How to Surf Life: Attorney Turned Surf Guru

(Photo: envisionpublicidad)

Many a false step was made by standing still.

-Fortune Cookie

Named must your fear be before banish it you can.

-Yoda, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back


Twenty feet and closing.

“Run! Ruuuuuuuuuun!” Hans didn’t speak Portuguese, but the meaning was clear enough—haul ass. His sneakers gripped firmly on the jagged rock, and he drove his chest forward towards 3,000 feet of nothing.

He held his breath on the final step, and the panic drove him to near unconsciousness. His vision blurred at the edges, closing to a single pin point of light, and then… he floated. The all-consuming celestial blue of the horizon hit his visual field an instant after he realized that the thermal updraft had caught him and the wings of the paraglider. Fear was behind him on the mountain top, and thousands of feet above the resplendent green rain forest and pristine white beaches of Copacabana, Hans Keeling had seen the light.

That was Sunday.

On Monday, Hans returned to his law office in Century City, Los Angeles’ posh corporate haven, and promptly handed in his three-week notice…

For nearly five years, he had faced his alarm clock with the same dread: I have to do this for another 40-45 years? He had once slept under his desk at the office after a punishing half-done project, only to wake up and continue on it the next morning. That same morning, he had made himself a promise: two more times and I’m out of here. Strike number three came the day before he left for his Brazilian vacation.

We all make these promises to ourselves, and Hans had done it before as well, but things were now somehow different. He was different. He had realized something while arcing in slow circles towards the earth—risks weren’t that scary once you took them. His colleagues told him what he expected to hear: he was throwing it all away. He was an attorney on his way to the top—what the hell did he want?

Hans didn’t know exactly what he wanted, but he had tasted it. On the other hand, he did know what bored him to tears, and he was done with it. No more passing days as the living dead, no more dinners where his colleagues compared cars, riding on the sugar high of a new BMW purchase until someone bought a more expensive Mercedes. It was over.

Immediately, a strange shift began—Hans felt, for the first time in a long time, at peace with himself and what he was doing. He had always been terrified of plane turbulence, as if he might die with the best inside of him, but now he could fly through a violent storm sleeping like a baby. Strange indeed.

More than a year later, he was still getting unsolicited job offers from law firms but by then had started Nexus Surf, a premier surf-adventure company based in the tropical paradise of Florianopolis, Brazil. He had met his dream girl, a Carioca with caramel-colored skin named Tatiana [bottom right here], and spent most of his time relaxing under palm trees or treating clients to the best times of their lives.

Is this what he had been so afraid of?

These days, he often sees his former self in the under-joyed and overworked professionals he takes out on the waves. Waiting for the swell, the true emotions come out: “God, I wish I could do what you do.” His reply is always the same: “You can.”

The setting sun reflects off the surface of the water, providing a zen-like setting for a message he knows is true: it’s not giving up to put your current path on indefinite pause. He could pick up his law career exactly where he left off if he wanted to, but that is the furthest thing from his mind.

As they paddle back to shore after an awesome session, his clients get a hold of themselves and regain their composure. They set foot on shore, and reality sinks its fangs in: “I would, but I can’t really throw it all away.”

He has to laugh.


Excerpted from The 4-Hour Workweek, Chapter 3: Dodging Bullets – Fear-setting and Escaping Paralysis

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.

Leave a Reply

Comment Rules: Remember what Fonzie was like? Cool. That’s how we’re gonna be — cool. Critical is fine, but if you’re rude, we’ll delete your stuff. Please do not put your URL in the comment text and please use your PERSONAL name or initials and not your business name, as the latter comes off like spam. Have fun and thanks for adding to the conversation! (Thanks to Brian Oberkirch for the inspiration.)

108 Replies to “How to Surf Life: Attorney Turned Surf Guru”

  1. Excellent excerpt, Tim, but as I sit and glance out of my hotel (and current home) window, watching the rain pour down on Sai Gon, I wonder if a life of adventure is really for everyone. If everyone shared Hans’ sense of longing for air or my sense of belonging in places that are so not like where I come from, would we gain the same amount of pleasure from doing what we do?

    It may not be the same as buying a BMW to impress our peers, but I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that adventure is to be envied, and those of us who take the leap do in some small part enjoy praise from others for “giving it all up” to chase our dreams. It’s all sugar, just in different forms.

  2. Thanks for posting this story Tim. It provides a little distraction for people like me who are stuck in the middle of life with no idea of how to live it. What I’d really like to know, however, are more of the details. I realize that you can’t tell a great story by weighing it down with a bunch of boring details, but I know that more happened between the time when Hans walked in and quit his job and now when he has this great life and career. What was it?

    Maybe I’m the only one reading your blog who feels this way, but doing something like Hans did just isn’t an option for me. For instance, I can’t live without a paycheck because I’ve got a child support payment that, if I miss it, will result in the law coming down on me like a ton of bricks. I know, these are just excuses, but I’m assuming that Hans and some of the other people in your book had details that they had to address in their transition from work as drudgery to work as life. Would it be possible to hear about them? Maybe then I might start to see how to take some of the small steps that I know are necessary to transform my life. Big steps are crucial, but small steps play their own important role.

    Thanks Tim.

    1. You need to find your muse first to automate your income, then you can rest assured the child support is taken care of, THEN you can surf for a living or whatever it is that excites you.

  3. Great reminder of the power of our choices. Too often we “follow the pack” in life and don’t know why we are miserable.

  4. Thanks Tim, the book and blog are always so inspiring and motivating. It’s so easy to get tunnel vision and spend too much time worrying about unimportant stuff in front of us. Forgetting there’s a big world out there and why we work in the first place – to have money to fund our life, not define it. Great post as always!

  5. I have the fortune cookie “Many a false step was made by standing still” — sitting on my desk at work. I’m staring at it right now. I pulled it out of a fortune cookie just a week ago… (Geez… how many more nudges do I need?)

  6. Buenos días!

    I’m so excited, what about a New Year’s Party? Any hints are to what you’re planning for us? 🙂 I was front row at the Killers concert at the Paramount Studios last year so I can image it being superb with you planning or inviting us to a year end event.

