When I graduated from high school I received a scholarship from my town’s Rotary Club for my academic and extracurricular achievements. The club would occasionally invite me back to their meetings over the summer so I could speak to a group of 50-something moderate Republicans about my exciting college schedule and bright future. I recall that the Rotarians would end each meeting by reciting their “Four-Way Test,” a set of questions that determined whether an agenda item fell within the organization’s code of conduct:
- Is it the truth?
- Is it fair to all concerned?
- Will it build goodwill and better friendships?
- Will it be beneficial to all concerned?
As you seek to navigate a world designed to sabotage you emotionally, sexually, and physically, it is absolutely essential to develop guidelines about your willingness to allocate your resources, chiefly time and money. Are you going to get fat eating takeout food and watching hours of TV every night? Will you accommodate the unyielding assault on your time from a feminist American woman, as she reduces your manhood piecemeal and advances you further down the rabbit hole of an unhappy modern relationship? Or will you resist the crab-in-a-bucket pressure of the masses and withstand labels of “weird” and “selfish” as you embark on a path of constant self-improvement?
To avoid living an average existence devoid of principle, you must visualize the person you want to become and then develop a line of inquiry that will keep you on that path. This is the four-way test that I apply when determining how to use my precious free time and money, and a few pursuits they apply to:
- Will it help me improve at an useful and/or marketable skill? Some examples are computer programming, practicing a musical instrument, writing, developing a business idea, working on a side hustle
- Does it make me healthier or stronger? This applies to lifting heavy, juicing, learning a martial art, food shopping, and cooking my own meals.
- Does it improve my knowledge about the world or myself? This covers activities such as reading books, following selected blogs and articles online, traveling, and spending time with insightful and supportive friends
- Will it help me get laid? This includes devoting resources to either day or night game, investing effort in approaches, going out when not in the mood, traveling, and studying humor.
What about leisure time? Everybody needs to waste time and have non-productive fun occasionally, but the question to apply to this area is: “Is it a leisure activity that produces pleasure in a high ratio to time/money spent?” If something doesn’t fulfill one of these four (and a half) criteria, I simply refuse to do it. These are examples of “normal” activities that fail my four-way test:
- Watching the vast majority of television shows
- Going out to happy hours and drinking with coworkers you don’t like or respect
- Spending time with girls you are not fucking
- Going out to eat more than occasionally
- Devoting entire weekends to watching sports
- Following the popular news cycle
This is not meant to advocate a completely ascetic lifestyle. Rather, the test’s purpose is to make you hyper-aware of when you are wasting time and not grinding towards your life’s goals, so that it becomes the rare exception rather than the norm it is for nearly everyone else you meet. If you’ve been procrastinating making some major changes in your life, you should distill your principles down to a four-way test, then apply it religiously for a week. I guarantee you will be closer to your goals at week’s end.