The Weekend Retirement Test Drive: Groundhog Day and the Rest of Your Life (Plus: Competition)


Don’t be a groundhog [yes, I know this is a hedgehog, but I liked the shot]. (Photo: Anxious223)

There are a lot of rich and depressed groundhogs.

This is a critical concept, so let me introduce it with an e-mail I received from a reader and executive at a Fortune 500 company a few hours ago, edited for length:

So I was out snowshoeing this morning and found myself completely taken in this moment thinking I was like the Snow Queen from Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale and that I was walking through the Black Forest. And I was there, at least in my mind, which, really, is all that matters. …Here’s how this is relevant to you – the problem most people are going to have with your book is that these people don’t know how to dream. I think your book is like the 2nd in a series… unless you can find moments of the sublime in whatever present moment, and unless you can dream about creating the next one, what does it really matter how much time you free up from work?

Here’s how we make this e-mail hit home for you and get you $720 in the process:

1) On a scale of 1-10, 10 being best, how life-changing or personally fulfilling have the last two weekends been?

2) Is retirement from the 9-5, 50-weeks-per-year routine one of your current goals? (Yes/No)

3) How confident are you on a scale of 1-10, 10 being best, in your ability to fill 20-40 years of retirement, whether in one stretch or spread out as mini-retirements?

If your answer to 2 is affirmative, here are two worst-case scenarios…

-The answer for 3 is low.
-The answer for 3 is greater than your answer for 1.

In both cases, there will be a serious depression in your future if you create time abundance without the skill and practice needed to fill that void, not to mention regret for having followed the “deferred-life plan” of slave-save-retire (if you choose that versus lifestyle design and its present-tense options).

The next 48 hours of your life — or this weekend — is a microcosm of your potential retirement. How you spend this time is reflective of how you would fill time once you cash in your chips for the good life after 10-30 years of accumulating capital and assets.

Tomorrow is Groundhog Day here in the US, and I want you to make the next 48 hours the opposite of the repetitive rinse-repeat life I associate with the classic movie of the same name.

Here’s the challenge and competition.

Pretend like the next 48 hours are the first 48 hours of your emancipation — you’ve done it and now all of your time is free time.

Prove to us and yourself that you can fill the void with something worthwhile. This could be one of the most telling experiments of your life, so I encourage you to treat it as a required exercise.

If you can’t fill the time, there are questions you need to ask and skills you need to develop before focusing 100% on finances, investments, nest eggs, etc.

Put your real “filling the void” experiment results in the comments of this post. Proof of some type (links to photos, video, etc.) is ideal but not required.

The best comment posted no later than 5pm PST on Friday, Feb 8th will win 36 copies of The 4-Hour Workweek from the original limited 1st print run. It’s now in it’s 29th printing and 36 new copies are worth $720 at retail. These 1st-edition versions are collector’s items and worth more with signatures, which 12 will have :) First-edition original manuscripts have sold for upwards of $1,500 each on Ebay.


I’ll send you a collector’s edition talking action figure of Shaun from one of my favorite movies of all-time, Shaun of the Dead:

If this doesn’t motivate you to action, I don’t know what will.

Here are some links that might help:

E-mail Free Fridays and How to Save Your Weekend [Read the comments of this post and the one before it for ideas]
The Top 5 Reasons to Be a Jack of All Trades
How to Learn (But Not Master) Any Language in 1 Hour
A Beginner’s Guide: How to Rent Your Ideas to Fortune 500 Companies
Lack of Seriousness – The Last Interview with Vonnegut
The Magic of Groundhog Day

Good luck and remember — Subtracting work and the office doesn’t automatically create life. That’s the most neglected and important art of all.

Think big and do the uncommon.

Posted on: February 1, 2008.

Watch The Tim Ferriss Experiment, the new #1-rated TV show with "the world's best human guinea pig" (Newsweek), Tim Ferriss. It's Mythbusters meets Jackass. Shot and edited by the Emmy-award winning team behind Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations and Parts Unknown. Here's the trailer.

