I used to play the “I’ll be happy when” game. I’ll be happy when I get married, have a baby, lose 10 pounds—you get the idea. It’s the same with money. Many people think that if they can just attain that “ultimate” financial goal, their problems will be solved. Unfortunately, chasing money alone won’t bring you happiness or fulfillment. Here are five reasons why:
Money comes and goes
My father lost everything and came to the United States with nothing—literally nothing but the clothes on his back. If money had been what defined him, his life would have been over at that point. Instead, he relied on his courage, confidence, determination, and intelligence to pull himself up and start a new life from ground zero. Money is fleeting. If money equaled happiness, lottery winners would be the happiest people on the planet. Instead, lottery winners are more likely to declare bankruptcy within three to five years than the average American. Even studies have shown that winning the lottery does not necessarily make you happier or healthier.
Money alone will never be enough
You may think that once you reach that “target” financial goal, you’ll feel like you’ve made it. Wrong. I’ve seen it again and again. Instead, you want more. It’s never enough. That’s because having money as a goal won’t fill you up—because money isn’t a destination. It’s a tool. It’s a means to buy clothes, food, cars, homes, tuition, health care, and all the other things that you may think you want or need. Even Oprah Winfrey, whose net worth is $2.6B, shares that, “I still know I am not my income. I am not the lifestyle my income can afford me. I let money serve its purpose. But I don’t live to serve money. I think that’s why we have such a beautiful relationship.”
Money can’t change the way you feel about yourself
You look at wealthy people and think, I wish I were them. They must lead such amazing lives. But if you think money will give you confidence or make you feel more complete, think again. Tom Bilyeu, the co-founder of unicorn startup Quest Nutrition, says, “Despite how powerful money is…it can’t change the way you feel about yourself. That’s where most people go wrong. They want to be powerful; they want to be cool. They want to be admired, and most important, they want to admire themselves. But money can’t do anything to change the way you feel about yourself. Your insecurities will survive becoming wealthy. If you’re not proud of who you are, money won’t change that. If you don’t believe in yourself, money will fail you there, too.”
Money alone doesn’t give you a sense of purpose
If you want money just for the sake of it, you won’t be motivated enough to deal with the challenges you will encounter on your journey. You need a strong vision, a purpose. According to Steve Taylor, Ph.D., author of Out of the Darkness, “The need for purpose is one the defining characteristics of human beings. Human beings crave purpose and suffer serious psychological difficulties when we don’t have it. Purpose is a fundamental component of a fulfilling life.”
Chasing passion can be more lucrative in the long run
When you have the vision and a goal, the money will eventually follow you. Doing work that doesn’t get you excited can be draining. In the end, you become a robot just going through the motions. Doing what you love allows you to be creative. It fills you up with energy. When you’re passionate about your career, you actually end up working more because it doesn’t feel like work. By chasing passion, you’ll be more fulfilled, build better relationships and still make as much (or more) money than someone chasing status and income.
Don’t get me wrong—money is necessary. It is not inherently evil and can be used to accomplish extraordinary things. But if you don’t feel content with yourself before you attain wealth, chasing money isn’t going to fill you up. You’ll just be an unhappy human being with a large bank account scratching your head, wondering what went wrong. Success is a lifestyle, not a destination. Chase the passion, not the money. Find something that makes you feel like you love it so much, you’d do it for free. The money will come, and when it does, you will understand what real fulfillment feels like.
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