How to Earn Your Freedom…And A Motorcycle Ride Across China?

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This post shares two short essays that have had a profound impact on my life.

They explore “lifestyle,” world travel, practical philosophies, and much more.

Disclaimer: These might make you quit your job… even if you’re the boss. I’m not kidding, as I’ve seen it happen. If it comes to pass, you’ll thank me later.

To see the movies I rave about in this episode, click here.

For the two free protein bars I mention, click here.

Here’s the audio. I hope you enjoy it. Stream below, or you can right-click here to save as an MP3.

#70: How to Earn Your Freedom

For more from the amazing Rolf Potts, don’t miss our two-hour conversation about everything imaginable. It’s easily one of my favorite podcasts I’ve done. Click here to listen.



The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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64 Replies to “How to Earn Your Freedom…And A Motorcycle Ride Across China?”

  1. Thank you Tim! Already living in Tamarindo, Costa Rica for 6 months thanks to your inspiration from the book and in person at Marcelo’s gym in NYC. If you are ever in the area I would love to buy you a meal!

  2. Hi Tim,

    Have you considered making transcripts for these? Perhaps after the fact if you want to initially encourage podcast listenership.

    I’m a huge fan, have read most of your stuff. And I hate, hate, hate listening to audio/video, because I can read the same thing 5-6 times faster.

    I’ve listened to a few podcasts, and liked them, but overall I’ve just sort of checked out because I don’t do audio. This is abnormal for the internet overall, but I bet a sizeable chunk of your audience 1. really likes you and 2. also hates audio. Preferring reading is very common in the tech niche.

    If you made transcripts I would probably read every single podcast, and also listen to the ones that seemed particularly interesting. And share them of course.


    p.s. Not sure if I ever thanked you anywhere else, but thank you for the 4HWW. Changed my life, literally. I dropped out of law school and ended up making an online LSAT prep business. I help make it cheaper for others to study for the LSAT and apply to law school.

    Following the 4HWW, I set things up so everything I do is remote and largely non-time sensitive. I can sleep in when I feel like it, check out for a week if I want, travel etc. I went to Brazil for five weeks in Nov/Dec to learn portuguese. And on the flip side, when I feel like it I can instead spend 60 hours a week working to create a new product I’m proud of and that will earn me the recurring money I need to continue my adventures.

    Thank you so very, very much.

    1. Wow, that’s fantastic, Graeme! Congratulations on all your success. That’s really inspirational :).

      1. Graeme I can’t agree that everyone preferring reading. Someone sitting at work and can not browse web pages so he can use headphones to listen to the recordings.

        The very best way is to public audio, transcripts and video with subtitles. Why video with subtitles? It’s easiest way to understand for someone non-speaking english very well just like me.

        But make all of them is lot of work. So I dont grumble. Just be thankfull for each useful and motivation information.

    2. Fully agreed – was about to comment the same thing when I saw this. Very frustrating to be forced to listen to a podcast – the pace of material is far too slow to be a good use of time

      1. If you’re comment is in response to the suggestion to offer a transcript I would offer the following: A suggestion or request doesn’t always equal a complaint. I don’t believe it’s that people are inherently dissatisfied- they are just sharing with Tim another way of offering the information that would be useful to them. A few weeks ago Tim did a transcript and I loved it and shared with him how much it was appreciated. Many lifestyles, my own included, lend themselves better to reading than listening. Does Tim have to oblige us? No. Does it hurt to let him know some of his followers would like the information that way? No. Does that mean we appreciate his efforts less. No. Hope this helps us understand each other better. Have a great day!

      2. I know, right? How dare people have different needs, tastes, preferences. Why can’t everyone just take what they’re given and be happy about it? The nerve… /eyeroll

        Folks are just offering some constructive feedback. I’m sure Tim appreciates hearing from his audience what works for them and what doesn’t. The fact is he won’t know there’s a percentage of people he’s not reaching due to the audio-only format unless they speak up. Nobody is whining or complaining about it. Nobody is saying they feel entitled to non-audio options. But they *are* letting him know there’s an audience out here craving transcripts if he’s interested in pursuing it.

