Why Do People Hate on the Four Hour Workweek?

By Sean Ogle •  Updated: 05/16/11 •  4 min read

Lately I’ve been seeing an increasing amount of cynicism and negativity towards the concept of the Four Hour Work Week.

I think it’s been made clear that the message in that book was obviously not, quit your job and only work four hours a week, but rather, that there is a more fulfilling way to live your life.

Yet, for whatever reason over the last few months, more and more people have been speaking up with their disillusionment with the whole lifestyle design thing (or whatever you want to call it), and it’s got me wondering what has changed, and what the reasons are for the negativity.

There could be a variety of reasons some are feeling this way.  If I had to guess it’s probably for a combination of the following reasons:

They Tried, They Failed

For every blog that sees success in this niche, there are dozens of others that never find their feet.

This can be frustrating.

When you’ve got bloggers with large audiences preaching a lifestyle that is so great, and so attainable, it can be tough once you realize, that while simple, it’s anything but easy.

The Blog was Their Business Model

I’ve talked to SO many people who started a blog, wrote a few posts, put a few affiliate ads up, and expected to be able to quit their job within a few months.


It’s been said over and over again, but this is not a business model.  What value are you offering to your readers? Not much in that case.  People are savvy these days, they know a pitch when they see one, and if you try and sell them stuff before you’ve earned their trust, you can bet they won’t be sticking around long.

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They Failed to Learn any Real Skills

This one is the most important for me.  While going through the process of blogging will teach you a lot about the internet and WordPress, if you don’t learn skills that you can in turn market and sell, you’re going to have a tough time.

Save for the rare exception, most successful bloggers I know “made it” by doing something other than their blog. They did design, consulting, freelance writing etc. This in turn allowed them to build credibility, an audience, an in turn make their site profitable.

Why People Hate the 4 Hour Work Week

Sure, there are a lot of other potential things that could have gone wrong, but most are just details, and fundamentally I think it will boil back down to one or all of these three points.

Personally, I don’t care when people voice their opinions, they’re entitled to them.  What I have a tough time with is shooting people down when all they want is to be happy.

After all, that’s what all of these sites are about right? The pursuit of a better life? People trying to do something they care about?

You’ll never find me criticizing someone for doing that, even if they do put out a crappy ebook about building a blog.  They’re just searching for something better.  Chances are their ebook won’t sell, and then they will try something else, but at least they haven’t given up on the idea of happiness.

I’ll admit, it does get more difficult to decipher those worth trusting and those who are faking it.  As more people build blogs and websites, automatically everyone is an expert.  Everyone can share their opinion, and all you need is a decent blog design to convince people you’ve got some credibility.

That’s enough to piss some people off.

However, you’re smart.  Your BS meter is good.  Don’t get mad for what someone else is doing, just quietly close their site, and move on to the next – or better yet, work on yourself.

What I love most about this blog and our Location Rebel Academy community is that everyone is so supportive of each other.  Everyone wants to see their peers succeed. That’s rare.  You don’t find many places where there is so much support.

I hope that never changes, because when it does, there will be a lot of people who settle for unhappiness, and in my mind, that’s unacceptable.

Ready to start building a real lifestyle business that will give you the freedom to quit your job, work from anywhere, and spend more time doing the stuff you love? Awesome, I’m ready to help. Click here to get started for free.

Sean Ogle

Sean Ogle is the Founder of Location Rebel where he has spent the last 12+ years teaching people how to build online businesses that give them the freedom to do more of the things they like to do in life. When he's not in the coffee shops of Portland, or the beaches of Bali, he's probably sneaking into some other high-class establishment where he most certainly doesn't belong.
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28 comments on "Why Do People Hate on the Four Hour Workweek?"

  1. Good points, Sean. I think you have hit it dead on. What many people didn’t take out of the 4HWW is the fact that its more of a mental attitude and a lot of hard work. We all know Tim works more like 80 hours a week most likely on his brand, but is able to do it as he wants, when he wants. So many people are out there looking for the quick and easy way to be famous or a millionaire, is pounded into society now. Few realize the importance of hustle and just doing something to get out there, even if you keep failing, at least you’re learning something, and having the guts to try it.

    1. Jaemin Yi says:

      And not only is it hard work, but I think there’s another reason for the backlash: even when you do achieve the 4HWW lifestyle, it’s not all rosy and peachy.

      Maybe the backlash is mostly coming from people who haven’t achieved the lifestyle yet, but for those of us who have (or are pretty damn close to it), it can be a little disconcerting when you realize that this lifestyle is also full of it’s ups and downs, trials and hardships, goods and bads. I think Sean’s latest post definitely touches on this.

      Don’t get me wrong, I would NEVER trade this lifestyle for anything else. Having complete freedom and control over my life is something I could never give up. But just attaining the 4HWW lifestyle will not be the end to all your problems.

      In fact, it’s the beginning of a whole new journey that’s all and 100% up to you (which is thrilling, terrifying, and awesome all at the same time).

      1. Excellent point Jaemin!

        For those with passion and enthusiasm for living life to the fullest. The journey is never done.

        If we’re not growing, we’re dead.

