The 4X Philosophy

By Vivek Bhargava, an EO Mumbai member and managing director of iProspect Communicate 2

My father was on the ventilator, and I was in the visitor’s lounge of the hospital unable to sleep … it was the perfect time to set my life goals. I thought to myself: What is the simplest, all-encompassing goal I could set for myself? And then it hit me: I want to lead a joyous life … every minute of every day!

To me, being successful meant I would only do things that gave me joy, and that I have the freedom to say no to all of the things that don’t bring me joy. Once I figured this out, it was just a matter of identifying the things that gave me immense joy. They are as follows:

  • Continually learning new things: I try to learn a new skill every quarter, and have just finished a news anchoring course
  • Gaining new experiences: I walked on fire last week, tried out a spiral in paragliding last month, have gone for a 10-day meditation camp where one is not allowed to speak, etc.
  • The 4X Philosophy: This article is focused on elaborating this philosophy, a part of my goal that is focused on purely material objects

Seventeen years ago, a chance meeting with a multi-billionaire changed my life forever. He shared his interesting “4X” philosophy that I have followed ever since. In his words, the key to satisfaction with material success is to “only upgrade your lifestyle in MULTIPLES, never in INCREMENTS.” So, how does it work?

Let’s assume that your income is 100 and your expenses are 80. As your income increases, most people incrementally increase their expenses, as well. In the 4X philosophy, you hold your expenses steady until you’re able to afford a single 4X jump from 80 to 320. Your mind has years of experience of “lifestyle at 80,” so the “lifestyle at 320” tends to have an eternally joyous quality.

Naturally, for this to happen, you have to patiently wait until your income hits a sustainable 400! The trick is to hold back the incremental-but-rapidly-dissipating happiness and play jujitsu with your mind to deliver it a single-but-long-lasting shot of joy. When I tried this for the first time, I upgraded from a seven-year-old US$12,000 hatchback to a USD$40,000 luxury sedan. It was a 4X step change that continued to bring a smile to my face years after I had made the upgrade.

Before I knew it, the 4X philosophy became a way of life for me, and I made my own tweaks to it based on my attitude toward life. Instead of upgrading my entire lifestyle by 4X, I applied it to each and every object or experience. From the clothes I wear, the house I live in and all the way up to the brand of rice that I relish, this approach has allowed me to upgrade something by 4X almost every other month, and I continue to do so till this day.

Here are some of the benefits that I’ve experienced from this philosophy:

  • Attracting Wealth: I’ve used the 4X approach to integrate Rhonda Byrne’s “Secret” into my life. For example, I owned a Tag Heuer watch for 12 years. I knew all those years that my next one was going to be a white-dial steel Daytona, the next one after that was going to be a specific Hublot which is 4x of the Daytona, and the one thereafter was going to be a Richard Mille … and so on. Every time I look at my Daytona now, it makes me feel good because of my 12 years of experience with the Tag. I am filled with joy with what I have and continue to work hard for my next upgrade.
  • Improving Self-Confidence: From the moment you wake up, everything you see around you is 4x, 16x and 64x of what you used to own at one point in time, and you start believing in your own success and abilities. Funnily enough, the 4X approach has also influenced external perceptions about my success. I know countless people who may be as financially successful as me, but even my extended family has a perception about me that is superior to reality.
  • No Downgrades … Ever: As we all know, a lifestyle downgrade can be a painful experience for oneself and the whole family. Worse, a downgrade can also lead to demotivation and disillusion. With the 4X approach, you only make the upgrade when you know that you can comfortably afford it. While you’re always attempting the upgrade, the worse that happens is that you take longer to get there with greatly reduced chances of a downgrade.
  • Builds Character: The best part of the 4X approach is the way it has built my character beyond mere materialistic gains. As I continue to use this approach, I’ve noticed that I am more patient and persistent in all aspects of my life. And as I’ve moved higher up in life, it gets more difficult to make the next 4X upgrade, but I get to experience a lot of joy at having reached a new point in my life.

Having shared the rewards of this approach with my friends and family, I notice that I have become a more open and generous person. I now operate from a level of confidence that I will be able to afford this for myself, family and friends for the rest of my life. I continue to enjoy the simple joys of daily life without letting success get to my head, because I constantly remember the journey that I took to get where I am today.

I come from a land where we have plenty of wealth; however, the inequalities have conditioned us to almost be embarrassed about being wealthy. The 4x philosophy has changed my perspective on wealth, and I hope it does the same for you.


Categories: general Other


5 Responses to “ The 4X Philosophy ”

  1. Vivek bhargava on

    Hey thanks guys for such wonderful comments, giving a TEDx talk on this philosophy so came back to the article and found all these comments I had not replied 🙂

  2. Jay on

    Nice article Vivek Sir, but I have a few reservation about it. You were on a Tag level already :). What if a person tired to alleviate from a fast track and is not able to do so, don’t u think he might get frustrated?
    From childhood we are thought to be content with what we have. Want
    s are The source of all un happiness.
    This philosophy sounds completely alien to our Indian mind set.
    But I will try to follow it because however superficial materialism seems it is fact of life which I have experienced after I had to down grade due to change in career. Down grade brings immense pain and I wouldn’t let that happen to my family ever again. Thanks for the article. Fast becoming you fan I must say 🙂

  3. Gurpreet Singh on

    Excellent article – Will start following it… Few years from now i can also say… Founder of the company i worked for shared his 4x mantra which changed my life forever…

  4. Jacqueline Arias on

    What a powerful philosophy to live your life …..
    It’s rare that I get totally immersed in an article since a lot of the stuff you read tends to be a re-hash of something you already know
    But the 4x philosophy is brand new to me
    Upon reading it I quickly did a check on my past to see if there instances of 4x ….3x yes but never 4x!
    Thanks for inspiring me. Love it.

  5. Amsaraj on

    Great philosophy @Vivek. Most of the times I’ve got downgrade myself because i thought it happen. However it should rectify to get success. Keep on following with you. Thanks 🙂


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