and I both had great success with it and have since gotten many requests for the details.

    I guess I’ll just have to learn to let small bad things happen while I set aside time to catch up on your Big Things. A little like “sharpening the saw.”

    Thanks – If you’re ever in New England, or NY I’d love to hear about it.

  35. Haha Tim,

    We were doing that here in Baton Rouge when we were 15yrs old!

    Still not bad, but come on man, when your gun jams you have to know what to do! Nice, keep it up. Oh and bye the way unless it is a trade secret, who the hell manufactures Brain Quicken anyway?


    Hi Michael!

    You guys in the south make us Yanks look like girly men, for sure. As for the manufacturer of BrainQUICKEN, that will have to remain under the covers for now. If you thrash me in gun skills and get my manufacturer, what would I do? 🙂


  36. Hi Tim,

    I love your blog posts man.

    Every one makes gives me a “brain-tickle”.

    Thats the phrase I have coined which means it wakes me up, makes me think and expands my horizons.

    Thanks man.

  37. Hi Tim,

    I read the SAP interview listed in the odds and ends. Your comments about monitoring business metrics really caught my attention. I’d like to begin measuring such things myself, but I’m not entirely sure where to start. Are there any resources you can recommend for further information on this topic?

    On a different note, I want to remind the critics of this post how much effort you’ve been putting into inspiring philanthropy recently. In my opinion, the selfish label just doesn’t stick. In fact, I appreciate your honesty in sharing these “unpleasant surprises” with us. I think it speaks to your courage and character, which ought to earn your readers’ respect, even if they don’t agree. The criticisms seem a bit petty in comparison.

    Beyond that, I see your uncommon choices as being more grounded in our individual and collective humanness, not less. Instead of limiting your focus to your role as a CEO/Employer, you’re expanding your focus to your entire identity, which naturally includes many roles, goals, hopes and dreams. I think we’d all benefit from adopting perspectives of a similar scope.

    And speaking of scopes, the back up gun rack is nuts! I can just see some shortsighted parent putting it within reach of their child…

  38. Tim,

    At first, the idea of losing 20% of your monthly orders seemed like a Big Problem(even after reading your book). Funny…the result, “everything was rolled over and running smoothly within 48 hours” helped me realize that “small bad things” can also be disguised as -Big Bad Things-. Limiting the foreboding thoughts associated with most problems (big or small) is very helpful. I certainly enjoy more and worry less lately. Thanks for all you do.

  39. What a party here in the comments, I’m glad this one got so many responses! Thanks for the shotout, Tim, it was a lot of fun indeed – always welcome.

    The name of the shooting range is Strelnica Casta (Shooting Range in Casta). The list of weapons is on their site as well, not in English but you can probably figure it out. If not, ask!

    There’s much to do here in Bratislava, including sports/exploration/underground clubbing (to list some of my favorites), so anyone who wants to shoot big toys or hang out is welcome! Just drop me a line at and I’ll try get back to you in a couple days.

    To try to inspire some of you, I’ve recently kicked in a completely 4hww advocated lifestyle. It allows me to focus on crafting heavy beats full time, be able to travel, have fun like this and do all my work online forever. I’ve realised that with more than 9 years of experience in quality journalism, knowledge of four languages and a natural talent for writing (wrote a 100 page fantasy book when I was 6) it would be stupid not to use this to my advantage and help others in the process as well. A few days later I’ve quit working in the office for an internet marketing company and started my own ghostwriting and website promotion service for smaller businesses who want to gain more leads online. You can check it out on – it’s ideal for increasing your success with muses and takes away the burden of having to worry about regular fresh quality content. It was all a matter of one no-brainer decision and maybe five hours in total working on the webpage and setting things up. Worthwile by all means if you ask me!

  40. I could not have said better. Constantly checking email and voicemails is waste of time and an excuse to do the urgent and not important. By constantly working on the important you can avoid many of the pitfalls labeled as “urgent.” There will always be days when it rains on your parade not matter how well prepared you are, but being prepared can increase your chances of not having so many “urgent” things to do. Besides what would you rather do be doing urgent things all day or taking outstanding mini retirements?