    Anyway, you asked about Liver Tablets: Desiccated Liver Tablets by Jay Robb, I also enjoy his protein powders. By the way, “The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing”- solid source. I got the book for a buck at some hole in the wall bookstore some time ago, I love those types of deals.

    Back to the subject… To be effective is to develop ourselves first and you do a serious well job of explaining that. Staying true to ourselves and working smart should be obvious but it’s not because of the conditioning phases in our lives. Also, the problems occur when we lack commitment, engagement, and have trouble making decisions (good future topic). The token here isn’t about a motivation towards a perfect lifestyle but rather a better lifestyle. What I understood: Don’t try to be perfect, just try to be a better person. It comes with great rewards.

    So, thanks Tim for putting this chapter out there. You’re giving an awesome contribution to help strip those layers of nonsense.

    Everyone, have a fabulous week!



  7. I agree with Ken’s comment completely. My view on life has changed dramatically since reading The 4-Hour Workweek. I’m just waiting for my husband to get on board now! I’m only 36 but already tired of living the status quo.

    Thanks for being such an inspiration Tim!

  8. Hello Tim. My name is Spyros, I live in Greece, in Athens and lately I go every Friday to a calm by the sea village, 100km away from the city to relax and find my balance and go back Monday night. There I read your book and try to think open and make my ideas work. I ve made a site for siblings (like me) of persons with mental ilness and one for ADD –

    I like the way you think. Today I was looking google Analytics and Adwords thank to your book.

    If you ever pass from Athens you are welcome to my appartement, no need to look on

  9. It is inspiring. But I cant help but to think that he had the “money” to move on. Others have keen ideas, stability and support. Maybe thats whats blocking me. The idea of “Money.”


  10. Hi Tim! I’m trying to perfect note-taking as you describe in a previous post and I’m almost done with Waitzkin’s book The Art of Learning. Are you willing to post a photo of your notes from The Art of Learning as you did with the AJ Jacobs book so I can compare and improve my note-taking? Thanks for any help. -Bill

  11. And did you exchange a walk on part in the war for a lead role in a cage? Roger Waters

    Right now I have a lead role in a cage…too many dependants and still haven’t figured out how to support them and live a life outside the cage. i think it’s a lot tougher to do all of these inspired things in my situation but not impossible…that’s why this blog inspires me…people have found a way.

  12. Truly inspiring!!! I think that in our society, one aspect of his success is the fact that he has a degree which he can fall back on, just in case. I’m 21 and graduating from university in the very near future. My dream is to clearly to live a life of virtually unlimited mobility. As Manda mentioned, I will need to save enough, in order to leave and start over.

    Keep up the great posts

  13. Hey Tim,

    The book is amazing and every time I read it I feel inspired. I read a book recently which I think is really noteworthy because it’s kinda on the undercover. Professor Carol Dweck of Stanford has written a very legible book which I think will change a lot of people. It’s called Mindset, and it talks mainly about the differences of the growth mindset vs the fixed ability mindset. Here’s an article in Stanford Magazine that relates to the book:

    I think the book is a worthy read for all

  14. Tim,

    Find your self a woman and start a family. Start living like a man. This bullsh*t you do to impress us is really for kids. Grow up.


    Hi Dave,

    I’m not sure where this anger is coming from. I don’t do anything on this blog to impress you or anyone else.

    As for starting a family, I’m all for it and ready when I find the right person. What’s the rush? That’s rhetorical: for me and most 31-year old males, there is none.

    Relax, big fella! The case studies I offer include families, and my parents have been married for more than 30 years.



  15. I love this story and I can relate to it as well. I just quick my job at the age of 29 and moved to Honduras to live my life by design. It is excited and exhilarating to know that you control your life and not some corporate boss. Mobility is key.

    In regards to Manda’s comment above about the idea of money. I once held the mindset that lack of money was a detouring factor for me to do what I want to do when I want to do it. However, I realized that if I focused on lack all I got was more lack. When I started to focus on abundance and begin seeing that money started to show up in my life and I was able to do what I wanted. I hope this help! 🙂

  16. That sounds great for a 30 something bloke, but what if you’re a genteel woman, who likes a quiet life, watching the garden, tasting the food etc at a leisurely pace, and surfing the waves just doesn’t do it for ya. Peace is so much simpler to attain, and can be got where you’re at, for relatively nothing, at a nice, steady pace. It is surely a mindset. Life is good. And if excitement is what *does* do it for one, then that can be found too, even as a corporate whatever if one looks for it, surely? Love Tim’s blog!!

  17. I love this story and I can relate to it. In October I quit my job at the age of 29 and moved to Honduras to live my life by design. It is exciting and exhilarating to know that you control your own life instead of some corporate boss. Mobility is key. The key to mobility is to find the right business that will allow this mobility.

  18. One of the really truly inspiring anecdotes from the book. One really just needs to make that leap of faith…and trust things will work themselves out. But if not on the first try, with persistence something will.

  19. Hola a todos.

    I loved this story when I read it in your book. Looking at his website, I think he is in Brazil for the mujer atractiva and why the hell not! Good Luck Hans…

  20. Hi Tim,

    This summer I read your book and discovered a whole slew of cool people on the internet like Yanik Silver, Frank Kern, Dan Kennedy and some others.

    These guys are a tremendous encouragement (as well as your forum), but they’re all 1000s of miles away from me. Which makes me ask the question:

    What would be your advice for a student who is working on his muse, feels like he is very close to hitting the turning point when something great is going to happen…yet most of his friends and his whole family laughs him off all the time?

    I can only block these people to a certain extent; most of them are family after all.

  21. Hey Tim,

    That’s from one of my favorite chapters in the book! Nice to put pics to it all (No wonder Hans is laughing- his Brazilian chic is a hottie!!)

    While I appreciate your constant reminders and inspiration of the great things awaiting for many of us, as medical doctor in his mid 20s who has quit his traditional medical J-O-B to join in the NR, I do see the sentiments of a few comments above; quitting a day job, one you’ve done for years or have been trained to do, is a tough reality to action. Most of my medical colleagues would just not have the ‘balls’ to do what I did. They will grow old around a white picket fence, and perhaps happy in their own way. I still don’t ever really fully admit what I’ve done to everyone around me. They just won’t ‘get it’.

