The 4-Hour Workweek: Chapter Summary (Chapter 14: Mini-Retirements)
Chapter 14, the chapter on mini-retirements, is longer than most—and understandably so, since that’s what everything else has been leading up to. If you’re still not ready to take the plunge at this point, you will be by the time you reach the end of this chapter. It covers everything in meticulous detail—from addressing fears, values, and travel styles to tips on everything from airfare and itineraries to packing. And that’s just getting started. Ferriss doesn’t do the work for you because that would ruin the fun (aside from being impossible), but he certainly takes care of a lot of the preliminary thinking and research and refers you to useful resources for the rest. By the time you finish the chapter, you will have no excuses remaining. On top of that, the variety of personal anecdotes throughout the book makes it abundantly clear that there is no single way to go about this phenomenon called Lifestyle Design. In fact, if by the end of chapter you don’t yet find yourself wondering why you’re paying more to receive less … well, as Ferriss and others suggest, you might try a little fear-setting (imagining the worst-case scenario and then really questioning its likelihood), or you could break the inertia by just doing it. Remember, this is a mini-retirement—not the rest of your life … unless you want it to be.
On to the nitty-gritty. What is a mini-retirement, anyway? As the name suggests, it is the experience of retirement—of relaxation and exploration—spread out in small bits over a lifetime rather than saved up for the end, when the health and energy to enjoy it may or may not be there. Here is where Ferriss addresses a lot of the “keeping-up-with-the-Joneses” fallacies—the idea that we need a lot of money to fulfill our dreams, that life has to be on fast forward all the time, that work, weekends, and vacation all have to be grueling whirlwind marathons that leave us feeling confused as to where we were on which day. The mini-retirement is more than a small vacation or taste of retirement: it is a chance to reevaluate life from a different perspective, to slow down and actually smell the coffee or the roses or the sea breeze; to make new friends and try new lifestyles; to have more space in our environment and in our heads; and—yes—to have the time of our lives in ways we may never have dreamed possible. Ferriss is not at all suggesting that we give up life. Quite the contrary, his point is that there is far more to it than a one-sided culture and lifestyle can allow us to experience—and it’s far more readily accessible than we imagine.
What about all the things standing in the way—the children, the mortgage, the career, the health issues, etc.? Most of the book prepares us for just these questions, but whatever doubts we may still entertain are dealt with in this section. Half the excuses end up having no basis, and the other half turn out to be reasons to go rather than stay.
A good chunk of the chapter deals with the logistics of traveling and the preparation leading up to it. This section of The 4-Hour Workweek is like having your own personal travel coach who walks you through every step from A to Z. Here are a few of the things Ferriss covers:
· the relative affordability of international travel, a.k.a getting way more bang for your buck overseas than at home
· the relative sanity of a mini-retirement versus “binge traveling”
· creating mental, emotional, and physical space by eliminating the unused junk (even if you don’t think it’s junk) from your life
· traveling with children
· getting the best deals on airfare
· packing light
The Questions and Actions and Tools and Tricks sections get even more specific, leaving virtually nothing to chance; and for those who still feel that they need more, there is the support of fourhourblog.com and its related forums. Here are some of the issues that these final sections deal with:
· taking “an asset and cash-flow snapshot”
· choosing a mini-retirement location
· applying Pareto’s Law to your belongings (as emotionally hard as that may be)
· automating your bills
· choosing someone you trust as your power of attorney
· scanning and photocopying important documents
· getting immunizations and vaccinations
· setting up overseas phone options
· tips on finding an apartment
· buying medical evacuation insurance
· and the list goes on …
Ferriss not only practically holds your hand to the airport, he’s there to greet you on the other end with advice about apartment hunting, cell phones, local health insurance, stocking up and paring down.
Don’t forget, though, that the point of all of this is to eliminate not just the junk from your life but the Adventure Deficit. Ferriss himself has fond memories of his first forays into the unknown and the sense of excitement it brings. If fear is the issue, all you need to know is that most who have taken this route find it to be no big deal after the first few rounds—and even to have unexpected advantages. The truth is that in this age of immediate and plethoric information, it’s hard to reproduce genuine adventure. So bring your brain, heed the warnings and advice, and enjoy the excitement while you can!