    I recently had an incident where i called a client and he told me in an annoyed and distasteful manner…”im on vacation, can i just call you when i get back.” Rather than answering his phone he would have been better off having an automated voicemail or simply not answering the call. It is better to have a conversation when you are focused rather than annoyed. The world will constantly interrupt you, its your job to stop that from happening by choosing what you react to .

    Great Blogs

    Jose C.

  41. I’m on a mini-retirement in Hong Kong after two weeks in Paris. Doing some deep learning in French, and exploring more of Asia. The funny thing is I started reading your book after a friend at Burning Man recommended it, and several weeks after this trip was planned (I just didn’t know the correct “mini-retirement” term. I haven’t quite put my computer down, but I have just launched my first dry-test adwords/overture campaigns for a new product I’m planning (read: hoping) to develop. I guess I’ll see if the marketing results merit going forward with the project.

    I’m also coming to see you in San Francisco next week. My dad’s a psychologist and sent me an invitation. Now my question is, if you don’t really check your email, can people really expect you to reply to your blog comments? 🙂


  42. What’s in San Francisco next week, and what’s it have to do with psychology? I’ve been meaning to visit my best friend there for a while now.

  43. Great to see a new blog entry, Tim.

    Since you’re partly to blame–err, thank–that I’m typing this from month two at a kickboxing camp in Thailand, I thought you might want to see the blog I started about it – check out

    Amazing the things that have opened up after a month here — I got a new job offer back in LA, I got an invitation to a free 5-day stay at a luxury spa in Thailand, and I just got an email inviting me to freakin Bora Bora in March for a week to interview Kathy Griffin for a travel magazine. Life is GOOD.

    OK back to getting kicked in the stomach. Whoo hoo!

  44. This is a very strong point. Not getting caught up in the every small issue will save a person a great deal of drama and stress. However, Tim has a different lifestyle than most of us. There are very valid arguments here but sometimes I find the points in Tim’s book are a bit unrealistic.

  45. It’s not only boys that like guns, sweetheart – I love shooting, and I am extremely intelligent, classy, educated, sensual, successful, wise, spiritual, adventurous, fun, and witty. Not a white-trash trailer anywhere near me 😉

    LOVE your stuff – way to prove ANYTHING is possible… see you around the planet!

  46. I must agree with you Tim, and I’ve found this out through observation and direct experience. No matter what anyone says, there is no real reason a company can’t do without a person for a couple of weeks – even a month. People manage to get by and make decisions without you. I’m not financially independent but learned it’s a fiction to tell people they can’t be spared for vacation in and around “crunch time.” They’ll manage and life will go on.

    With this in mind I’ve also learned to plan for people bailing out on me. I make Plan Bs and Plan Cs all the time so my time is not wasted if Plan A goes South. Not only does it save time but frustration/stress and your relationship with that person, be it business or personal! Learning to be flexible in this way is one of the most valuable skills I’ve picked up.

  47. I would love a mini vacation. I spent all of Sunday not looking at email. That was the sum total of my vacation. A day off work. I missed three really important missives.but, to really kick back, it was worth it. four hour work week is still but a dream.

  48. Silly Tim, I always do business over the phone. Or in person, because it’s the only possible way to be accurate. I’d rather look at the worksite so we can discuss how to approach any problems. We look at the blueprints. We evaluate materials. And no one fusses over a co worker on a day off– that’s what we’re working for.

  49. “What is the most urgent thing right now that you feel you “mustâ€? or “shouldâ€? do?

    -Can you let the urgent “failâ€? — even for a day — to get to the next milestone with your potential lifechanging tasks?”

    Having a Mac with Safari provides interesting variations on the test for must, should and fail (ouch!).

    Thank you for your blog entries. While taking care of hoohah, I enjoy some vicarious fun here.

    Blessed Be Those Who Outwit the Abusers/Controllers/Liars/Poisoners,

    Elena Haskins

  50. I think it is often this fear of “looking bad” in front of a client or a customer or partner that cuases the problem, when you find good people that can handle the big issues for you within a few days, most things become not that important, and as long as you are ok, with not “looking good” all the time, focus can lead to amazing results.

    Recently I allowed several small scale bug on the website “stay live” for a few days despite the rick to “professionalism” and because I was un-distracted by the typos and polish I was able to get new landing pages for google campaigns designed and running in just a few days. frankly the most important people have my number, if the barn is really on fire, they will call, they always do.