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155 comments on “The Weekend Retirement Test Drive: Groundhog Day and the Rest of Your Life (Plus: Competition)

  1. Tim,

    I’m a bit taken back by your wording here. I’ve found more value in your book for the ways that it’s made me reevaluate my goals and my processes which i use in my life than for any other reason. I’ve lent it out to several friends to read, all of whom have found it at least “interesting.”

    Now hoping to win a book for a potential signature and the value of that signature, seems very materialistic. I hope no one enters for that reason alone. The book is far too valuable.

    (Yes, this post did make me check my book and it is a First Edition, however I wouldn’t think of selling it.)


    Hi Matt,

    Thanks for the comment. By the wording, I assume you mean the ethical bribe part of the competition. Or the e-mail? In either case, I’m very happy that different people get different things from the book. For the competition, I’m just giving a little incentive to those who need the push, and it doesn’t hurt me to offer the books, so I figure: why not?

    I want people to take disruptive action, but there’s a lot competing for attention, so I throw a bit in the mix to make it more compelling. Most won’t do it for the books, but a few will, and once they test the concepts, they’ll find the rewards from that to be the main motivator.

    I just need to get their foot in the door.

    It’s all just a big experiment, so we’ll see how it pans out :) Have a great weekend…



  2. I would fly to Maui with my husband and daughter. I know – really not that exciting in the scheme of things. But, for us it’s an easy get-away if you make the time for it – short flight, great change from the dreary Seattle weather, no passports required and we like it there. I would show my 1 year old little girl what it feels like to dip her tiny toes into the warm, salty water and dig her chubby little feet into the sand. I would drink pina coladas in the sun with my husband and talk and by happy. I would snuggle and cuddle my little family and plan what to do next.


  3. wow…
    Tim, your book and your blog have made me re-examine my life in ways I’ve never done before.

    Now, I’m realizing that my dreams of a fulfilling retirement and going to be dashed if I can’t live through a fulfilling weekend – no matter how large my 401K.

    Thanks for the wakeup call.


  4. Hi Tim – Do you mean for us to do all these things this weekend, or can we use our imagination? Some of the things I would really like to do aren’t physically possible right now.

    Wow – I think I have a first edition too. Well, it’s a hardback and it says first edition but the numbers are only 10 and 9 – it doesn’t have the usual 10 numbers from 1 to 10. Does this count? If so, would you mind signing it with blood or something Tim? It would only take the small prick of a needle and I might get a whole heap more for it.


  5. Hey Tim,

    I have finished reading your book couple of weeks ago and thought to myself, I understand everything what this guy is talking about. Why? Because I have been living like him for the last 8 years. I have left the corporate 9-5 environment to enjoy life, and I have been. Focusing on my passions like travel and photography,blogging for fun, reading and learning whatever and wherever I want. I came back recently Buenos Aires, Argentina (my new favorite city in the world) and Uruguay. And already I have booked a trip to Barcelona, Spain for April. Later on this year I am looking forward to French Rivera and Monaco or may be Tokyo (I have not decided yet). I have visited to 117 cities in 21 countries over the years! I enjoy each and everyday of my free time now, I appreciate the fact that I am actually living my life to the fullest and stay in the moment. I keep a collection of photos from my travels over 8,000 by now on Flickr ( You are right about the fact that most people do not know what to do with themselves if they do not have “the job” to go to, because since they were kids at secondary school they were thought about living in a daily routine. Without it they are lost. They need to re-learn it how to let it all go, free themselves from it and be creative with what they are really interested in doing with their life. We all have a lot of potentials, passions and dreams, but it may take time for someone to break away from “Monday to Friday” life. It is possible, it is doable. I know because like you, I have done it and I could not imagine going back…


  6. How does watching the Superbowl, doing eight loads of laundry, and changing some poopie diapers sound? Pretty awesome right? Damn skippy. Go ahead and send those books to 324 Dreamsville Pike, Annandale, Va.


  7. Does it count that I have already lived my life for many years in that fulfilling way? I am not officially retired, but still self employed for the bit of money I still need to live. However, I got off the treadmill long ago by being more self-reliant, needing less money because I built my own home and made much of the furnishing. My home is tiny, but that is part of not being on the treadmill – no mortgage, manageable. I pursue so many interests that my problem is not how do I fill my day, but does the day have enough hours. There is plenty of proof on my website, which shows my lifestyle. I have believed for a long time that money is just an exchange token and a means to an end, and work is a way to get a number of those tokens to pay someone else to do what you can’t or won’t do for yourself. I feel fortunate that I need relatively few of those tokens.