    So question as I feel others are raising: is the end goal doing something you love that happens to be profitable enough for your dreamline (with realised costs much lower by freeing time/mobility)? Or is it more realistic to have the outcome arise from testing various streams of passive income and niches (‘muses’), even if they may not be your love and passion?

    Take BrainQuicken for example, which I assume is still one of your most profitable income streams – it’s not what you ‘live for and die for’ (it’s clear you love to write more than dealing with fulfillment!). E-mything that baby certainly allows you to do the things you love, like writing. So was BrainQuicken the ‘right’ first step before you became a writer?

    I’m lucky to have stumbled onto other streams of income to at least pay the bills until I find that ‘right’ thing. But I suspect many other readers are still looking for the ‘perfect’ thing to pursue that fulfills it all- which may never happen. In fact, I may have to backtrack, rethink, simplify and re-evaluate too.


  22. Great story!

    The dream of something more is all some people need to keep the day to day grind going. Some will destroy their current habitat to make changes be damned of the consequences (ala, Mid Life Crisis) eventhough they ultimately do not change. Some will find the balance between taking care of their current “house” while discovering what fuel they need to keep their own fire going.

    All of that being said your site is a great place to find the ingredients you need for the catagory that fits you.


  23. Hi All,

    Thanks for the comments and dialogue!

    A few things:

    -Hans is just one case study, but there are lessons to be learned that apply to single mothers, fathers, or even students. Inertia towards tolerable mediocrity is dangerous. More to come soon on the myth of Point A to Point B. It’ll talk about the intermediate points.


    See above, but the principles can also be applied to the calm and serene life you describe. I’m a huge fan of Epicurus (Google this philosopher, seriously), and I also borrow from Seneca. I think simplicity is beautiful, but achieving it almost always requires massive elimination and selective quitting of things that aren’t working.

    @Vince W:

    Your question is an important one:

    “Is the end goal doing something you love that happens to be profitable enough for your dreamline (with realised costs much lower by freeing time/mobility)? Or is it more realistic to have the outcome arise from testing various streams of passive income and niches (’muses’), even if they may not be your love and passion?”

    “Take BrainQuicken for example, which I assume is still one of your most profitable income streams – it’s not what you ‘live for and die for’ (it’s clear you love to write more than dealing with fulfillment!). E-mything that baby certainly allows you to do the things you love, like writing. So was BrainQuicken the ‘right’ first step before you became a writer?”

    My answer: I think BrainQUICKEN was the right step at the time before becoming a writer. Why? If I had become a full-time writer at that point, I would have felt compelled to write what would sell, not what would be rewarding to me. Remember also that I loved BrainQUICKEN for quite a while — the athletes, etc. — but I hated the 7am – 9pm grind.

    I highly encourage you to check out an article I wrote a while back called “The Dangerous Myth of the Dream Job.”

    Pura vida,


  24. If your job makes you miserable, find something that will bring you happiness. Life is too short.

    john P. Kreiss

    MorganSullivan, Inc.

    business Solutions in Real Estate and Construction

  25. Hey Tim,

    Love that section of the book! In fact we will be filming in Floripa next year. Hans not only is living his dreamline to the max but he also added Nexus models to his roster. Life is good! Talk with you soon!


  26. Hi Tim,

    That is one of my favourite excerpt from your book. I spent the weekend diving followed by canyoning through beautiful and dark canyons, and alas am now back to work as well, sitting and dreaming.

    As manda and some of the others above said, it is scary to make that leap without having some money as backing, but I guess there is never such a thing as enough and it is never the ‘right’ time : )

    Any tips on ripping the band-aid off?

    Thanks for all the awesome inspiration!!


  27. Ideal lifestyles seem to come to those who aspire for them but they seem to happen accidently. What are your thoughts on this? I would assume you were thinking of becoming a writer when you were in your college, were you?


    Jose- back in Dallas. Its raining everywhere in Europe : (

  28. Tim,

    Good post… in theory. But how did he finance this stuff? Obviously as a lawyer, he was much more able to build capital to fund this excursion easier than most. Running away to a tropical isle and starting a business requires a significant amount of capital.

  29. hey tim…

    thanks for posting that dream job article, because i have the so called dream job (working in professional sports) and you’re right, it’s got the long hours, low pay and incredibly nasty office politics. so, what i used to do for leisure is now just a job. so your theory about doing it in less hours is right on the money. still looking for that tho.

  30. Another invigorating reminder that if one does not translate his dream into action, he or she will face a lifetime of regret. I am at a critical juncture where I could either stay the course or muster the courage to do something I had never dreamed of, so this post really hits home with me. Thanks, Tim.

  31. “it’s not giving up to put your current path on indefinite pause.”

    This rang so true for me. Giving up is what holds me back, not so much in terms of giving up on my career, but in terms of giving up on the opportunity that is my current job. What could be. But the reality is, that opportunity and many more like it, will always be there.

  32. Damn does this ring true. I’m living it. Just wrote a book about it.

    That realization about facing forty years of doing the same thing around the same people in the same type office in the same type of building… I know it, felt it. It’s driven every word I’ve written for the past four years.

    The only irreplaceable asset in this world – the only one that matters – is time. Chucking the lion’s share of it at an endeavor that bores you to tears isn’t noble, laudable or inevitable. It’s irrational, and not much else.

    Law’s an insidious, crippling career. Teaches you all the risks, and never highlights the upsides. Hans is right. You’re right. You “can.” You absolutely can. You just have to give up believing all the “narratives” society feeds us.

    Thanks for the site, the book, the ethos.

    Best wishes,


    [Sorry for the removals, but promo URLs have to go in the URL field. Great point on the dichotomous nature of legal training!]

  33. I like the sentence in Tim’s post: “Inertia towards tolerable mediocrity is dangerous.”

    To combat that type inertia I have clipped in my wallet the following quote from the Declaration of Independence:

    “All experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.”

  34. Hi Tim, your book is great and now you

    have a great life on your way. I think that each one must

    find to be better on your own way , as you did.



