Few individuals have been more instrumental to the rise of “lifestyle design” and digital entrepreneurship than Tim Ferriss.
If you were to ask 100 entrepreneurs (or 400+ as I have) to name the three most influential books that guided their journey, at least 80% of them would name The 4-Hour Work Week.
And, since the publication of his first book, Tim has continued to mold and shape the entrepreneurial landscape with the wild success of his podcast, 5 other best-sellers, and an undying commitment to challenge the status quo.
He’s revolutionized our understanding of success, fulfillment, and learning and almost single-handedly shaped an entire generation of entrepreneurs.
And today, I want to share 11 of the best Tim Ferriss Quotes that will challenge the way you look at life and success, increase your efficiency, and give you unprecedented perspective into how the top 0.01% actually think and operate.
Let’s dive in.
The 11 Best Tim Ferris Quotes to Help You Escape the Rat Race, Join the New Rich, and Live the Good Life
1. “My definition of luxury has changed over time. Now, it’s not about owning a lot of stuff. Luxury, to me, is feeling unrushed.”
For most men, luxury is defined by the accumulation of fancier and fancier “stuff”. The 6 bedroom custom home (for a family of three), the $80,000 Mercedes, the designer clothes, the overpriced watch, the ultra high definition OLED 4k 70” TV (complete with an epic surround sound system).
We’ve bought into the societally propagated lie that luxury means more. But I’ve noticed both in my own life and the lives of the hyper-successful men and women I’ve interviewed that the attainment of these vanity items does little to fulfill us.
Instead, luxury, true luxury, is the ability to wake up when you want, to spend your days as you want, and to feel unrushed as you meander to and from your daily obligations.
And luckily, you don’t need to waste 30 years pursuing an extra ‘0’ in your bank account to learn this lesson. By committing to less, embracing minimalism, and investing your time and money in ways that bring more freedom and mobility into your life, you can enjoy the greatest luxuries life has to offer now. You don’t need to wait for an 8-figure acquisition or a 6-figure payday.
You simply need to accept that real luxury is freedom. And that freedom is available to you the second you are willing to shift your life to attain it.
2. “What might this look like if it were easy?”
As simple as this Tim Ferriss quote might sound, its implications are profound.
Us humans have a pesky proclivity toward complication. We convolute everything we touch and wrap even the simplest of desires in a mile of red tape and needless bureaucracy.
But what would it look like if it were easy? What if your goals weren’t as complicated and confusing as you make them out to be? What if happiness was easier to attain than you ever dreamed?
A perfect example of this is the common goal many men have to transform their bodies. They waste countless hours researching the exact macronutrient breakdown they should follow, the specific rep ranges, volume, and time under tension they should use while training, and the most fringe supplements and drugs to help them get the edge.
But when it’s all said and done, building a better body is easy, or rather simple. Move regularly, eat less than you burn off (unless you’re trying to gain muscle), and get plenty of sleep.
Until the basics are taken care of, everything else is superfluous.
So ask yourself…What would this [goal/task] look like if it were easy? How can I simplify the problem to find the most cogent and expedient solution?
3. “Where in your life might defining your fears be more important than defining your goals?”
Every guru worth their salt will instruct you, at some point or another, to define your goals. To “dream big” and “10X” your ambitions.
But in doing so, they forget a fundamental aspect of human nature. Our 200,000-year-old brains are infinitely more motivated by fear and pain than they are by pleasure. And, more often than not, the thing that holds us back from actually achieving our goals is not that they are poorly defined or misaligned with our deepest desires, but that we are afraid of what will happen when we take a risk to make them happen.
By defining our fears, by getting crystal clear on the answer to the question, “What’s the worst that can happen?”, we can assuage our monkey mind’s incessant catastrophizing.
When you take the time to clearly define your fears, to write down exactly what it is you’re worried about, how likely it is to happen, and what you can do to recover, you can beat fear at its own game and will realize, more often than not, that the worst-case scenario isn’t that bad (or that likely).
If you’re considering quitting your job to strike out on your own and become an entrepreneur, what’s the worst that can happen? You fail and the business doesn’t work. Ok but then what? You have to go back to the same job you’re in right now–no worse for the wear with more experience and connections–until you can save up enough money to try again.
Not exactly the “End of the world” scenario you mind would have you believe, is it?