        +1 for transcripts

      3. Just to jump in here.

        I definitely appreciate everyone playing nice. I like feedback and suggestions. I can’t implement all suggestions, but they are appreciated.

        Transcripts are very time-consuming to do right, and crappy transcripts make me angry, so I’ve opted not to include. Many of the top podcasts don’t even include show notes and related links, keep in mind. I just have to keep this fun and lightweight for me, so there are sadly trade-offs.

        Hope to have transcripts sometime soon, but it’s currently too much of a headache. I’ll keep mulling on options.

        If people have suggestions for good transcription companies (NOT your own), I’m all ears! So far, they are mediocre at best, and the editing takes just as much time as doing it ourselves.

        Thank you for all the comments,


      4. Can’t reply to Tim’s comment below, so I’m replying here. I wasn’t complaining that Tim *should* do XYZ; I was just describing my use case so Tim can adapt, if he wants to.

        Tim, very reasonable point below about transcript quality + complexity of the project. No sense getting X% more reach if it makes the whole thing complex enough that it’s no longer fun.

        I thought back to two podcasts I’ve read transcripts of that were good. You may already know these companies.

        This is Patrick Mckenzie’s podcast:

        He uses Casting words. However, he says “I always use them for transcription and then make a hand-pass to make things flow a bit better and format for the Internet.”. The requirement to do a hand pass likely makes it not worthwhile.

        Secondly, I’ve enjoyed Mixergy’s transcripts. I googled and found they were done by this company:

        Hope that’s of use. And I’ve really enjoyed the podcasts I’ve listened to; I listen when there’s someone I’m very interested to hear. I now have a lifttime countdown clock on Chrome thanks to Kevin Kelly.

      5. Hey Tim,

        Great podcasts, especially loved the one with Arnold.

        I’ve been using Speechpad and it’s been a lifesaver. They’ll miss a word here or there (a lot of the time it’s a similar sounding word that makes no sense in context but your brain will likely skip over it), but overall very high quality and easy to use. You just upload the file and they get to work right away. It’s $1/minute for one week turnaround, but they do rush jobs as well. I use it all the time on Make More Marbles. I give them specific instructions on structure and headlining so it comes out more like a blog post and less like a blob of text. Worth a look.



  3. Thanks for sharing Rolf’s essays on this subject. Exploring the world with my family is something that really calls to me as a curious man and a father.

    The passage that really resonated with me was about how vagabonding forces you to get right with yourself before you can achieve it. That you can make good on your financial and emotional debts so you can discover yourself through travel, rather than escape yourself. (Paraphrasing).

    One regret I have about my youth was not learning earlier the weight of making commitments. Over promising leaves one heavy with financial and emotional burdens that make it very difficult to experience such a life. That said… To hear testimonials that encourage people like me that simply making the choice to travel, and beginning to make choices that move me toward it, already put me on the path, is wholly up lifting. Thank you, Tim.

  4. Hi Tim,

    Thanks for another great podcast, a timely reminder of why I chose to quit my job and travel the world on a bicycle. The link to Vimeo on demand only displays two of the four movies you recommend: ‘World of Tomorrow’ and ‘Waking Up’, Which I look forward to watching, however, I’m still left hanging for the mystery film!!!!! Please do share..

    Many thanks,


  5. Hey Tim, really enjoy these between-isodes and thanks for sharing those movies! I’m a huge science fiction fan so I watched World of Tomorrow straight away. It’s refreshing to see a movie so completely different. Perfect timing too – a few minutes to spare on a contemplative saturday afternoon with my daughter asleep… happy days 🙂

  6. Awesome episode as always Tim, I’ve always wanted to make you this question, if you were 20 years old guy living on a third world with all the knowledge you have now, what would you be the first thing you’ll do and why?

