Would You Rather Be Wealthy or Happy?

Would You Rather Be Wealthy or Happy?

This past weekend, Nick and I had our weekly phone meet, in which we talked about one of the work challenges we regularly face, which is TOO MANY IDEAS. We get a lot of pretty decent venture ideas, and routinely have to do reality checks on them to keep our projects solidly on track. It’s a common mantra for some entrepreneurial folks. Ideas are useless without execution, and if you have too many, you probably won’t have the time or focus to realize them.

This got me thinking about what I’m doing, and reminded me to have some clearer goals. It’s sort of burned into our brains in western culture that being a millionaire is a desirable goal. But is it? Or is it likely that you’ll ever be one? I did some quick research, and according to a globally-focused Deloitte Development Summary that I found (The  Next Decade in Global Wealth, 2013), your chances of becoming a millionaire are about one half of one percent. If you want to make that sound a little more like it’s likely, that’s a 1 in 181 chance! Next time you’re surrounded by 200 people, look for the millionaire. But what will a million dollars buy you? Well, about 60,000 pizzas. Or an Aston Martin Vanquish and a Ferrari F430. Or a closet-like apartment in Manhattan. Frankly it’s not that much money these days, unless all you want is a lot of pizzas.

Amongst my friends, I find a comparable ratio of happiness amongst the affluent ones when compared to the not-affluent ones. In my experience, wealth really doesn’t guarantee a person will be genuinely happy. Personally, it was a strange realization over the last few years that my real desires aren’t based on “being wealthy,” but will require some wealth generation to achieve. Give me a piece of land that I’m not in debt for (and I’ve avoided the homeowner debt monster by the way), and some good friends, and some time to do things I enjoy, and I’m good to go.

But back to the “too many ideas” thing. My point with all these meandering thoughts is this: if your plan for success is simply to make a certain amount of money, there’s a good chance you’re going to fail all around. This isn’t breaking news or anything, but it’s easy to lose sight of, and why I’m glad I took a look at my values about why I want to generate a bigger revenue stream in my life. If you finally buy that multimillion dollar home, who is the person that’s going to be living there, and what will they DO in it?

“Wealth is the slave of a wise man. The master of a fool.” ~ Seneca