  51. I think it’s funny that the guys shirt in the video says Wisconsin on it. that’s where I went to college…what’s the connection?

  52. Absolutely — life is full of trade offs. I have not managed quite the extremes you have, but I have enjoyed a lot of big adventures because I took a pass on little things like security and a conventional career. It’s definitely not for everyone, but if you can handle it, it’s certainly enriching.

    And cool guns. The biggest thing I’ve fired is a 30 caliber carbine — impressive, but not as splashy as some of the weapons you got to fire.

  53. Hey Tim (and everyone else);

    My buddy and I own similar businesses and travel together occasionally because we both have the flexibility to do so. One trip took us to the Island of Curacao for two weeks (he wanted one week, I insisted that if he wanted a travel partner to split expenses with, that it HAD to be TWO weeks, & with a car!).

    Soo., like clockwork every day, twice a day, my friend calls home to check his answering machine and then return calls to potential clients from Curacao while on his “vacation”., then, once back home he complains to me that when I am off traveling that he cannot reach me for work that he might have for me because I do not seem to share his same fervor for business (his take on the issue).

    I explain to him that a vacation is not a vacation if one carries ones work along with them. He says, Well, why do you have a cell phone then? And I explain (to him AND to my clients) that the cell phone is for MY convenience and NOT for theirs. The last thing that I want is to be enjoying a wonderful long solitary hike in the mountains (with my Chocolate Lab named Buddha) and have my cell phone ring (my friends get the cell #, not my clients).

    You are one of the first “business consultants” who I have heard advocate this premise and one that I believe in and practice wholeheartedly. Life is more important than business., even if your business is something that you love (like mine) and a part of your Life. All is a balance and one can easily maintain both while keeping everyone happy.

    Peace~ &

    Be Well~!


  54. Tim,

    You are a true pioneer. Did the higher education thing and corporate thing (with the best) but it’s no where near..blah, blah, know the rest.

    Simplicity is the key.

    Indeed, Einstien’s most profound equations were only an inch long. Your tools are already helping me complete my first start-up in the most time/cost-effective way.

    I’m planning a motorcycle-diaries like trip through S.A. and will be on the lookout for you.

    ciao irmão

  55. Hey Tim,

    After reading your book and wandering aimlessly through your website, I can’t help but feel you’re a kindred spirit. It was really driven home in your experience at firing the various guns (I used to manage a firing range and now am a bartender). At any rate, thank you for getting this information out there and throwing a path my direction. Modern slavery sucks.

    Best Wishes


  56. Your ability to have this sort of mini-retirement is inspiring! I am also looking for a way to construct this type of life, and it seems as if it has to do with creating an income stream so you can leave without worries regarding making money. Your book solidified alot of the ideas I had and gave it direction. Seeing these sorts of adventures inspires me even further. Thank you!


  57. Well, well….Wow!! You are truly amazing but I knew that when we met in Panama. I am in awe and proud of you. Everything makes sense now….besos

  58. After selling our business (after 8 1/2 years), my wife and our 6 year old daughter traveled Ireland (from our home in Austin, Texas) for almost 3 weeks without checking email voice mail even ONCE! (In fact, we never once turned on our cell phones or called home)…

    It was like nothing I’ve ever experienced before… total and complete freedom. It makes me feel all tingly inside to remember it now.

    Thanks for a killer post, mang!

    The force is strong in this one…

    David Gonzalez


    Congratulations, David! Incredible achievement in this digital world. Keep up the good fight — the pay-off is well worth it, no? 🙂


  59. Okay, so this is pretty crazy. Post number 85 already started something that I just started today. I wasn’t aware of anyone else doing this but goes to show that many of us share in the same ideas! I wish you the best success “Rex Reed.”

    Tim, it must feel pretty great to have this kind of impact on other people, huh? Enjoy the moment and keep producing great works so the moments will last forever.

  60. Dude… You Rock.!!!

    My name is Scott and I just hit 27 years earlier this month

    This past week I received your book for xmas and I could not put it down…repeatedly it elucidated primitive ideas that have been bouncing around my head this past year.

