About a decade ago I read The 4-Hour Work Week and it transformed how I think about my career.
To give you more context, The 4-Hour Work Week is a book about entrepreneurship that introduced the concept of Lifestyle Design: strategies to create more freedom, wealth, and time to do the things you love.
The book is focused on designing a life as an entrepreneur, so most people think the book only applies if you work for yourself.
However, I decided to use the same principles to design a corporate career that empowers my life, and not the other way around.
Today, I want to share with you those principles so you can have a career by design, and not by default.
Career Design principles
Here are the 8 principles I adapted from Tim Ferris's book:
1. Define Your Goals:
Instead of just focusing on the next career move, define your ideal career and life. Identify what you truly want to achieve and experience.
Guiding question: what would my ideal day look like?
2. Eliminate Time-Wasting Activities:
The book introduces the concept of "batching" tasks and advises readers to identify and eliminate nonessential activities that consume time without significant results. You can use the same framework to remove unnecessary meetings, schedule deep work blocks, focus on meaningful outcomes, and work at peak performance.
3. Delegate and Outsource:
Tim Ferris emphasizes the value of outsourcing, delegating or automating tasks to save time and be more efficient. You may not be able to get a personal assistant at your corporate job but you can use freelance platforms for small tasks, use tools like Zapier to automate simple tasks, or leverage resources inside your organizations to delegate and free up time for more impactful responsibilities.
4. Emphasize Results-Oriented Work:
The book encourages individuals to focus on outcomes, not outputs (speaking my language). Start adopting a results-oriented mindset to prioritize tasks that contribute directly to the bottom line of the business and your career goals, and measure success based on achieved results (not hours spent). This is also the secret to getting promoted fast and often. Focusing on outcomes, not outputs.
5. Pursue Continuous Learning:
The 4-Hour Workweek promotes lifelong learning and personal development to stay relevant in a rapidly changing world. The same approach applies to your corporate job. If you want to stay at the top of your game you need to learn new skills, leverage online resources, and seek mentors to expand your knowledge. I can't emphasize this enough. If you are not learning and growing, you are moving backwards. That's why the career growth routine I teach includes 30 minutes of learning every week, and I have a full chapter in my book dedicated to learning.
6. Cultivate Strategic Relationships:
The book highlights the value of building a strong network and engaging with like-minded individuals who can provide guidance and support. The same rules apply in the corporate world. Developing these relationships inside and outside of your organization is how you’ll continue to create opportunities for growth. It's important to note you need to build those relationships BEFORE you actually need them.
7. Seek Growth Opportunities:
Instead of waiting for your manager to give you a chance, step out of your comfort zone and explore new projects, take calculated risks, and seek experiences that challenge you. Actively look for work that allows you to grow and improve instead of waiting for someone to give it to you. That’s how you create your own luck.
8. Create Work-Life Integration:
I don't believe in work life balance. The word balance implies you can have one or the other and that means your life and your career are separate things. That's not what we are looking for. Most people separate their work and their life, but there is a sweet spot where your career aligns with aspirations, motivates you and provides the kind of lifestyle you want to live. That's when you have work life integration - they feed and support one another and create a life that is fulfilling professionally and personally.
You Deserve a Career by Design
Most people have a career by default.
They get a job, any job, do what they must to survive and live for the weekend. That's my nightmare, but that's how the majority of the world lives.
That doesn't have to be you. There is an alternative.
You don't have to settle for the default like everyone else, you can be intentional and design the career you want.
I believe in you and I’m rooting for you.