        To the adventure!
        Elizabeth Grace

  2. Janet says:

    I started to realize/notice that maybe people want to see me succeed when I got RTs on my tweets about starting my business and offering 25% off.. I want to further this theory by launching some sort of project/campaign on my blog.. still brainstorming particulars but I think it will work.

    I don’t like the four hour work week of ‘working four hours’ because I don’t think it’s realistic and if you really want to succeed in something, be it blogging or a business… you have to work more than 4 hours at it! The take home for me though (well, I never read it) is that I should ENJOY my work to the point where it doesn’t even feel like work. Getting there.. 🙂

  3. Craig says:

    Great insights. Can relate to frustration point, esp finding the right “muse”.

    Hate when people hate on Tim Ferriss. It was just a clever marketable title. Did they even READ 4HWW? Tim says you have to busy your ass to get to the 4 hr week, you don’t just start there. We likely wouldn’t be talking about the concept of “lifestyle design” if it wasn’t for that book.

    When it comes down to it, I think you just gotta hustle. If you need a framework get a system like M6 Method (if you don’t want to hold out for Location Rebel 🙂


  4. Joseph Rice says:


    great post. it’s worth noting that a lot of people think the route to success is an easy one, when it’s not (well, for 99.9% of people).

    an easy way to get distracted from what you’re doing is to focus on what everyone else is doing.

    build community, put out great content, learn, learn, learn! work hard, and things will fall your way. it takes time and determination. not everyone realizes that.

    thanks for the timely reminder.


  5. Thumbs up, Sean. Great points to think about, thanks for bringing em up and pointing them out. Keeps even me that little bit more honest. 🙂

  6. Benny says:

    I do agree the title is misleading but the message inside is what resonates with me. Find ways to enjoy life now instead of when I’m old and gray.

    I have found most bloggers do want to see other bloggers succeed. It’s a pretty supportive bunch. It’s better than the real world. If you tell people you want to be a digital nomad, they’ll think you’re nuts. Anything but working 9-5 in an office is nuts. But instead that’s crazy!

  7. James says:

    I read and heard a lot of the criticism aimed at the 4HWW and finally had to read the book for myself. I found it to be an inspirational book and I think it is a pretty good resource when combined with all of the additional resources online. Yes, some things are a little simplistic and a bit self-helpy but I think the overall idea of working for life experiences rather than for things is something worth exploring.

    Not everyone can have a blog with thousands of visitors a day just like not everyone will be able to find a successful product to market or sell. Everyone can, however, add more value to their existing skill set and reduce the debt and distractions in their life.

  8. Mark says:

    The stuff that isn’t chaff will stick around. I think there will be a future for creation, facilitation, and scanning. “Lifestyle design” provides models, not “quick-and-easy solutions” for life.

    Life is damned hard, and we’re all trying to find new language to dress ancient ideas that nudge us toward a more abundant life. Yours is set. The half-focused sites that are too preachy will not last.

    There is nothing wrong with a niche–it’s the “untranslatale” essence of the individual/s story that “becomes the platform.” I agree with your idea re: support (cf, you and Joshua/Ryan…even though your angles are, well, 180).


  9. Eugene says:

    I totally agree with Benny – everyone wants these books to give them a formula, whereas the 4HWW really is just a thought piece with some general guidelines to get started. You still have to hack your way through to get what you want (money, free time, whatever you defined in your dreamline)…

    Great stuff Sean, as always.

  10. I only started judging LD when the very people touting it were at the same time knocking other people for their lifestyle choices. I’ve seen supposed LD followers on Twitter taking jabs at other people for what they spend their money on, using advertising to make money off their blog, waking up at a decent hour to do actual work, etc. It’s like they laugh in the faces of the rest of us who actually don’t mind putting in 50 hours a week for what we want.

  11. Andrew says:

    Hey Sean & 180 community,

    Couldn’t agree more. A working week of 240 minutes ‘might’ be achievable after about 2-3 years of systemising (word?) ‘everything’ your business does.

    But the 4HWW is really a clever abbreviation for testing markets, outsourcing, leveraging the internet and focusing on enjoying your life now, it’s really a mindset shift.

    You know if someone has read it and enjoyed it, chances are you’re going to get along just fine.

  12. Has there been an increase in lifestyle design hate? I haven’t noticed.

    I firmly believe 80%+ will fail, and do expect a backlash as they realize they can barely make $30-$50,000/year blogging and selling products if even. It’s hard to live a comfortable life and raise a family on that, which is why most will just give up all together.

    However, I definitely know at least 10 bloggers who are making well over $100K a year. 10 out of how many though…….


  13. chris says:

    How can you follow something when the title is in incorrect? That’s F crazy man. I think that proves how stupid people who follow this shit are (sadly, it’s mostly my American brothers and sisters who fall for this shit). I know many people who work while they travel (i’ve been doing it for 7 years) and have noticed that the most sucessfull ones ignor the hype and just get on with shipping product. This whole game is nothing new: people have been growing businesses while they travel for years. It’s just BS people like you can capitalise on.