    PS: I live in São Paulo – Brazil but i love Floripa(amazing place)!

  35. Interesting comments on this post Tim, and it’s so often that question of how people can work at what they love AND earn money that I get asked all the time. There’s no easy, quick fix answer, but shifting how you think is a big step in the right direction, and that’s one of the best parts of your book, in my opinion, that it caused people to stop and question how they’re living their lives and consider an alternative way before years have gone by and they’re left wondering what happened! Eg, another point you make in the book about taking regular, mini-retirements rather than waiting until later in life. Boy am I an advocate of that as I’ve got friends and relatives that worked and saved for retirement only to have a spouse die prematurely or to see their savings dwindle. So even if people simply stand back and take a minute to question their status quo, and start shifting their focus to what’s really important to them, that can be a great starting point. Particularly in terms of realising that it’s a choice (up to a point) to have to keep earning x amount of money to cover a chosen lifestyle. I know plenty of people that choose to live way more simply, and live charmed lives as a result. One of my favourite expressions is “Money is not the only currency”, and those same people tend to embrace that idea.

    Great post, and I look forward to reading more comments as they unfold.

    All the best


  36. The key is to eliminate your anchors and create a location independant business. Fortunately for me I started a graphic design business 13 years ago and have built up a strong client base and reputation. I was always anchored by too much overhead which forced me to be a slave to the business, and clients. I would run the biz, sell jobs, do the work. in came outsourcing and all of a sudden I work half as hard and make twice as much.

    After reading Tim’s book last year, I completely re-thought how my business was organized. I eliminated all debt so all I have to worry about is paying for shelter and food. The lower the overhead, the more money can be used for fun stuff, or to allow for working less.

    Now I am about to spend 6 months riding through Latin America with my camera and laptop. Running the business from the road. The ultimate mobile office.

    My clients are completely supportive and for the most part very jealous. The best comment was “I don’t care if you are on Mars, just as long as you can take are of us”.

  37. As long as you’re revisiting the book, here’s a blog idea:

    What was the transition from entrepeneur to author/guru for you?

    While relistening to the 4HWW audiobook again and reading Dan Kennedy’s ‘How to Make Millions…’ I wondered how you came up with BrainQuicken as your product to sell?

    Beef most people have with your work is that they don’t see the bridge to be able to get to where you are, work-wise.

    How did you use all the great references in the back of your book to formulate an enterpenuerial strategy, select product, discover market, etc?

    I think someone else was asking for your notes from ’22 Marketing Laws’ probably with the same end goal as this request.

    I want to understand the bridge from your time with the data storage company to brain quicken.

    To me it’s the step into the entrepenuerial world that was the first step toward 4HWW.

    PS. I’ve read all the books in the 4HWW reference section but would love to see your ‘notes’ on how you put it together.

    Thanks for your great and inspirational work.

  38. Tim,

    You are my hero.

    I’m 22 soon to be going on 23 and I vow to follow your philosophy and prove all doubters wrong.

    I’m starting from scratch and worry that finding the right muse is the hardest part, but hopefully I will be pleasantly wrong.

    A tip or two for this would be much appreciated.

    Thanks, Nick

  39. Hi Nick,

    Congrats for making to your decision. As I stated in my previous post, I just quick me job last month and moved to Honduras at the age of 29. My purpose is to life my life by design.

    Finding the right stream of income to allow the lifestyle you want to live is important. Personally, I have an internet business online that allows me mobility. I can essentially run my business from anywhere in the world that has an internet connection.

    I hope this helps.

    -Hunter Ogletree

  40. You make it sound so easy. If only it were. I’m sure Mr. Big Shot Attorney had plenty of money to finance his “dream.” For most of the rest of us struggling along, this scenario will remain only a dream.

  41. Tim,

    Great article. I guess it really boils down to what people view as valuable to them. Accumulation of money or memories. Maybe a day in the perfect surf and great weather makes it easier to watch big roaches crawl across your home floor or deal with 6 hour power failures. Some have less to deal with making a big transition, but if someone truly wants to achieve something, they will do it. If not, someone else will.

    And, watch out for Jungle Fever when staying too long in those tropical climates. Makes you batty…

  42. Dave’s anger came from either his fixed station in life or that he is so happy that he can’t imagine doing something else. I pick the former as I read the above post and found myself getting frustrated.

    Mounds of debt from a failing business, foreclosure, etc. To see someone just leave and succeed feels almost impossible as my last two ventures have left me in this spot.

    Besides the idea of picking myself up, how do I get the courage to keep trying and not get a JOB. Confidence and faith isn’t enough. Ask NBA hopefuls or unpublished authors.

    My first venture was something I loved and the second was more practical and I fell into it.

  43. Rehashed but still so good. This book and outlook has definitely made a major impact on my life. I’m not all the way there yet but getting close, and I’m close enough to enjoy every single day of my life.

    Got me some tickets to Thailand too! Woot new continent, plus i hear they have some epic surf.

  44. Here’s a question for the community here: when do you stop automating, eliminating, & determining what’s worth your time? Sometimes I’ve found myself reading or similar for so long it’s wasting my time – the opposite of its intent. Or, every few months I notice I’ll spend a while – hours – checking in/getting excited about the latest idea or gadget that should reduce my workload: omnifocus, iphone productivity apps, this blog… how do you know when to call it? – when to recognize you’re “there” and the system you’ve built up is working and you should stop tweaking and enjoy it?

    Since implementing 4HWW I do value my time, I protect my time against silly office work and I can now easily turn down low paying jobs that I feel aren’t worth my time… but lately I look up from the laptop and it’s been hours spent reading about strategies to maximize my time and my life, essentially. That’s not living how I want.

    What fundamental part of my thinking process is off here? What am I missing?

    Thanks for reading


  45. people have different things in their mind. But I agree that anyone can do anything they like to do. But one must have a good time management to make things go smoothly. And always remember that enjoy everything that you do, in return you will have always a good day. Nice article. Thank you

  46. Tim,

    For Someone Graduating College in 41 days, will start a 9-5 job Feb 1st, and has read and wants the 4HWW what 2 pieces of advice do you have?

