I’m currently reading Tim Ferris’s “The Four Hour Workweek”, and in one of his sections he talks about money. Specifically, he talks about how having money as our goal isn’t the most effective way of going about things if we want to be fulfilled. This is something that has come up in a lot of the books I’ve read, and so this week I wanted to explore that idea a little further.
It’s not really about the money at all. Or definitely not as much as we think it is.
Now when you think about it, most people have the goal of becoming rich, or at least becoming financially successful. But a lot of us don’t acknowledge that this goal isn’t actually about having a lot of money; It’s about the feeling that comes with that money.
I’m sure there are those who truly are just in it for the pleasure of having more and more money, but for the majority of us I think it’s really about how we feel when we know that money isn’t an issue. To some of us, the feeling of having money is validation. To others, it’s freedom. And sadly, to a lot of people, it’s a sense of relief.
So really, we work the jobs we work and do the things we do not for the paycheck, but for the feeling that comes with it. But there’s a BIG problem with this: Does it make us feel good when we know we’re just doing something for the money? Not at all.
This goal is a contradiction in itself. You’re getting money to try and feel good, but in order to get that money you’re making yourself feel bad. You’ll never get to a point where you feel right when you have to neglect yourself in order to get there. It’s one step forward, and two steps back.
So many of us get degrees in things we don’t care about to work in jobs that don’t fulfill us, all in the name of money. We sacrifice years of our life, tens of thousands of dollars (potentially in debt), and our emotional well-being because we’re supposed to get something that won’t even save us.
Being rich has it’s benefits, no doubt. But it can hurt just as much as it can help.
Most people never become rich! It’s a very, very small number of people who make into that category. But let’s say you do make it, and you do end up making a lot of money. Don’t get me wrong, being rich is probably an awesome experience. But there’s risk here too in that you can become trapped in the lifestyle that money provides.
What happens when you want a change of scenery? When you want to work a different job or do something else with that time, but can’t because you need the money you’re making to support your lifestyle? People get trapped in mortgages, leases, and all kinds of other purchases and are then forced to do things they don’t like to keep themselves afloat. That sucks.
It was here that I wanted to share a cool quote Tim used to explain this:
“These individuals have riches just as we say that we ‘have a fever’ when really the fever has us.”
Seneca said it best. We may eventually get the money we want, but money wins in the end. It gets our lives. And who wants that?
So I shouldn’t want to be rich. What’s the better alternative?
Rather than having money as the goal, I would instead aim for having how you feel as the goal. Instead of looking at careers for their average income & employment packages, look at them for the experiences they provide and how doing that work will make you feel.
Aim for work that excites you, for work that’s in line with your interests, for work that you would be proud to say was yours when you retire.
In short, aim for a career that has emotional value rather than financial.
Because when you think about it, that’s really what money was all about in the first place.
Thanks for reading. There is so much more to be said about this question, so definitely expect more blogs on the emotions behind what we do, sacrificing money for passion, etc.
Let me know what you think below, let’s talk about this! I’ll be sharing more of my thought’s on Tim’s stuff as I continue with the book, as you can tell it’s been pretty interesting so far.