The Four-Way Test

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:

  1. Is it the truth?
  2. Is it fair to all concerned?
  3. Will it build goodwill and better friendships?
  4. 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.

Don’t Miss: Facebook Is Hurting Your Game

21 thoughts on “The Four-Way Test”

  1. Very good article. I’ve been managing my time already using just a simple question “Is this improving me in some way?”
    If you have some old good dicipline it works most of the time.

  2. Really good stuff in this article. It’s interesting how many time-wasting, unproductive activities have a feminizing effect on men – for example, fuss-potting over what the media is saying, constantly updating/checking your status on ChickBook, pigging on high-carb foods and sugary drinks, pointless socializing (read: gossiping).

    1. “constantly updating/checking your status on ChickBook”
      I refuse to date any man who has a facebook page, UNLESS he also has a business and that facebook page is a facebook business page. Or if his family is in a foreign country and he uses it to communicate and share photos with them. But your average American man has no excuse for it.

  3. Quality thinking from the . . . Black Knight? Today there is an abundance of information on how to live your life which more than often can simply confuse your thinking. But the [White] Knight’s “Four-Way Test” simplifies it and brilliantly condenses a plan in how to live your life in a way that will reap long term happiness and satisfaction.
    Check out the history of the most successful people and see how much time they spent watching television. Better to have a plethora of worldly ideas researched by yourself than a history of winning pop culture trivia contests.
    Look forward to the [White] Knight expanding on this post in the future.

  4. That post is right on point. So much of our time is wasted on non productive activities that do nothing to enhance your life experience.
    I like this criteria and will implement it in my ongoing shift away from ‘normal’ habitual lifestyle choices.

  5. This is a fantastic article. Once you start living like this, your quality of life, in all areas, begins to skyrocket.

  6. good post. time is often wasted.
    i’d add: am i doing what i should and could be doing?
    i also think many jobs should be quit too, often you’re just busting your ass for someone else’s pocket while getting too little in return.

  7. Just curious. Did you get “black knight” from one of my posts on the RVF?
    Also, great post on prioritization. I’ll probably be reading your blog in the future.

  8. I like this test. Nothing wrong with doing something for fun, just make sure you’re getting a good bang for your buck, time-wise.

  9. you outta make reminder cards with that on it, like a credit card. So whenever you get the temptation to do something stupid, you remember you have that card….

  10. A-freakin’ men. I just recently looked at my life and decided my priorities were way out of whack, so I started working on things that truly benefit and improve myself. There is a lot of garbage out there that we distract ourselves with.
    Great Post.

  11. This >>> “going out when not in the mood” seems to contradict this ….
    “the question to apply to this area is: “Is it a leisure activity that produces pleasure in a high ratio to time/money spent?”
    Why waste time, energy and money on doing something you’re not in the mood for?
    You’ll yield higher and more pleasurable results when you go when you’re in the mood for it.

    1. Have you never hesitated to do something then had a blast after you started? He’s talking about the times you’d rather play another Starcraft match or watch Breaking Bad, not the times when your dog died or you’re sick.

  12. Thank you so much for this article! The past 6 months of my life have been coming to terms with everything you just summed up here. Cheers

  13. I disagree. Here’s a two question test:
    1. What are my goals?
    2. Does this help achieve any of them.
    The problem with your test is that it *assumes* that a man’s goals fall into one of four categories: acquire money, health, knowledge, or sex. Nothing wrong with any of these goals, but suppose a man enjoys a particular activity – say painting, or working on old cars, or playing chess – as an end in itself, even if it isn’t going to get him any of the above things, I see nothing wrong with allocating time and money to it.
    I agree that there are far too many men who watch stupid TV shows simply because there is nothing else to do. They should figure out their goals and try to attain them. The problem with your test is that it decides what those goals should be.

  14. Stay away from “juicing”.
    Steroids will put your pattern baldness at least 10 years ahead of schedule.
    Free Testosterone supplements and “herbs” too – they are like octane booster that gums up the carburetor. Yeah you get ripped abs but you start balding at 30. A 4-pack and a full head of hair is better. Eat healthy and you won’t need supplements.

Comments are closed.