    I fear muse creation is the hardest part…

    Your Student,


  47. The tango dancer looks like Penelope Cruz! And yeah, that footwork is remarkable. Thanks for posting it. Are you still doing tango?

  48. Tim,

    I would like to say that there are a lot of folks responding who are content with saying, “That takes “money!” and that they are lazy. My intentions aren’t to call names or start fights, but rather to point out something that is painfully obvious which will hinder these folks from ever stepping into their own self-tailored reality.

    You can pay debt down and off. You can make sound financial decisions to fund your dreams. You can make an attempt and fail. Why not? It won’t kill you! You cannot make up for lost time and I would rather lose that time by trying to improve my situation rather than sitting at a cube and complaining about all of the unfair and painful problems befallen upon me.

    We love you down in Houston!

    Thank you for your inspirational message,

    J Jones

  49. What happened to Hans is referred to as a psychic shift by those involved in spiritual lives (not religious, there IS a difference). He found peace when he was floating in the sky and realized what changes needed to happen.

    Once you cut through the BS you can begin this journey.

  50. Life is an adventure if you make it a priority.

    Managing priorities is more important than managing time, a point you’ve proved (and am continuing to prove) to many,,,

  51. Greetings Tim and everyone else around the world!

    I heard about the recent re-post of this excerpt about my transition out of the corporate world from a close friend who follows all of your work devotedly, and found it quite interesting to read everyone’s comments.

    It’s great to hear that the story has been inspiring to some, and while surfing and Brazil in particular may not be right for everyone (of course not!;), it is nice to see that some of the same principles from my experience can be applied meaningfully in different contexts and assist others in finding the path that is right for them in their own lives.

    While I apprecite kind words as much as anyone, however, what I found most interesting where a few of the posts that were a bit more questioning, and did not accept Tim’s recount of my journey at face value such as the one below:

    “Maybe I’m the only one reading your blog who feels this way, but doing something like Hans did just isn’t an option for me. For instance, I can’t live without a paycheck because I’ve got a child support payment that, if I miss it, will result in the law coming down on me like a ton of bricks. I know, these are just excuses, but I’m assuming that Hans and some of the other people in your book had details that they had to address in their transition from work as drudgery to work as life.”

    While it may come off a bit negative, I think this comment is a very realistic summary of how many people feel when presented with a story like mine, a “radical” change that when told in a short story format, may seem like it was easy. In fact, this couldn’t be further from the truth, and there were many a sleepless night thinking about what to do and how to do it, and of course many a difficult detail to address (including financial, family, work, etc pressures).

    First a comment on the initial statement that “I couldn’t do that.” While one person has child support payments, another will have a grandmother that they help support, another school loans and credit card debt, another expensive prescription medication that isn’t optional, and so on and so forth.

    I don’t know all the details of this particular person’s situation, but I am confident that with careful planning and discipline, even if a move isn’t possible right this moment, that before too long steps can be taken to put oneself in a position to make a seemingly “radical” move of changing your life a bit (which of course from the outside or looking back later in life won’t seem nearly so radical, but when you’re stuck in the rut and don’t see a way out, admittedly can seem very much so).

    Citing one’s particular hardship and using that as an excuse as to why something isn’t possible is in my view a little bit like the people who use as an excuse (in their adult life) the fact they came from a disfunctional family or had some traumatic childhood event and that’s why today they did something they shouldn’t have done. The truth is, we all have SOMETHING disfunctional about our family life or upbringing (of course, we’re all human!), and to cite your particular hardship and use it as an excuse for why you can’t do something today isn’t doing anyone any favors, particularly yourself!

    Another thing the comment suggests is that I had it easy when I made the transition Tim discussed in his book. Indeed when I quit my job finally I was in the fortunate position to be debt free, but this was no accident. I had a hunch fairly early on in my legal career that this was not for me in the long term, and so while many of my colleagues remained steeped in school loans and heaped on the credit card debt, fancy cars, and big mortgages, I took careful steps to try and save money where ever possible, invest what was left over, and live within my means so that when the time came for me to make a change, I would have a bit of breathing room to do so. But trust me that this was not an easy process, and involved several years of discipline and planning.

    That being said, you’d be amazed at how far your money can go these days in the way of starting up a small business. The tools that are available today with modern technology (many of which are discussed at great length in Tim’s book) are truly incredible and can put a small, home based business on a level playing field with blue chip giants (well, almost;).

    In fact Nexus Surf was started with less than $10,000 of start up capital (!). In the early days, we outsourced almost everything (including accommodations), and are biggest start up expense was a web site, which ran about $2,500 dollars (after lots of shopping around!!). Now, this has changed quite a bit of course today, and now large amounts of money have been invested in the business, infrastructure, branding and marketing, but the point is, for getting out of the gate and giving the dream a chance to be born and take on its own life, money (for me at least) was not the limiting or deciding factor. Now this depends of course on what line of business you want to get involved with, but you’d be surprised how far even a little money can go when mixed with creativity and ingenuity.

    As for the question on “intermediate steps”, this is a great one! And indeed there are many, many unglamorous details that are necessary to address in any major transition — such is the nature of our modern and often overly-complex lives! This is something I’d actually like to elaborate on a bit more (demystifying the process of “getting from Point A to Point B”), so will save this for another post, but suffice it to say for now that the answer is “yes!”, these details must be addressed, there’s no way around it. More later on my suggestions on the best way to go about this!

    All the best,


  52. Hey Tim,

    Great Story and very inspiring. My wife and I are working towards freeing up so that we can spend more time with our 2 kids.

    We are lucky as we have pretty much ignored the rhetoric of get a job, get secure, don’t make bad financial decisions etc. We have done it all without putting ourselves or our family in any considerable risk.

    I quit my last job 2 months after it wasn’t fulfilling and lasted only 3 months at the next one. My wife encouraged me to go freelance and I haven’t looked back since. We were broke at the time and most people would consider our decisions insane.

    I am not the smartest guy in the world. I have a BFA and a lot of people consider it a lame degree. But the decision to take the hard and scary route with my partner 12 years ago has given me one of the funnest careers a person could ask for. Oh and just recently I have been offered some great deals that will take care of all my financial risk taking in the past.

