I’ve viewed money as the most important part of a successful career for virtually my entire life. That’s what you’re trained to care about. If you weren’t being taught that, you were fed a rehearsed speech about the importance of following your dreams and passions. But aside from the cheesy guidance counselors, the main focus was on finding a career that would set you up for financial success.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying money isn’t important. It is. It’s one of my main focuses, especially this early in my career. It always annoys me when people completely undermine the importance of choosing a lucrative career. Yeah, money isn’t necessary for happiness. But you need money to do a lot of the stuff you want. You need money to pursue that stuff that does make you happy. So yes, money is important. But it’s not everything.
Everyone’s goal in life is happiness. That’s what we’re actively working towards every single day. I like to measure the importance of money by how much it affects our happiness. Money does directly correlate with our happiness up until a certain point. Once you hit an income that allows you to live comfortably, your happiness stays virtually stagnate. As long as you’ve got money to save, pay rent, take care of your car, eat good food, and keep beer stocked in the fridge, who cares?
After you hit that point of living comfortably, your expectations rise at the same exact rate that your income does. You start making more money, and what you think you deserve rises. It’s a never ending spiral and it’s the reason we see unhappiness often connected with wealth.
You know what does increase your happiness? Purpose and people in your life that you care about. Purpose is completely up to the individual person. For me, it means adding value by doing fast and exciting work for people I like.
I made a very humble amount of money this last year. Far less than is considered to be necessary for your average adult. But I lived a very comfortable life. I had money for rent, gas, fun with friends, and good food. Even though I made less money than I have since I was 16, my overall happiness soared straight up. And that’s because I work in an exciting office doing important stuff that I know people value.
Again, I hate when people completely disregard the importance of money. My point is that while yes it’s important, it doesn’t take much to live a very comfortable life. Your career decisions should be made on the basis of how much you like the work, the people, and the office environment. After that, start to consider the money.