  7. the 4HWW and his vagabonding clips on his youtube channel caused me to quit my job 6 months ago and I have been living in Chiang Mai since then (which i discovered was the coolest and cheapest place for digital nomads) and finally selling a product online.. But aside from that, has been the best and funnest 6 months of my life….. Tim u da man x 1000000.

  8. I loved this show! I’m planning on turning myself on a nomad entrepreneur, and the 1st stop will be Bali or the Phillipines. Thaks for the inspiration 🙂

  9. Excellent. Read Vagabonding and the 4HWW and it’s become central to the way I percieve and go about things. Earning your freedom is as difficult as breaking from the common thinking and can, in my case take a couple of years. I dumped the biz in Southampton NY, moved to TX where it never snows and plan on spending a couple of months in Europe this summer/fall. Took two years from beginning to now.

  10. The 4HWW was what got me motivated initially to start looking for the freedom to live my life the way I want and it also showed me what’s even possible. It has been quite some time since I’ve read it but now it seems I’m finally getting closer to achieving freedom.

    On another note, have you read Eckhart Tolle’s books Tim? You should check out The Power of Now if you haven’t yet, especially since you’ve been talking about mindfulness and stuff. I’ve finally read it a while ago and it has really changed the way I see everything. We are the ones who create the suffering and pain for ourselves and being present is the key to everything.

    Anyways, just found it interesting since I haven’t heard you mention him yet.


    1. Tolle is interesting. But a lot of his stuff is just rehashed Buddhist philosophy. He can make for a good introduction to the subject, much like reconstituted deli meat might be a good introduction to turkey. If you want to explore a little more, I’d recommend the book Compass of Zen by Seung Sahn. You’ll see what I mean about Tolle. He’s not a bad writer or a fraud or anything, but he doesn’t really bring any original ideas (other than the vague new age metaphysical type of thing – vibrations etc. – which sometimes is misrepresented as literal rather than metaphorical). Reading Tolle is better than nothing, but (imo) he is still just another ‘guru’ primarily trying to sell books/seminars/etc.

      1. Interesting. You make it sound like you need anything else than what he teaches. Can you give me an example of what else there is that could be useful that he left out?

        The good thing about Tolle’s work is that he simplified everything and left out all the spiritual voodoo stuff. I never bothered with any spiritual stuff anyway and Tolle’s stuff is pretty much all practical.

        Have you read his stuff? He mentions all kinds of religions and philosophies but only the stuff that relates to what he talks about. There is no philosophy in his books, his stuff is not something you have to believe in. Again it’s all practical stuff and to me so far most of what I’ve heard from him makes very much sense, and I’m a rational guy.

  11. One of my all time favorites is called “A map for Saturday.” It’s a documentary shot by a guy who quits his very good job and does an around the world trip for a year.

    For books, I’ve given 3 people a copy of the dip and all of them quit their jobs as well.

    1. Thanks for the suggested media. How has your life changed? What projects or areas have you subsequently focused on?

  12. Thanks for this, Tim. Just a minor correction. The movie you mention is World of Tomorrow. Not Tomorrowland, which is the upcoming Brad Bird film. Cheers!

  13. This is a very informative and Useful post and help me out to get all valuable information regarding this topic. Great work

  14. The vimeo link only shows 2 movies (World of Tomorrow and Waking Up). I’m actually very curious about the fourth movie, the one you said made you quit your job and travel.

  15. Hi Tim,

    I love your blog, books and view on life. You rock!

    I know you’re very busy, but I would appreciate your answer to one tiny question (ok, it’s not really that tiny..).

    In one sentence, what do you believe to be the purpose of life?

    I’m contacting people that have had a big impact on my life (that’s you!) with the intent of putting together an article.

    Thanks in advance!


    1. In my humble opinion, the purpose of living is to learn to love ourself. This in turn leaves loving everyone and everything around us. Happiness is the twin of love.