    I read your book a month ago. Really only because I was intrigued not because I was trying to change my life at all. But then reading your experiences and ideas made me challenge myself to become even more free.

    So now my wife and I talk lifestyle design all the time. Its fun! And I really appreciate you sharing these stories and commenting back and trying to help people.


  53. Hans,

    Thank for your insight and for inspiring Tim to wrote about you. As I said before, I love your story. I totally agree with your response too. It is true that with a strong desire and purpose, unwavering faith that your desire will manifest as well as massive inspired action to achieve your desire, the universe will bring you anything you want. We are the creators of all the happens in our life.

    Thanks again Hans,

    Hunter Ogletree

  54. Hi

    Thanks Hans for your reply. It confirms my thinking that this sort of change doesn’t happen overnight and first requires one to maneuver themselves to a good starting point (debt, dependencies, constraints) before jumping wholly into the adventure.

    Here in Australia the debt/consumption culture is everwhere. You can (still) borrow ludicrous amounts for mortgages. I have just bought a house but am confident in my calculations that it will be paid off in 6 years.

    I am a low-risk person, fear debt and am still not comfortable with a mortgage. I trust in my spreadsheets and continued employability and believe that as time progresses on the mortgage, I will become more confortable with the risk I have taken and my ability to manage a future greater risk such as a muse.

    To the frustrated people out there. I understand the frustration and stress at seeing every option apparently blocked. I suggest that you start planning on paper. Bite it off in very small chunks and allow yourself plenty of time to get back to a “starting point” yes its frustrating but surely the goal is worth it.

  55. Way to go Hans!! I was just in Rio and Florianopolis respectively last week. Floripa is great, I love the surf on Praia Joaquina and Praia Mole!! Hans is doing it right without a doubt, only if all the other attorneys could sink their toes of the sand of the Brasilian beaches and observe the beauty, then maybe they would be convinced.. but that would be too risky wouldn´t it?? Next time I am in Floripa, I´ll check out Nexus Surf, good stuff, thanks Tim!

  56. Hans did not address the real issue. He was a lawyer. He probably made six figures for a number of years. By his own admission he kept his expenses low and stayed out of debt. This likely gave him a cushion of $100K, $200K or more, which financed his “dream.” That’s all peachy keen if you can swing it. How about the working guy who makes $50K, has two kids and a wife, debts like most other Americans, etc.? I don’t think we’ll see him running off to start a surfing business anytime soon.

  57. Hi Tim and Hans,

    By chance, I came accross two Tim’s articles in two days – this ‘Dreams’ post plus a very different ‘Dangers’ post on

    I am glad to see Tim mention the Dangers post in his comment, because clearly, both articles are needed to get closer to the crux of dream chasing.

    Tim, may I ask you to unite the two in your own words here?

    In your own experience, Hans, are you still enjoying surfing as much as before, or has the surf business turned into another job? Possibly better than the previous one, but still requiring new escapes?

    How about Nexus Divas? Nirvana at last, or again a job beneath the glam? Perhaps again better one than surf business? What is next? There are fewer jobs closer to a dream than taking care of Brasileiras, so have you reached the end of the road? 🙂

    Are you registering tangible advances [which?], or is dream chasing just the next carrot on a stick, after moneys?

    All the best


  58. Hey Tim,

    I’m new to this site after just reading 4hww I had to check the it out. I’ve been on here all morning reading several of the archives. Very good stuff. I’m also happy to see you having a little fun per the topic of this post.

    So if anyone cares, here is my deal. I’m 30 years old and have been climbing the corporate later faster than most. Much of it due to hard work, some if it due to luck. Anyhow, I recently moved to take a new position with a larger company. I moved my whole family which was exhausting as my new son had to have 4 surgeries in his first 3 months of life but he made it through okay and we are becoming acclimated to our new surroundings.

    I’ve been working anywhere from 10 to 14 hour days (in the IT sector) for the last 7 years. I’ve not taken a vacation in almost 2 years and I’m worried I’ve become burned out. I go to work tired and I come home tired. I’m less organized than I used to be and I feel like I’ve lost the 2 things that has made me successful to date – imagination and passion.

    I’m sure my story is similar to many, I’m tired, burned out, stressed out, obligated to just “suck it up” because I need the good paying job to allow my family the comfortable lifestyle we have today. I won’t go into a full dissertation about how rough it is….=0)

    SO with all that being said, I ran across the 4HWW. Talk about new ENERGY! Today, I am going to start my plan which will work backwards from my dream lines. I will provide updates to anyone who is interested and to anyone who is looking to do the same, perhaps we can collaborate together on making the concept of the 4HWW a reality. Will certainly be a frequent visit of the site!

    Thanks for the inspiration Tim. I take my hat off to all that you’ve accomplished and am grateful for you giving me some tools to do the same.

  59. Hi ClawingOut

    Congrats on making this important decision in the life of your family. Today, more than ever, it seems that more individuals are not only noticing the real consequences of “climbing the corporate ladder” but also taking matters into their own hand and looking for a way to design their own life.

    I look forward to hearing about your success.

    -Hunter Ogletree

  60. Hi Steve,

    I can understand where you are coming from as not to long ago I thought that living my “dream” would be impossible. However, I realized that generating a decent income to finance your dream is possible. And best of all, you do not have to be rich or have previously made a six figure income to do it. In fact, I am 29 years old former Peace Corps volunteer and I run a successful internet business online. I launched my business with under $5,000 and no experience in running a business online. My business has been the vehicle that has enabled me to quick my job and move to Honduras. I just brought my laptop and plug it into an internet connection and I can make money.

    I hope this helps.

    -Hunter Ogletree

  61. You can live the life now while enjoying it. Great message by the book and the story. Rah, rah. I hate to be a cheerleader but that just might be the secret to life. Keep chasing the dream but enjoy while you chase. aloha.

  62. A great sign of progress is when you do NOT need to go anywhere to escape, or be on vacation. You can simply work on exercising free choice to be happy in the now. For me, not quite there yet, I’ve gone from adventure travel in Belize, Brazil, Chile, Greece to just a simple walk in the woods by my house.