    ..since finishing school in spring of ’06 and working 40 hours per week I became really discouraged at the prospects of saving and living low…disenchanted with the “deferred-life plan” you speak of..

    ..though I had switched jobs twice to increase my income and reduced my bills to 20% of income i was still not happy with the length of time I needed to save until I could use my 40 hours weekly in another manner…

    I decided I would try to leverage my earning power and open a business in another country …

    …I interviewed potential partners via videochat and my business partner and I formed a corporation and opened an Internet cafe in Manila…..

    ..guess how crazy that sounds to alot of people.. 🙂

    ..needless to say we are now breaking even and though I did not achieve my goal of an autonomous stream of income just yet….

    .. I have made a lifelong friend and enabled someone to change their life permanently…

    …also i have made a valuable contact in the corporate lawyer whos firm also handles patent law (the Phils. patent system is based on the US and the law fees are a fraction of the price)…though thanks to the 4HWW I will now pursue the Stephen Key method instead of saving to pay for full-blown patents..

    ..I really just wanted to say congratulations on your success…you are a real inspiration to the dreamers out there…if you ever need a place to stay or want to chill in downtown Toronto just drop a line….(lots of bike riding opportunities and pastries…) 😛

    take care man and best wishes…Scott


    Scott, congratulations! I love the bold idea and how you followed through. “Crazy” ideas are usually the ones that create big change, whether personal or global. Keep on acting on those dreams 🙂


  61. hi tim, i am yr new reader from hong kong. i just had a short break in taiwan and i found yr book.

    yea, the topic is so brillant that no one can resist.

    i feel excited with yr book…

    cos i really feel dull in the current job.

    i still haven’t finish yr book yet. but i am using my turbo.. i want to finish it assp and start a new life!!

    oh, i have a question.. which tv show had u featured in hk?!


    Hi Grace,

    I was on a TV series called “Human Cargo” in English. If you search for my “blogosphere self-defense” on this blog, you can see a screen shot. Good luck with all and thanks for joining us 🙂


  62. Hey Tim,

    halfway through the book….amazing….

    My mind is drifting sideways at an unimagined pace.


    Systematically put Walmart out of business and train the fired employees how to list on ebay. I have the ebay know how, but realize the massive amount of outsourcing that could be done to put power back in the people’s hands and ethically erase walmart.

    By the way, I am currently riding two bikes; 2002 bmw 1150rt and a 2003 1150 gs adventure. I’m in utah and want to revolutionize riding. I ride everyday and have for over a year, love it. Do you ever ride out in utah? MY NEXT BIKE NEEDS TO BE A SPORTS BIKE. I AM CURRENTLY USING YOUR BOOK EXCLUSIVELY FOR LIFESTYLE DESIGN IN ACCOMPLISHING MY GOALS. HAVE MISSION STATEMENT and MOTIVATION but could use direct input. I wanted my walmart idea to be a part of your content, but I saw it was over. We don’t need no stinking contest.



  63. Hey Tim

    I started trying to do what I’ve now come to know as lifestyle design about two months ago when I fully committed to providing products and solutions that promotes environmentaly conscious consumption.

    I have only had your book for 1 week. I am one page 100 and I have to say 1 week with just a few principles have negated the past two months of me pulling my hair out trying to set up an automated business. My computers are sick and tired of me swearing at them.


    The reason I am contacting you is as follows. I am redoing my life utilizing lifestyle design.

    Your book in combination with many of my own personal planets lining up in the most life changing event to DATE have led to the following conclusion.

    I want to sell your book on my website and market in a way that are condusive to the principles in your book.

    A few random ideas on my to do list:

    Create a program focusing on disabled veterans that utilizes practical training that will improve their quality of life

    Systematically put Walmart out of business and retrain employees how to market the right way. I want to drive past a store and instead of wanting to hurl, to smile smuggly.

