Ask anyone who started their own business -- or hopes to someday start their own business -- what motivated them, and you'll get a variety of responses.

Challenge. Responsibility. Purpose. Fulfillment. Control. Making a difference in other people's lives.

And, of course, money -- if only because, unlike when you work for someone else, when you own your own company, your salary is only capped by the success of your business. You control, to the extent such control is ever possible, how much you earn.

Which means some entrepreneurs (maybe more than admit it out loud) also hope to become wealthy.

Which is great.

As long as it doesn't, as Steve Jobs said, "ruin" you.

Jobs believed in many things. He believed in the power of asking. He believed the future was something we can all make our mark upon. He believed in the power of belief itself, and of using that belief to motivate and inspire.

But what he didn't believe is that wealth was a proxy for intelligence. Or success.

When I was 25, my net worth was $100 million or so. I decided then that I wasn't going to let it ruin my life. There's no way you could ever spend it all, and I don't view wealth as something that validates my intelligence.

My favorite things in life don't cost any money.

Without a doubt, money is important. Money does a lot of things; one of the most important is to create choices. But after a certain point, money doesn't make people happier.

At above approximately $75,000 a year, money doesn't buy more (or less) happiness.

According to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences"Beyond $75,000...higher income is neither the road to experience happiness nor the road to relief of unhappiness or stress."

As another researcher says, "The materialistic drive and satisfaction with life are negatively related."  Or in non researcher-speak, chasing possessions won't make you happier. 

To paraphrase Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men, "You want a bigger house. You need a bigger house." So you buy it. Life is good...

... until a couple months later when your bigger house is now just your house. New always becomes normal.

So yes, money is important. (During the times in my life when I had none, money was especially important.) But once you reach a certain level of financial success, shift your focus at least slightly away from money.

Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it.

To Jobs, the goal was to make a living by doing what he loved.

How you define "living" is up to you -- but once you've reached that level of financial success, make sure you also work hard to include at least a little of the "love what you do" part.

Because then you'll be living the life you want to live.

And on your terms. 

Published on: Sep 23, 2019
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