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3 Things I've Learned From Not Having To Work All Year

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Timothy Ferriss calls this Filling The Void. When you have your passive income (muses) setup, left your old 9-5 job and you basically no longer have to work, what do you do?

I get the “But I love my job…” thing a lot – most of the time people find it difficult to actually think outside of what the society “expects of you”.

My own journey towards a 4 hour workweek has certainly also added some learning points and let me start out by saying that the goal is not a four hour workweek in itself! My goal is more to be able to do and work with whatever I’m passionate about. This means that I can spend time with my family, work on projects I find interesting and basically have the opportunity to “select my own battles”.

As it looks right now, I really only have to work (as an IT consultant working for hours) 3-4 months next year which is even better than this year where I probably end up working 6 months.

So what did I learn about myself in the progress? This post as you might already have noticed, is pretty much about me and my journey, you might be able to find some stuff in there that you can use in your own journey, or you might just find it a little too much of an ego post. Either way, I would love to get you input on how you would live you life if/when you wouldn’t have to work!

So back on track… What I’ve learned from not having to work for six months this year!

1 – I need to know what to do before I do it

Sounds basic right? Well… when I’m out working as a consultant I seldom take time out to think about what I’ll do when I don’t have to work, so once I don’t have to work I spent the first week trying to figure out what I should do the next couple of months. A trip to our house in Thailand is of course planned months in advance, but I’m really bad at planning what to do there before we arrive (I’m generally really bad at planning). So I’m basically going there without a plan for when to spend time with the family and what to of my own projects I want to work on (and when). My usually plan is “I figure it out when I get there”.

The problem for me with this approach is that I didn’t have an overall strategy for what I wanted to get done, so while I might have worked on a few projects, I stretched my self over too many projects that for the most part is not really aligned with my overall strategy. Guess that I fell for the “shiny objects syndrom”. People said that this and that was working for them, so I thought I would give it a try. The problem was that this was basically stuff that I wasn’t very passionate about, so it quickly lost focus (such as my niche site on baby sleep). I did it because it didn’t really take much time for me and I figured that I had the time (to do it… there is also the whole “how the hell do I get traffic” thing).

So I’ve realized that

  • I need to focus on my overall strategy and make sure that my projects are all aligned with this.
  • I need to be passionate about the projects I’m doing in order to make sure that I will actually keep a focus on them.

2 – I should charge for my time

This probably sounds a bit odd. I am most certainly charging for my time when I’m working as an IT consultant, but because I’ve been really passionate about helping other people work less and follow their own passions, I haven’t charged anything for the coaching session I’ve done.

I just love trying to help people, so I covered the coaching in under my “free time”. Heck I thought, I don’t need to make any money on this. And while that is true that I do not *need* to make money, I still feel that I provide value. Also people are more likely to be are bit more serious about the whole thing if they need to pay for the advice.

Don’t get me wrong, you can still send me an email through my contact form and I will answer personally (no virtual assistants there) – but I probably won’t do the indepth analysis of your business or do Skype sessions for free.

I’ve also thought about how I can get my message out and help an even bigger crowd, and since I don’t feel that 1 on 1 sessions scale that well (remember I’m trying to cut down on working for hours), I’m currently trying to empty my head into a structured online coaching program – but I will probably write more about this in future posts. If you would be interested in a structured coaching program that helped you live a “four hour workweek” be sure to sign up for my newsletter as my regular readers will be the first to know of this when it launches.

3 – Spending Time With The Family Is Awesome

It is a priveledge to be able to spend months at a time together with my family. Normally you just get to spend one or perhaps two weeks of vacation together and then you normally don’t even get to “stress down”. The months we spend this winter in Thailand gave us an opportunity as a family that I wouldn’t have traded for anything in the world.

When that’s said, I sometimes move out of the house (when we’re in Denmark that is) in the daytime in order to be able to focus on specific projects. When you need to get something done on a project you (well I do at least) really need several hours of undisturbed hours which can be difficult if I’m just sitting in the “home office”.

You also get a little weird when you just sit in front of a computer wearing only tights, haven’t shaved for a week and can’t remember when you showered the last time :).

Current focus

Lately I’ve been working with getting more focus and integrating long term strategy into my work. This means abandoning a few projects that are really just time wasters. They could perhaps generate money over time, but there are other projects I’d rather work on and I’m more passionate about and need the focus. After the Experts Academy I’ve been really inspired to do something about the online coaching program and this will take a lot of my time, energy and focus, so other projects will need to be left behind.

So when my current consultancy gig ends here in October, I feel I have a strategy for what I want to do. Also I’m going to be a father (for the second time – yeah) in January to a little baby boy, so the family is also high on the priority list.

Photo credit: Karen Brazier

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17 Responses to 3 Things I've Learned From Not Having To Work All Year

  1. At the moment my focus is on becoming location independent. That project will take maybe one more year to accomplish. Great that you have already climbed to the next level and can have more free time to spend with your growing family + travel.

    I’d most likely spend more time traveling and enjoying different flavors of the world. Thanks for the inspiration!