  16. I just wanted to say thank you for posting this. I’m already in the process of earning my freedom – after 12+ years of corporate work I am wrapping up my life in SF and have been notworking (sorta consulting here and there but definitely not in an office/behind a desk) for the last 4 months. And traveling in short bursts. I’m moving on literally and figuratively and intend to spend the next couple of years learning and being an entrepreneur in a different sense. This post could *not* have come on a better day – wrapping up your life is HARD. And brings up all kinds of emotions. This is a great reminder about why I want to do this. So, thanks.

  17. Hey Tim,

    Just jumped over to Vimeo using your link but I’m only seeing 2 movies listed.

    – World of Tomorrow

    – Waking Up

    I’ve found The Art of Killing over at Amazon but what was the 4th movie that you didn’t name but was supposed to be listed on Vimeo?

    Really appreciate the recommendations!

    Go well,


  18. Hahah, yeah, I already quit my Day Job, so no danger here. I am on a Quest to visit every country in the world and travel 10,000,000 miles in the process. As Tim once said: “It’s difficult to be motivated by mediocre goals”. Off to Japan soon to travel all over the place in a rented micro camper van and document my journey, then off to drive Route 66 (twice). Another of Tims phrases I like to quote “Someday is a disease that will take your dreams to your grave” — won’t apply to me.

  19. Totally loving your podcasts; thanks for making them available! Have to agree that the Rolf Potts one is easily one of the best.

  20. Hi Tim,

    Great episode. I’m really looking forward to watching these movies. I was also thinking of purchasing a sampler pack on Exo and was wondering if there was a way to support the show through my purchase? I live in Canada so unfortunately the two free bar offer doesn’t apply to me. Would still like to show support for the show though.

    Keep up the inspirational work!


  21. Quick question. My son is turning 19 and his birthday is in a few weeks. Do you have any advice for a meaningful gift besides the usual? I am getting him a book on Seneca if you have a specific recommendation (studies philosophy) and he will be traveling to Europe for his honors curriculum at University. Thanks! I love the periscope but curious how you maintain ketosis with lentils!?

  22. Hey,

    I work with hearing impaired students and would love to share some of your podcasts with them, so I echo the question of “are there any transcripts of your podcasts” and if not, would you consider created them?

    thanks, love the books, keep doing great things and motivating others,


  23. Tim,

    WTF man, what’s the deal with Tim Ferriss Experiment? It’s been over a year since your post announcing all 13 episodes airing simultaneously in May 2014.

    Will we ever get to see the rest of the episodes?

  24. Hello Tim , this is my first time posting a comment but I do consume a lot of your material ever since I read the 4HWW . All of these information is so inspirational and I feel so lucky that I founf it. Thanks for the great work and ideas.

  25. Hi Tim,

    Can you please write a book “the four hour parent”.

    I have touched the iceberg with various tricks which mean I have more fun time with baby/kids. For example instead of a cumbersome “baby bag” I use a trekking utility belt armed with bottles, nappies etc. which makes it easier to do stuff and have quality time with baby.

    I reckon a book from you would cuddle the iceberg and enrich the experience and become the gift that keeps on giving. It’s a growing market – literally! Please write and make a lot of people 😃


    Wiggles, Australia

  26. You had me hooked at the title. A motorcycle ride across China? I can’t even imagine what that must be like, it’s on the top spot of my places I absolutely must see. Hoping to make it happen this year, but if anything, you certainly inspire as always… it may happen sooner than I think!

  27. Thank you for everything you share from Dr. Diamandis to Pavel T….s to Amanda Palmer. You sharing continues to lift me beyond where I was pre-podcast with new awareness and action to be shared with my son. Appreciate everything you share!

  28. Tim,

    The inspiration to travel after watching Maiden Trip is too powerful to ignore. My father, girlfriend and myself will be setting off to hike the Appalachian Trail (2,180 miles of the eastern US) this summer starting on May 2nd and continuing through the end of September. You should consider quitting and taking a hike. Its a great journey and if you should find yourself out there and could use any advice let me know.