    One day I hope to dwell from that feeling of freedom in every moment, but its nice to know its just outside my door, not half-way across the world.


  63. Your assumption is that he doesn’t like his life as an attorney. This may or may not be true for everybody. I understand that you don’t want to evangelize this concept, but I believe that for most people that chose their careers concientiously, your suggestion may not be applicable. Also, you can enjoy surfing so much until it becomes boring. What then? Can you go back to your job? Only very few would command the professional appeal that they could go back to their jobs at the snap of their fingers. This sounds too good to be true, and it probably is.

  64. I really loved this story when I read the book. I think we all have this feeling of “I can’t give it all up”. It is the fear of something new and uncertain that makes our comfortable lives seem so great. I didn’t realize how little I was really giving up, until I actually did.

  65. Just reading a copy of the article you wrote that you recommended reading here in the comments ( You are absolutely right. I recently wrote a post on my blog about obtaining your dream job. One of the things i included in this article was the importance of defining your ideal dream job rather than trying to shape your current job to suit your dream.

    The Book was awesome. I still love how clever the title was and how much of a conversation started it is when you recommend the 4 Hour Work Week to others to read.

  66. This is the second time I’ve read Hans’ story, and as an attorney who has taken a leap outside of law to coach attorneys to help them find their passions, I admire Hans! His message, “you can”, although simple, is one of great power and empowerment. Thanks for posting this story that speaks to so many.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  67. After reading this chapter of Tim’s book about a year ago, my husband and I decided it was time to face the excuses we’d been making and finally pursue our dream of moving overseas. We now live in China with our three children. We realize that maybe we could have accomplished what we were looking for (simplified life, more time together, etc.) by staying at home in the US, but being out of our element requires us to live more consciously. It took almost a year to get here, but the work was worth it. Unfortunately, I never finished the book, and won’t any time soon since it got lost in the mail on the way to China. I like to think one of my Chinese neighbors is reading it!

  68. Very cool story, I am on track to resigning from “real world job” shortly and will have my kids as my alarm clock, breakfast with the family and days off when I choose to!

    Thanks for inspiration Tim and Hans!

    Kill it!

  69. I just printed and posted the following on my wall:

    “it’s not giving up to put your current path on indefinite pause.”

    That’s my step one.

    Thank you for sharing Tim.

  70. I really enjoyed this story. Whether or not someone wants to leave everything behind is not the question, the real question is about what we value in life. If you dread every day of work, why not make a change? I used to work in construction every day for years. One day I just dropped everything, and started a real estate company. It was something that interested me, and I wanted to do for a long time. I always watched the house flipping shows on TV, and said “I want to do that”. Within a year I worked my way up, and by the second year I was selling several houses per month, buying houses, and flipping houses. It set me “free” from the prison of 50 hour construction work weeks. It’s not as “cool” as surfing every day, but maybe that will be my next plan after I get sick of real estate!

  71. Hola, I´m a danish girl living in Spain. I´m working hard in a garden center from 9 to … , 6 days a week and some sundays too. I´m reading your book in spanish. I cannot leave my job, because my parents needs this money. Maybe you have some sugest to me. Thank you. Have you ever been in Spain?

  72. This is a great story, and as someone who has been looking to Brazil as a place to relocate for a bit, I have been aware of Nexussurf for a little while.

    Which brings me to what I feel is the real story. These guys have one of the best internet PR campaigns Ive ever seen. Think about it. They are a small surf tourism company that operates out of one location in Brazil. But you cant research Brazil in any capacity without very quickly coming across a reference to them. They were able to score an article on Tims relatively high profile blog. But most of all, they have an Alexa rank of 366,353 with a Brochure site! Do you realize how rare that is? A small business website, not built around content, which has an Alexa rank below 1 million? That in itself is an amazing feat. Their lifestyle is great but the real story, for everyone who aspires to the 4 hour lifestyle, is their PR strategy.

    Just my opinion…

  73. I bought Tim’s book following his appearance on The Today Show where I watched his interview as I got ready for work a while back. He was stating all these things that I believed in for so long, but it just wasn’t socially acceptable to say out loud at work. I couldn’t stop thinking about his interview that day and I knew I had to learn more and read this book. I read the book in about a week and now come back to it for motivation constantly. The Hans story above was one of the excerpts in the book that stood out to me more than anything and provided inspiration. It’s far to easy to fall back into the mode of “this is my only choice in life”.

    It took me a while, but while riding to and from work on the train each day I wrote a small manual/book on how to help student athletes get recruited and promote themselves in a cost effective way to college coaches. It was something I’ve always been passionate about and it was the first step in doing something that would help others and possibly lead to getting into my own business. I’ve now turned it into a web site and created a company out of the whole thing allowing student athletes to publish their own videos, pictures, stats, ect. I made partnerships that have improved it even further.

    The key to all this I believe is taking action. Which is in general what Tim preaches throughout his whole book. I haven’t made a dime of my business yet, but with refinement I believe I’ll have a system that is automated and will help people at the same time, and eventually be a solid business.

    I still have not broken out of my long hour work days in the corporate world, and gotten to do what I really want, but I now have something to work with based off the teachings from Tim’s book. I even use his teachings at work when people make comments like we’re just lucky to have jobs. I ask them is this something they really enjoy and do you really think this is your only choice? The responses are pretty interesting and vary, but they rarely answer with yes I enjoy this job and it very gratifying, this is my dream job.

    Bottom line you’ve gotta start somewhere to fulfill your dreamline even it takes a little while. Just working towards something is a great start. It’s discouraging some days that I’m not there yet, but I pick up that book and read something like Hans had to say above and I’m good to go.

    1. Hi Patrick and all,

      Thanks so much for the comment and kind words! Keep it up and you’ll get there. It just takes experimentation 🙂

      All the best,


  74. Thanks Tim I really appreciate the comment and support. I’m definitely experimenting with what works best to get my user base excited about this web site. I started with a blog as well so this has certainly evolved.

    I’m not sure I would have started any of this without your book. Thanks again!


  75. The dream of shucking it all. I don’t know if the joy of getting away to the land of surf all day is greater if you can only do it in small doses. I know ski bums and I used to think I wanted their life but I have skiied with them and they are bored. Been down that trail a thousand times this year all ready.