  8. I quit my job. Today was my last day.

    I’m a game programmer and I’m going to spend the next 48 hours working on meaningful games that I truly believe in. I’m building a company where we hold ourselves to the highest standard in all of our conduct.

    I do yoga first thing every morning on the weekend. I’m also training for the Vancouver Half-Marathon in May.


  9. My whole life, I have loved stand-up comedy. I have tons of DVDs and CDs (Sam Kinison is my favorite) I have a bookshelf dedicated to comedy writing and stand-up how-to books, and I’ve read them all. I use to teach public speaking and I would use the opportunity to try out material. Of course, a room full of college freshman didn’t find my material very funny, especially at 9 A.M.

    I even did my master’s thesis on the use of humor in persuasion.

    I am now 38, and I’ve never got up at an open mic at a real comedy club and performed. I’ve been so wrapped up in pursuing the “American Dream” that I’ve never had time to do it. I’ve been telling myself that I have bigger fish to fry right now but someday, I’ll do it. Maybe when the kids are grown, or maybe when this happens or that happens.

    If I could retire right now, I would spend the first 48 hours beginning to pursue that dream. I would go to my local comedy club and bribe the owner to let me do a set.

    Then I would travel around the country in my Ford Focus and get as much stage time as I could. I would hang out with other comedians and listen to their stories of life on the road. I would stay in crappy hotels and eat nasty comedy club food. Man, what a blast!


  10. Very frickin’ interesting…you’ve got me wondering what I’ll do this weekend… I’m a RN and work a 12 hour on Sunday & my husband is working Saturday, so we’ll see… I’ve been trying to find ways to practically apply your book, as people remain critically sick on Mondays and Fridays and still “crash” at anytime…so I still need to be at work (working in cardiac ICU), altho this has got my husband & I thinking about what we really should be doing instead…pretty sure it will involve us quitting our jobs in the next year, but the whole dreaming thing is taken care of (the concern of the Fortune 500 man) — we’re as big as dreamers as I think we could get! (maybe some yoga for nurses?!) This year is time to put it to action…thanks more than words!


  11. Tomorrow I’m starting a marathon of DANCE classes. Ballet, Modern, Arabic Fusion, Belly dance, Hip Hop… Physical Expressionism with top choreographers… you name it. I’ve lived in the South for 4 years and have YET to watch Gone with the Wind. It’s about darn time. That’s on the list for this weekend too :)

    Call that mellow but it’s a HUGE change (a nice change) for me… in the past twenty days I’ve traveled to four countries for vacation, (got sick in Mexico), drove cross-country (thanks to snow in the SE), finished one headliner speaking gig, two teaching gigs, had a power-meeting in Vail, photographed the homeless, battered, and needy in Denver, and saw a world-premier play last weekend.

    Home sounds like the perfect Ground Hogs Day for me :) Perhaps I’m already in a mini-retirement. At least that what friends wonder when they ask “do you actually work?”

    Pictures of the past 20 days will be up shortly….


  12. Tim,

    I think about this all the time. Yeah, you’ve inspired this kid a bit. I’ve got my situation to where I’m only working a couple hours out of the day. As soon as I’m not tied to any one setting I’ve got an extensive plan laid out to accomplish my idea of a meaningful lifestyle design. Until then, I continue my weaning initiative. That time is very soon.

    I’m 26 and am inches from endless mini-retirements. I almost had a veritable “quarter-life” crisis thinking about what to do with my free time. I’m done thinking. I’ve already been on one mini-retirement. But the second is the kicker. I need one year to finish this project and another to dethrone your book from the top of the charts ;) Here it is…

    Objective: Do something that has never been done before and write an influential, best-selling book about it and produce an accompanying documentary.

    Task: Interview 5 high-ranking leaders, 15 manager-level leaders, and 50 members of the 16 most common world religions from Zoroastrianism, Shintoism, Hinduism, Muslim, Catholicism, etc (I haven’t included Scientology.. though I wouldn’t mind meeting Tom.. and some religions don’t have defined leadership or regions which will be tricky but I’ll figure it out). Then write about my findings and produce a film.

