Four Thousand Weeks (Time and How to Use It) by Oliver Burkeman: Life’s fortuitous encounters

The real problem isn’t planning, It’s that we take our plans to be something they aren’t. What we forget, or can’t bear to confront is that, in the words of the American meditation teacher Joseph Goldstein – ‘a plan is just a thought.’

We treat our plans as though they are a lasso, thrown from the present around the future, in order to bring it under our command.


But all a plan is – all it could ever possibly be – is a present-moment statement of intent. It’s a expression of your current thoughts about how you’d ideally like to deploy your modest influence over the future.

The future, of course, is under no obligation to comply.

Four Thousand Weeks by Oliver Burkeman

The book was the lone copy in the bookstore and the sapphire blue stood out, emitting a radioactive glow. It was too enticing to resist and the sale was made.

The book could not be devoured in a single setting; the message was too profound and you need to stop and come up for air at times. And so it stuck close during a few trips to Goa. The book is easy to read, it’s just that the author points to directions contrary to the popular norm and you need time to digest.

The author is focusing on the fact that time is limited for every creature on earth and man, the lone exception is out on a mission to make the most of this scarce resource; in the process feeling overwhelmed and anxious instead of acknowledging and learning to flow with the uncertainty.

Learning to flow with the uncertainty is a concept that keeps popping up every now and then – it was there in the book Don’t Believe Everything You Think by Joseph Nguyen 👉Don’t Believe Everything You Think by Joseph Nguyen: More room for miracles ✨📖. We feel better when we are in control, when we know the next step and how things are going to play out; how our time is being accounted and that we are maximising on the precious resource that is simply otherwise ticking away.

“Do you want to know what my secret is?” Jiddu Krishnamurti, the spiritual teacher paused, leaned forward and said almost conspiratorially.

“You see, I don’t mind what happens.”


A life spent ‘not minding what happens’ is one lived without the inner demand to know that the future will conform to your desires for it – and thus without having to be constantly on edge as you wait to discover whether or not things will unfold as expected.

Four Thousand Weeks by Oliver Burkeman

But seriously, can we really afford to give in to uncertainty; we are being paid to predict the future, to control the outcome in every field. And more better we do that, more is the reward. Like I said, the you need to come up for air several times.

But as the author points out, in spite of all this manic preparedness to control the end result..

…most of us would probably concede that we got to wherever we are in our lives without exerting much control over it at all. Whatever you value most about your life can always be traced back to some jumble of chance occurrences you wouldn’t possibly have planned for.”

Four Thousand Weeks by Oliver Burkeman

But the author does reiterate the fact that planning is indispensable in order to lead a purposeful life; the famous Jim Rohn quote comes to mind “Either you run the day or the day runs you…”. But also set yourself to the expectation that future can be unpredictable and have the mindset to follow the fortuitous encounters.

Moving on from the making plans to our ‘to do’ lists, the author has even more fascinating insights.

How normal it has become to feel as though you absolutely must do more that you can do.


The only route to psychological freedom is to let go of the limit- denying fantasy of getting it all done and instead focus on doing a few things that count.

Four Thousand Weeks by Oliver Burkeman

From to do lists author moves to ‘Seductive lure of convenience’; I started ordering in lunch at office, instead of preparing and packing food from home🍱. So much more convenient but way unhealthier. Then it did strike me, having food delivered at the click of a button is a tempting and a habit forming convenience and I had to break free if I wanted to remain healthy in the long run.

Convenience culture seduces us into imagining that we might find room for everything important by eliminating only life’s tedious tasks.


But it’s a lie. You have to choose a few things, sacrifice everything else and deal with the inevitable sense of loss that results.

Four Thousand Weeks by Oliver Burkeman

I will leave you with these select thoughts, a very good book to read. If it pricks you and wakes you up from an autopilot life, even better !

Till next post, take care !!


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