  29. Is there any plans to make EXO into a powder? I’m not sure if this is the appropriate place to leave the question.

  30. I am hard of hearing and I am lucky that I can for the most part hear the podcasts. I can see both sides of the equation for Tim here. Podcasts do a better job of capturing the emotion, excitement, and feelings of the moment. Transcripts convey the information but don’t really give you any impact. Sort of like reading a script doesn’t really bring it to life. Closed captioning and subtitles work because the action is happening behind it. I personally use it because I don’t like missing everything and you pick up stuff in the background that is often hilarious.

    That being said, I went to Rochester Institute of Technology where there are about 1200 deaf people at any given time on a campus of 15,000 students. All efforts to make everything inclusive for all the deaf and hard of hearing students were made including note taking for most classes (uploaded online), sign language interpreters upon request, real time captioning for events, and C-Print. C-Print was RIT’s choice for transcribing lectures where powerpoint wasn’t being used a tool for teaching. Both loved and hated C-Print because it helped me pick up stuff I missed but I couldn’t look at equations or pictures the professor was referencing. But this took the dedicated resources of a transcriber for however long the class was.

    All that being said, I still believe that if Tim were able to find a good way to transcribe entire podcasts and manage cost, time, and resources effectively (4 Hour Work Week!) it would be incredible. I believe podcast transcrption would certainly be an added benefit to the blog as it opens a new audience (readers, deaf people, grey hairs) and accentuates the blog . A transcribed podcast would certainly be something I would pay for since I’m saving time and can focus on absorbing the information. I’d like to see this personally because I focus my energy on trying to pay attention to whats being said in the podcast rather than processing what is being said (Alot of deaf people rely on ASL interpreters to understand what is going on. Note taking allowed the students to pay attention to the interpreters without having to worry about missing the lecture notes).

  31. I recently made the leap from a leader in a fortune 50 compamy (comcast) to begin a new path. A path that allows me to focus on me amd what i choose. Terrifying and elated!

  32. Love the Podcasts… I listen to these everyday on my 35 minute walk to work and back. I can’t read while walking, so I definitely appreciate the audio version… keep on keepin’ on! Great stuff.

  33. Brilliant podcast as always, Tim. This one in particular is *just* the kick-in-the-pants I needed to get my life and dreams back on track, instead of wallowing in self-absorption and aimless “is *this* what I want to do with my life?” prevarications. I think hubster and I will be having (another) heart-to-heart tonight…

    1. Hi Gaston,

      It appears that some videos don’t appear for non-US visitors. I”ll chat with Vimeo.



  34. so i just watched WORLD OF TOMORROW and I have no idea what I just watched. I’m sorry for my inept ability to comprehend. I’ll watch it again, but can you recommend a blog post or review of it? thanks tim.

  35. Hi Tim,

    I just emailed you an unofficial 11 page formatted text transcript of one of your recent podcasts on Vagabonding to the address you and I most recently corresponded (2012). Perhaps someone on your team can let me know if you didn’t receive it.

    This value-add was in reference to your 4/15 comment about so far only having experience with mediocre transcription companies for turning audio into written content (a common request of your podcast listeners). The gift is from my friend and provider for this service Janette from Success Transcripts, whom I asked if she’d provide the service for free as a chance to earn your business. Janette is wonderful at what she and her team do, with many IM, speaker and author clients that rely on her 10-year old company for high-quality transcription services within short time frames and at a reasonable cost (including some with whom we’ve both shared the stage).

    Danny Welsh

  36. A debt of gratitude is in order for another extraordinary podcast, an auspicious indication of why I quit my employment and venture to the far corners of the planet on a bike. The connection to Vimeo on interest just shows two of the four motion pictures you prescribe: ‘Universe of Tomorrow’ and ‘Awakening’, Which I anticipate watching, notwithstanding, despite everything i’m left hanging for the secret film!!!!! Kindly do share..