  14. Elisa says:

    A couple things (as one who has recently been vocally critical of lifestyle design blogs, which is hilarious as my blog is often pushed into the niche). The first being, people question things they don’t understand, and often lash out rather than admit they don’t. 4 Hour Workweek – WTF is this guy doing?! Selling the most high-priced smack available on Earth for only 4 hours a week?! Rather than taking the time to read the book/blog, they assume that he is a snake oil salesman selling an impossibility.

    Which brings up thing two, the snake oil salesman. Let’s face it…being successful in the arena is hard work but it isn’t exactly rocket science. And there are people out there who excel at putting forth minimal effort and getting a maximum result. Unfortunately, when they write the same post for 3 weeks straight, it is obvious just how much depth they have and how much they are willing to invest in their OWN growth.

    Finally, there is the attitude of some lifestyle designers, that their lives are so much better than everyone else. It is a double edged sword, really. Their careers dictate that they constantly regale how awesome their life is so that others will want to buy what they are selling to have an awesome life as well. Some succeed at living an awesome life and encouraging others to do the same, some are just kind of douchey and condescending and are spoiling it for the good ones.

  15. I think you’re first point is the big one Sean. It’s been about the right amount of time since the book came out for a lot of people to try blogging and the whole lifestyle design out and see if it works. And they failed. They tried to work 4 hours a week from the start and it didn’t work. What they forgot about was the 80 weeks for 10 years before that that Tim put in to get to that point.

    I love that Tim put a name to things in that book but I hate what the name implies. You can’t have the perfect life working 4 hours a week. You can have it by choosing exactly what you want to do and hustling like crazy.

  16. There are definitely a few 100 hour work weeks before you can start basking in the 4 hour ones. Definitely like you said, pick what you are good at, and HONE that skill as best as you can. Also, like Ferriss says, know need to be a master, just exceptional enough to do the job extremely well.

    My site is to document the entrepreneurial lessons that help me achieve success. I know that I will hugely profit from my site, that is why I work on business elsewhere, then when that blows up, I have something to refer and gain more trust.

    Until then, interesting/fun to write articles will do for me. I enjoy the outlet to write creatively, and help people who pass by.

    Surfs up,

  17. I think Ross says it perfectly in his last 2 sentences. The key to being satisfied with what you do isn’t doing less, but doing what you want to.

    The 4HWW book inspired me to change to a university in another country so I can live with my girlfriend, definitely the thing that will make me really happy, but the extra courseload (and learning a 2nd language -native level- in 5 months time) have made it into more of a 70HWW, major hustling included. Did the 4HWW work for me? Yes, definitely. I eliminated clutter, I set goals/dreamlines, and couldn’t have been happier despite working about 18 times more hours than recommended.

    From what I see, most people that tried and failed put too much effort into not working too much, whereas they should have put effort into building a solid business and/or gaining sufficient marketing and sales knowledge. The few who live off their blog all have the same things in common – great content, a strong selling proposition, a good business model. Those things take time to build – not the kind of time found in a four hour work week. When things are up and running, you’ll be able to ease back on the hours.

  18. Dave says:

    The 4HWW laid out a framework for selling some sort of product and then creating a process around it so that you gradually spend less and less time personally involved in it. Throw in living somewhere cheap if you’re so inclined and get a better quality of life with less effort. Brilliant concept!

    But what is the end result that we’re left with? A handful of people doing well creating interesting products you probably haven’t heard of for a niche market, and hundreds of bloggers trying to make themselves rich by telling people how to get rich.

    Check out some of the affiliate marketers who are selling BS ‘beat google’ software etc and ask yourself how far from this nonsense some of the more recent things sold under the banner of ‘lifestyle design’ is from it.

  19. Matt bailey says:

    The internet ia definately loaded with people telling people to quit their jobs. 4HWW inspired me to jump out of planes and leap off bridges. I have a blog that has introduced me to others and even changed others lives. I now have my first business and will begin to market it.

    I think its great but it ia definately hard and the market is very flooded. Its fun though 🙂

  20. Quincy Hershey says:

    Hata’s gonna hate!

  21. Thanks for the insight Sean.

    I think the danger in the 4-hour workweek is that people can get fixated on that single goal without making incremental process.

    In my experience as a full-time, location-independent entrepreneur for over five years, I’ve found that the key to happiness for myself and for my time coaching clients around the world is being balanced along the way.

    If entrepreneurs see only two alternatives: working crazy hours or running a fully automated business, they tend to get really frustrated.

    But if you enjoy life on your journey to a fully automated business, you don’t regret the time you invested and often are quite happy putting in more than 4 hours a week.

    To the adventure!
    Elizabeth Saunders

  22. Steve says:

    What a lot of these people failed to get from the book was that Tim worked 100+ hour weeks BEFORE getting to the point he could get everything done in 4 hours a week!!

  23. Rasmus says:

    People tend to forget that Tim worked 80+ hours per week before trying to optimize the system. It is all about finding your passion and building your business and life around this.

    I do workshops on the 4hww model here in Denmark and actually have to spend a lot of time telling people what is actually possible. When they’ve all been breastfed with the “deferred life plan” it is hard to get them to realize that there are other ways.

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