We’re trained from a young age that you’re supposed to seek out money. Many of the things I wanted at a young age were possible only with money. I wanted new toys, a nice car when I turned 16, and the “cool” clothes.
I grew up thinking that money was the ultimate goal as I think many do, because we’re simply too young to understand that there is often a significant trade off between making more money or having more free time. Happiness is important, not money.
This is a good point for me to clarify that when I say happiness is more important that money, I’m talking about situations where people are actively pursuing money at the expense of their happiness; people who take the intense sales, consulting, lawyer or investment banking jobs that they don’t necessarily enjoy instead of pursuing another career they think they would enjoy more.
I got caught in this trap early on. I wanted to pass the “cocktail test” and have an impressive job to talk about when people asked what I wanted to do. What did that cost me in the end? I wasted my first three years in college pursuing a medical degree, dropped out to start a company, and then had to go back years later to finish my degree. I knew I was interested in business, because I had started countless companies growing up, but something felt safer and more impressive about becoming a surgeon.
I still didn’t completely learn the lesson at that point because I stayed far too long in a business partnership that I thought would be extremely profitable, but was driving me to the brink of depression. At the end, I was even going to a therapist twice a week to deal with the stress, because I was afraid of walking away and losing a lot of money.
I eventually did, and from that point on, I’ve only pursued careers and businesses that I genuinely enjoyed. I’m not going to say it was always easy, but every day since then I’ve gauged every opportunity by how happy I would be doing it before even thinking of the money it could bring.
Did it work? Amazingly. It took some time to develop the skills needed to pursue the opportunities I wanted, but I’m now making more money, working less, and am ABSOLUTELY happy almost every day of my life.
It can be scary to take the jump and pursue what makes you happy, but it’s much scarier to believe you’re going to eventually make enough money to pursue your dreams and be happy.
Life is short.