  2. […] your passive income (muses) setup, left your old 9-5 job and you basically no longer have to work,http://my4hours.com/3-things-ive-learned-from-not-having-to-work-all-year Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. This entry was posted in […]

  3. David says:

    Hey Rasmus!

    Well, I guess for most of the regular 9-5 jobbers not knowing what to do duringyour months of not working sounds like a ‘luxury problem’ 🙂 I haven’t been in this situation yet, but I can see that filling the void can indeed be an issue. Therefore Tim Ferriss also dedicates a whole chapter to it, if I am not mistaken. I do think that you can only get so much happiness from traveling etc. At the end of your life it will probably not so much be the fact where we travelled to that counts for ourselves, but rather what we did to/for others and how many people benefitted from having known us.

    Therefore I really believe that the person who is living a 4HWW lifestlye will only be truely happy after engaging also in charity related work. This could mean in your case that you teach people (for free) in Thailand how to create their own 4HWW.

    Regards from Greece,
    David

    • Rasmus says:

      Hey David,

      Excellent point. Also notice that not all are passionate about traveling, so it’s really more about finding your true passion and following that.

      To be honest I haven’t done much charity work, but we also have a good social security in Denmark so the need is not so big as in the states.

      Among other things we get free medical treatment, free education, a rather high social security pay out if you cannot find a job and so on.

      But I’ve actually thought a little about it lately, so I guess that’s something I could also blog about.

  4. Jack says:

    You really had excellent point.I also observe that not all are enthusiastic about traveling, so it’s really much more about finding your true passion and after that. To tell the truth I haven’t done much charity work, but we have an excellent social security in Denmark and so the should get is not big as in the states.

  5. Hey Rasmus,

    I mistakenly read your name as one from a post title. Please forgive me mate.

    Mr Twenty Twenty

  6. First of all, great post! Just found your blog and it is now in my RSS reader. 🙂

    Spending 1-2 months with your family in a warm sunny country sounds great. But I have to ask, how does your “significant other” generate income? Is she also a 4hw:er or is she on a leave from an employment during this time?

    • Rasmus says:

      Hey Anders
      That’s an excellent question. She is actually still working as an HR consultant, but has been on an extended maternity leave for some time now. I’ve also had her employed in my company as “administrative worker” and paying her a little money in order for her to stay home with our now two children (something she really want to do).

      What the future will bring is a bit uncertain in this aspect, but currently I’m generating enough money for her to stay home if she wanted.

  7. Thanks for your reply, what a great way to use the maternity leave. I will keep this in mind for the future!

  8. Buford Rivenburg says:

    Very educated blog, I really like it. I learn a lot from your website. .Have a nice day

  9. I own a US based IT consulting business and have been location independent for the last two years, traveling in South America. I am working about 20 hours per week on my business and just hired a PT COO so I expect to work less on it in future while expanding my profits.

    Filing the void: I am working on several muses including websites and ebooks. And also turning one of my hobbies, photography, into a side business by selling stock photos and doing travel photography in exchange for free spa and hotel stays.

    I also am learning Spanish, teaching yoga, learning Salsa and Tango and doing healing on other travelers. Traveling too! I too do coaching. I have played with doing paid coaching with regular clients in the past and for now I am happy helping people out for free.

    I also spend time playing with math (I student math at uni) and on self growth and clearing up old patterns that I have. Actually for me that was the hardest thing in moving to a 4HWW life style – giving up the old family and society patterns/expectations about working 40+ hours per week in a regular office.

  10. jez says:

    Hey guys, nice article! The Wife & I are 34 and 39 and semi retired 4 months ago. Even though we’re relatively new to the whole concept we’ve always known that working has little place in fulfilling life for us. We figured there were two options (there may be more or less for others depending on goals) either we don’t save or invest our hard earned bucks. Spend everything we have on consumerism. Or, we save to the max and one day not have to work. Needless to say we took the better sounding option and now 10 years later, here we are!

    We began our financial independence by taking a couple of months off overseas. We saw how a portion of the rest of the world live and how they had so much less than us in Australia but are so much happier and their lives made so much more sense. We will be taking a few more trips this year. Looking forward to seeing a bit of Europe for sure

    Now days we do whatever we feel like and it’s difficult to go out and do work or look for odd jobs because (I think anyway) once you realize you don’t NEED to. You don’t want to.

    We go out for coffee alot, hang at home with the pets,read, lounge around, feel we have time and energy to see things and people more. Nothing amazing but the secret to an awakened existance is living in the now. There is no tomorrow or yesterday. The only thing that matters is the now. Time is an illusion and if you live in the now, weather you’re at work, sick in hospital or out doing whatever it is you love most you must be at one with the now. It’s the only time there is.

    • rasmus says:

      Hi Jez

      Awesome, thanks for sharing. While not everyone are the same, everyone at least owe it to themselves to figure out if the “normal way of life, with a 9-5” is the right way to live.

      And on a side note…. I would love to see Australia one day 🙂

      /Rasmus

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