    Purpose: To set a foundation upon which a bridge of communication and understanding can be built between different religions. To find and write about SIMILARITIES (not been done to my knowledge) in thematic elements, doctrinal belief, liturgical practice, and everyday lives of leaders and members in each religion. To create unity where often times there is none. To help people find a reason to stop killing each other in the name of religion.

    Evidence: I’ve got extensive notes that I really don’t feel like transcribing even if it meant 700 bucks in free Tim books, but just in case you’re wondering, no it is not easy to get an appointment with the Pope, the Dalai Lama, or the LDS President. If anyone has any contacts, hit me up. I’ve got a film team in the wings waiting already..

    Next time consuming project: Do it again for Christian religions.

    Peace and love,



  13. Hmmm, if I retire… I honestly don’t see myself retiring at all. My life isn’t perfect but I already take about 12 weeks of vacation every year. Perhaps I’ll want more than that in the future, but who knows. I do have asset goals that are still my focus, but as time goes on I see myself spending more time helping others. I went on a humanitarian trip this year to East Africa that really opened my eyes so to speak to what I could be doing in the world. A lot more. But this is a great idea to think about before the weekend starts.


  14. We (my wife and I) have already done a few of such ‘test drives’.
    Some of the them lasted for a day, some for one week and some a little longer.
    Once, it was a one-day spring trip to the plant preserving facility in Bolestraszyce. On
    the other hand, there was a few days’ long truly amazing trip to Venice. And many others.
    Whether it was gazing at flowers blooming in the spring, or the moment of contemplating
    the view of St. Mark’s Square from San Giorgio Maggiore Island – it was something
    worth remembering and sharing with others.

    You can find some pieces of our memories on our website (url in the header of the comment).

    It was no problem at all to fill up the time with valuable, at least for us, activities. I think that will be no problem in the future, either. Especially if you are a travel (and not only) freak or, to put it simply, if you are open to the world that surrounds you, being constantly curious of what the next day will bring.

    This weekend is devoted to another set of experiments, the aim of which is to set us free from
    everyday, the-same-place work routine and allow to have “too much free time (and other resources, too) to spend” problem. I’m pretty confident that we can easily find a solution to this problem.

    Great blog btw. With lots of new enlightening ideas.

    Thank you for that.


  15. Thanks for the nudge! I started reading the book about two weeks ago so the limited spare time I have has been focused on small money generators. It always amuses me when people talk about having nothing to do. If you have a home, there’s always plenty of work that needs doing. Now if you have a sport, there’s preparing to participate (tie some flies, restring racket, read other’s ideas on the sport, …) and actually participating in the sport. When I was laid off last February, I was always busy. The gas price increases started limiting what I could do so I fell back into the old rut of a W4W, this time at a grocery store. A muse seems to be evading me but attempting an eBusiness to generate $200 a week seems possible with your hints from the book. I don’t know how exciting pictures of me filling in LLC forms will be tho…


  16. Tim,

    I’m in a very opposite situation to most of the people who are getting acquainted with your book. I just finished a 16 month trip around the world visiting 24 countries, and this is my first week back at work. I guess you could say I’m coming out of mini-retirement.

    I found that for the first four months, seeing all these wonderful places was enough to keep me going although I had to pace myself to prevent burnout. After that, it was activities like scuba diving and salsa dancing (I’m still learning both) that filled my time.

    How do you personally schedule short-term events that are life-changing and personally fulfilling? I personally like to jump into something and commit to a very intensive trial, but this strategy fails for short time spans like a weekend or even an afternoon.

    Maybe you’ve already written an article on this topic or will in the near future?


  17. Tim,

    This is an easy one for me as I’m already moving towards it as a result of reading 4HWW. I’m taking my current company that does sales and marketing training and moving everything online and completely automating it. At the same time, I’m building another website that is a fundraiser for 6-7 million homeless animals in the US (I’ll tackle the world next). So, while I’m working now in big spurts to build both of these things, I also take off weekends for mini-retirements. I add in a few two-week trips now, with month-long ones coming soon.