4. “The 80-hour-per-week, 500 000$-per-year investment banker is less “powerful” than the employed New Rich who works 1/4 the hours for 40,000$, but has complete freedom of when, where, and how to live.”
In our society, we are quick to conflate material wealth with power.
But the uncomfortable truth that the hustlers and grinders of our economy are loathe to admit is that money is not power. Freedom is.
You can have all the money in the world, but if you don’t have the time and freedom to enjoy it, what do you really have? Glorified servitude that gives you the illusion of power.
In my own life, I’ve found that the times during which I was the happiest and most fulfilled were not the times where I made the most money. Sure, netting $40,000 in a single month is nice. But it’s been my experience that less money and more time leads to greater levels of happiness and fulfillment.
I challenge you to look at your life and ask yourself…”Am I really free?”
Is the income you make worth the sacrifice required? Do you have the ability to wake up and board a plane to another country on a whim? Can you decide to take time off for no other reason than that you want to? Can you defer your obligations to another day to enjoy a once in a lifetime experience with a close friend?
If the answer to these questions is “no”, it’s time to reassess your career and consider the implications of a life with less money and more freedom.
Despite what marketers and our consumerism driven society would have you believe, less is often the path to more freedom.
5. “The way that you become world-class is by asking good questions.”
One of the single most underrated skills is the ability to ask the right question.
In fact, this particular Tim Ferris quote has been reiterated by dozens, if not hundreds of other prolific creators and high-achievers. From Elon Musk who stated, “The tough thing is figuring out which questions to ask. But once you do that the rest is really easy.” To Tony Robbins who claimed, “The quality of your life will always be proportionate to the quality of the questions you ask yourself.”
We were never taught how to ask the right questions…how to think critically about our goals and strategies…how to challenge our assumptions in a meaningful way. But if you want to reach the upper echelons of success and fulfillment, you must master the skill of asking the right questions.
Take the common example of desiring something you cannot currently afford. Most people in this situation would simply state, “I cannot afford it”, but a smarter person would ask, “How can I afford it?”
Or, a slightly more advanced example, everyone asks themselves, “What do I want?” but few people are willing to ask the harder question, “What goals are so important to me that I’m willing to suffer for years or decades to achieve them?”
A well-lived life demands that you ask better questions. That you challenge your beliefs and adopt a new way of thinking.
Learn to ask better questions and the world will open up to you in ways you never expected.
6. “The most fulfilled and effective people I know – world-famous creatives, billionaires, thought leaders, and more – look at their life’s journey as perhaps 25 percent finding themselves and 75 percent creating themselves.”
There’s a common misconception in our society that, to achieve success, we must first “Find ourselves.” (whatever the hell that means). But in reality, when you examine the lives of the most prolific, effective, and fulfilled individuals in our species’ history, you will notice that few, if any of them, placed much importance on “finding themselves.”
They cared only about “creating” themselves.
The simple truth of the matter is our idea of the “self” does not really exist. Who you are on a moment to moment basis changes. And if you’re doing life the right way, the man you are in ten years will cringe at the man you are today.
So instead of trying to find yourself or your purpose or your passion. Create them. Decide who you want to be and then put in the effort to make it so.
Because when it’s all said and done, you can be anyone and anything you desire. But you must have the wherewithal and personal awareness to decide what and who you want to be and then manifest those desires into reality.
7. “Where can you trade money for time? Where can you spend money that creates more time tomorrow or next week? That is almost always a good investment.”
One of the biggest mistakes I see men making today is that they use their money to buy “things” instead of freedom.
Think about it like this…
If you have an extra $300 a month in discretionary income you could spend it on a new pair of shoes, a new car, or something else that will clutter your life and distract you from what’s really important.
Or, you could use that same $300 to buy back your time and freedom by paying others to do the things you hate.
At different points in my life, I’ve hired housekeepers, personal chefs, trainers, and a huge team of employees, buying back my time and freedom and allowing me to avoid doing things I hated.
What if you could do the same?
What if, instead of spending your money on depreciating assets you don’t need, you spent it on paying away your biggest annoyances and frustrations? Paying a kid in your neighborhood to cut your yard instead of wasting an hour a week doing it yourself. Hiring a chef or using a meal delivery service to send you meals instead of fretting about grocery shopping and cooking each day. Paying an assistant to do all of the menial administrative work you don’t need to do so you have time to focus on your area of genius.