    Cookie Droppingsworth


    Hi Cookie,

    Thanks so much for the kind words! The only simple method for selling my book on your site would be an affiliate program through Amazon or Barnes and Noble (there are probably others). Good luck on all of your LD projects and keep us posted on progress 🙂

    All the best,


  64. hi tim, finially i finished yr book. i feel excited but i also have many questions in my mind. cos yr book is based on US situation, which is quite far from hk. but i think it’s similar to taiwan.

    as u know that hk is so small and condensed. online shopping may not be that popular. therefore, we may not have such comprehensive services as u mentioned in the book. for instance, our local courier provides basic services only – point to point delivery.

    i really want to follow yr book and to be yr first successful fellow in hk. hopefully to draw more attentions about yr book and yr ideas.

    if u don’t mind, i want to intro myself abit. i am 36yrs now. i graduated from US in 1994. then i return to hk and to be a journalist until 20001. then i stayed a yr in sdyney (mini retirement?!) to study aromatherapy. i return hk in 2002. i opened an aromatherapy clinic, however it closed 1 yr later. then i found a job in taiwan and stayed for another yr. i back to hk again in 2004. i guess i lost tract since then..

    i want to quit job and fly to overseas again.. which is my usual practice. but i also want to start my own business again.. so that to save some money for mini retirement.

    what is yr suggestion?

    i must admit that i am not a stable person and i shifted job often. i only have “3-min passion” that is our chinese saying – i don’t have strong determination. does it a fatal drawback to have a successful business or life?!

    btw, i have difficulty in reading yr chinese version. there are many terms which are different from hk. the translation seems more like a formal textbook. i am considering to buy yr original version, which i think maybe easier for understanding.

    i am looking forward to hear u soon… and hope that i am not too greedy for yr answers!!

  65. I am creating my website today and have decided that pure lifestyle design is the way I want to go. Check my current progress at

    [Cookie, I’m sorry to delete the link, but please do not use the comment field here to promote your own links/products. Feel free, of course, to put it in the “URL” field]

    If anyone is interested in incorporating lifestyle design and ebay please email me at I am frantically looking for information on environmentally conscious consumption

    Your book is the only one that I want to use. I want to have the resources you have at my disposal. I also want to use lifestyle design and realize it’s totally your brainchild. I don’t want to step on your toes in the creation of my business. Any advice or direction you could point me in would be great.

    I want to get paid for click, but more importanty, i want my business fully automated. Thanks for the advice on the affiliate program, I will look into it.

    When someone asks me what I am going to do today, I will quote the the great Napolean Dynamite, “Whatever I feel like…GOSH!

  66. I’ve never posted to a blog or created a website before, please bear with me. I’m 35 and consider myself fairly tech savy, but I’m going nuts setting up my lifestyle so everything is automated. If anyone out there has any advice, i’d appreciate it.

    I plan on figuring it out and then teaching other people how to do it. Working on getting a video camera mount for my bike. I went Snowboarding today, got home at about noon, worked for two hours and i’m done for the day.

    Here’s my website, it need work, I’m trying to figure out the best way to do it. Hey Tim are you affiliated with I am also thinking about writing music for my business ideas. I am a guitar player with a bunch of vintage guitars and amps, but I’m pretty mellow. I would love to internet jam with anyone out there who knows how. Pretty amazing stuff especially in light of Radioheads accomplishments. I am big time into Built to Spill and Modest Mouse. I want to eventually hang out with my favorite players. Big dream, but now more achievable than ever thanks to THE FOUR HOUR WORK WEEK.

    I want to post some pictures and video and will do so once I figure out how. I’m a new mac user for less than a month. It’s making me nuts because I’ve essentially got monster possibilities and need to integrate the mac.


    Hi Cookie,

    I’m not affiliate with the LD website. Good luck with all 🙂


  67. Tim –

    First time on the site – great stuff.

    Completely got your blog on letting small bad things happen. After all, the only reason for choosing some some goals over others is to set priority – to make sure that we concentrate our precious time and attention on the important stuff.

    How do we know we’ve set priority properly? When we don’t do some things, because other stuff is more important.

    As a an ex-colleague of mine sagely noted, if everything is a top priority – then nothing is…

    Keep up the good work.


  68. Whoops.

    Misstyped webiste name in my last post – corrected above. Seems I was concentrating on the important stuff (my post) rather than my URL… 🙂

  69. Your are living a dream man! I will definitely be a regular reader of your blogs. Amazing and your writing is assuredly creativity at its best! I think you have taken the word impossible out of the dictionary of living life at its fullest.