    Gotta keep it interesting and changing.

  76. Tim, thank you so much, your book has changed my life. In 8 weeks from now, my fiance and I are embarking on our first ‘Mini-retirement’. 4 months snowboarding in Chile, then 2 months learning to surf in Costa Rica/ Nicaragua. It was inspiration taken from your nook that has been the driving force, so I wanted to thank you.

    We are 25 and 29 respectively, and all our friends and family who know have said we are crazy to leave good jobs especially with today’s economy, but I always counter with your arguments- “when is the perfect time?” I am also finding out first hand why it is better to ask forgiveness then to ask for permission!

    Thank you thank you thank you, and please keep up the blog, I’m an avid follower.

  77. To each his own. We are all different. Choose the life path that will make you happy and have no regrets. We all have choices. Let go of the past if it’s holding you down, look at the now and adjust your priorities to have the future you want.

    Visualize yourself on your death bed. Do you have any reqrets? Have you fullfil your dreams? Have you said “I love you” to your loved ones? Would you be at peace?

    Some of us are not entrepreneur or want to be. Some of us are not driven by money or adventures. Some of us are content to work 9-5 and feel fiancially secure. Bottom line- follow your heart. Do what will make you happy and content. For some of us- it will be spending more time with our friends and family, take more vacations or mini vacations. Take dance lessons and laugh more. Whatever it is- write it done, prioritize it, make plans and take action, even if it is baby steps. Just do it!!

    I realize sometimes it’s easier said than done. I am at a point in my life where I am trying to figure things out for myself. There are things that I have realized and I am taking actions to follow my heart. But there are other things that I am still trying to figure out.

    I am an aspiring entrepreneur. I have so many ideas, but just haven’t figured it out how to put it all together yet.


    I admire your lifestyle. Thanks for everything!

  78. Hi Tim,

    After reading your book and listening to the talk you gave on, I’ve decided to undertake my own project of becoming an all-american lacrosse player in the next 12 months. As a current collegiate player who has a good understanding of the game, I have a strong basic skill set. I was wondering if you could offer any advice regarding your training and acquisition of skills through your various life experiences? How did you pick up these skills so quickly? And how did you target which skills were essential (as opposed to those that would just waste your time)?

    I was thinking that analyzing film and studying techniques of other great players would be a great place to start. And then I could work on mastering one particular aspect of the game. However, how can I identify this aspect? I’d appreciate any advice you could offer. Thanks.



  79. Hi Tim (and everyone else reading),

    Well the journey is about to start…. yes…. and the best part about it is travelling into the unknown. This is something very new for me so I hope I can too surf life and make my own wave to ride!!

    I’m 31 not sure where I will end up but want more than the current 9 to 5 worklifestyle I currently have….

    After reading your book I have decided to take the plunge and travel for one year……North, Central, South America and Canada LOOKOUT!!

    Sometimes you need to take a risk and that is what I have done all thanks to your book…

    Will come back to your site and give you all an update in the near future….

    Hans might even come over for a surf as well on my way through I love to surf and it will always be one of my passion’s in life….

    Anyway pics will be posted on my BLOG I leave the 1st of July 2009


    PS.. I resign in one week the countdown is on

  80. I am an interective designer brazilian but i didn’t find worklifestyle how you are teaching in the book. Anyway, I keep going…

  81. I know too many people that made a choice to become a lawyer or doctor or (fill in the blank), but tell me that they wish they would have chosen something else. Some go on to say that they would never encourage their children to follow the same path or profession.

    When I ask them why they just don’t quit and do something else, the common answer is “I have too much invested in equipment or education.” Another common response is “where else could I make this much money and who wants to go back to school?”

    Could this be the “grass is greener on the other side” syndrome or might it just be middle or late life regret of a choice made when they were 17 or 18? Either way, they seem so unhappy, and that’s no way to go through life.

  82. Thank you for the SEO tips! I am getting a problem, wishing another person here might answer it. Listen, I attempted ‘on page seo’ on my blog, as well as obtaining inbound links. Nevertheless I am still not getting any noticeable final results!

  83. I think it takes courage to be able to pursue our adventures. That is something that we need to do rather than trying to be showing off the possessions that we have.

  84. I’ve been living in Thailand by my own means for 10 years now. This is after spending many years in places like Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic. I love my life. I’ll be 40 this year. No regrets.

    While this story and others are great and achievable, you must have a plan and work that plan if you want any of it to happen. It cost money to get to these places and live an existence that isn’t that of a street beggar. It also costs money to deal with the visa situations in these countries if you want to stay long term. You can’t just legally show up and stay in many of these countries until you feel like moving on.

    It’s not as cheap to live abroad as people make it out to be unless you truly “throw it all away” and live like a local, which isn’t a bad thing, but it can be difficult if you are accustomed to any sort of western style of life. And by that I don’t mean BWMs or nice dining, I mean living in secure areas where you are not robbed, having clean water (having water), or living in a positive environment. Believe it or not but looking at extreme poverty every day can wear your down mentally.

    But YES, you can do it! You just have to plan your work and work your plan. Have passion and a goal, and make it happen. Just don’t think it is cheap or always convenient. It’s all about planning and following your heart. Just please don’t fall for the fairy tail, as I’ve seen many do and they usually end up back where they started, but worse off.

    One more thing… the grass is not always greener. It’s just usually different grass.

  85. I have so much respect for people who followed their dreams and disregard what other people will say. It is you who holds your self, it will only be you who can reach your dreams and there is no one except you who can decide for who you wanted and what you wanted to become. People who survives from great heat of their routinized job does not mean that they gave up easily rather they take a leap to travel and reach their goals in life. It takes courage and planning to become the person you want to become. It takes determination and perseverance. Nevertheless, these are possible if you know for yourself what you want to achieve. Most of us wants to achieve something but when you ask them to elaborate what they wanted in life, they won’t be able because they are not sure. Know yourself better, and know your dreams. List down your dreams in life and see it everyday, It will keep you going and going until you reach your destination. Thank you for inspiring me. Your words are my fuel to keep me going.