The best investments always create more time, not more clutter. So invest wisely.
8. “In a world of distraction and multitasking, the ability to single-task — to genuinely do one thing without getting distracted by push notifications, alerts, email, text messages, social media, whatever it might be — is a superpower.”
We live in an era of distractions. Emails, social media notifications, direct messages, texts, phone calls, incessant ads. Every second of our lives we seem to be bombarded with an endless stream of requests and distractions that derail our focus and prevent us from creating great work.
And the superpower of the 21st century is the ability to silence the noise. To shut out all distractions and myopically focus on one task to completion.
This principle is simple. Turn off the distractions, make yourself unreachable, and single focus for 3-4 hours until the job is done.
But practically implementing it is much much harder.
To master the skill of single focus and deep work, I encourage you to pick up a copy of Deep Work and Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport where you’ll get actionable strategies and insights to help you master your focus and accomplish 10-20X more than your competitors.
9. “The more you schedule and practice discomfort deliberately, the less unplanned discomfort will throw off your life and control your life.”
Our lives are easier than they’ve ever been before. We live in climate-controlled boxes with an endless supply of gripping entertainment. Instead of spending days tracking animals, killing, cleaning, and preparing them for food, we can order any meal we want and have it delivered to our doorstep with the click of a button.
We no longer have to face true adversity or discomfort in our daily lives. Instead, we are faced with unprecedented ease and instant gratification.
And this is a big problem. Because, despite the relative ease of our daily lives, calamity will and does strike when we least expect it. Death, disease, tragedy, injury. None of us are immune to the suffering of life. But we can be prepared for it.
By intentionally and consistently exposing yourself to discomfort–fasting, cold exposure, austerity, frugality, exercise, extreme heat, etc–you can equip your mind and body to better handle the unexpected stressors of life.
The challenges you are facing in your career, marriage, or personal life will be put into perspective after a killer 10-mile run and sauna session.
Challenge yourself to embrace discomfort daily. To strive for a strenuous life, not an easy one. If you will do this, the parts of life that are actually hard will become infinitely easier to manage and contend with.
10. “It’s lonely at the top. Ninety-nine percent of people in the world are convinced they are incapable of achieving great things, so they aim for the mediocre. The level of competition is thus fiercest for ‘realistic’ goals, paradoxically making them the most time and energy-consuming.”
Paradoxically, extreme success is less competitive than relative success. Everyone and their stepbrother are trying to become an influencer, get a million followers on Instagram, and create a killer sales funnel.
But few attempt the truly remarkable. So many members of our society have been convinced (by themselves or others) that they are incapable of achieving greatness that, for the few who are willing to take up the mantle, the competition is all but nonexistent.
Realists are a dime a dozen. But individuals who are striving for the exceptional, who aren’t willing to settle for the status quo, are rare.
If you can level up your ambition, strive to be great, not just good, and 10X the size of your ambitions, you might be surprised to find that they are actually easier to achieve.
As Tim says in another quote, “The fishing is best where the fewest go and the collective insecurity of the world makes it easy for people to hit home runs while everyone else is aiming for base hits.”
11. “It is possible to become world-class, enter the top 5% of performers in the world, in almost any subject within 6-12 months, or even 6-12 weeks.”
Most people assume that to become exceptional at a given skill they must invest 8,000 to 10,000 hours to do it. But nothing could be further from the truth.
To become world-class, among the top 5% on the planet, rarely requires more than 12 months of sustained and consistent effort.
Admittedly, to achieve such a goal in such a short amount of time you’ll need to employ specific strategies, be ruthless in the management of your time, and focus on efficiency and growth over busyness, but it can be done.
In 12 months, you can become a masterful copywriter, guitarist, chef or damn near anything else you want to be.
But first, you must eliminate the idea that mastery requires decades. It doesn’t. You can compress success into a very short time frame when you understand the mechanics of learning, have a coach who has “been there, done that”, and are willing to stay consistent in the pursuit of excellence.
My challenge to you is simple. Pick one skill you’ve always wanted to learn (but haven’t) and commit to learning it this year. Give yourself a deadline, set parameters for success and failure, use resources like Tim’s 4-Hour Chef and Scott Young’s Ultralearning to uncover winning strategies and get after it.
If you’re strategic in your approach, you’ll be amazed by how quickly you’re able to achieve your goals.
Do you want my help?
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