    My 48-hour plan is quite simple (I already have everything but the exact dates and the plane tickets). After getting off the plane in Johannesburg, I hop on a bus to my hotel. After checking in, I take a two-hour stroll around the neighborhood, soaking in the sites and smells of my first trip to Africa. My friend, Derick, who is from Zimbabwe, has hooked me up with a local friend who has helped me choose some places to visit.

    The next morning I take a car down to Cape Elizabeth to meet up with a lovely woman I met online. I get a grand tour of CapeTown and crash on her couch for a few days.

    A few days later I head to the Zulu Nyala camp where I’m booked for a 7-day safari (I bought the trip in a charity auction this year). We rise each morning for a sunrise jeep trip into the bush to see rhino, elephants, lions, giraffe, hippo, etc. It’s the SA winter so the views are great. During the day we lounge around the compound and fight off the monkeys. I get a chance to meet my other campers from around the world and share travel stories. In the evening, we head out for another photo shoot, then dinner around the fire.

    After leaving the camp, I’ve got two more weeks of travel around southern Africa planned including of course a stop at Victoria Falls, but also an amazing swamp Derick has told me about. I’ll couch surf most of the time as I don’t really like swank hotels. A few of my friends have joined me for part of the trip so we all have a great time together. One of my favorite parts of travel is going someplace long enough for others (my poor wage slave friends) to come visit. I’m always hoping I’ll spark some interest for them.

    That’s a bit more than 48-hours but hopefully it’s a glimpse of what my retirement looks like. Lots of travel to places that stretch me. I want to see places that my animal rescue site can benefit and the best way is to get there in person.

    Also, look for me on the Ellen Degeneres show. She’s going to love our non-profit and I’m not afraid to contact her, especially since reading your helpful tips.

    Thanks, Tim, for writing a book that should shake us all out of our complacency. I advise each of my clients (about 2000/year) to read it since I started living it last year. Rock on, brother, and keep sending the good ideas.


    PS: If I win the books, I’m putting them in our online auction of celebrity items to raise money for our non-profit. Thought you’d want full disclosure.


  18. Hey Tim,

    My weekend started earlier this week. Here’s a rundown, in chronological order, through this Sunday.

    Wednesday – Filed provisional patent after finishing Inventright (thanks for the pointer)

    Thursday – Negotiated new position at new company, totally work from home, more vacation and total flexibility with my kids schools schedule. And it will pay much more.

    Friday – Notified my company that I will take their Voluntary Separation Package.

    Saturday – start with son’s karate class then spend a few hours a BJJ on my own, followed by family time and a local fundraiser

    Sunday – Sleep late (as late as the kids will let us) visit summer camps, brunch with inlaws and then Superbowl with friends (and a lot of kids)

    That’s it and I would “Ground Hog’s Day” it anytime. I really took your comment the other day to hear, about the measure of happiness is equivalent to the time spent have dinner with friends and family. It’s a great formula and one we have been trying to exercise as much as possible.

    Thanks Tim.



  19. Wow. Shaun is *awesome*. But I’d rather have the book :)

    I’ve got an interesting story (you can read the long version on my site, if you like). Was born with a genetic disability causing much pain; worked off and on then had to stop. I spent a couple years practically living from my bed (and watching Shaun with my daughter, who adores that movie!). A year and a half ago, God healed me… completely, totally removed this genetic condition from my body (my doctor nearly fainted when she saw me!)

    I’ve spent the last year and a half struggling with issues of time management and identity. I think I’ve got the identity issues solved by now… but really I’m having to learn from the ground up how to prioritize and manage time and life. My husband and I are new pastors, and pastors have demands coming at them ALL the time. Your site has been very helpful, and I hope to read your book VERY soon!


  20. Tim… always intriguing posts. And I know what you would say to me about what I am about to say.

    I am busy building a business to help me get out of my 9-5 prison. I tend to be like you when you started with BrainQuicken… always working.

    That has to be the hardest part when you are starting because my weekends tend to be spent learning ways to increase internet traffic… getting my readers to participate in discussions, etc…

    Well maybe more fun will free up the brain cells for creative ideas!

    That Audi by the way is kick ass!