When did you last think about why you're working so hard? Or about what is motivating you to put in such long hours at the office? If the answer is simply "to make more money," you might want to reevaluate your goals. Is it money you're truly after--or contentment?

Earlier this week, The Wall Street Journal published an article entitled "Can Money Buy You Happiness?" The question is hardly novel, but I haven't stopped thinking about the research that was described within the piece. Like most entrepreneurs, I'm something of a workaholic. OK, I'm a full-blown workaholic. My business is my life, as I'm sure it is for many of you. When I contemplate retirement, I get a little antsy.

In the first section of his article, Andrew Blackman explains what many of us already know to be true, but haven't given enough thought: That life experiences give us more pleasure than material goods. Experiences are thought of as more fleeting than purchases. But in reality, we derive more value from experiences, because our memories of them are long-lasting, and they end up informing our sense of self. "The bottom line: When you don't have much money, a little extra can go a long way, because you have more essential needs to fulfill. But as you accumulate more wealth, it becomes difficult to keep "buying" more happiness," Blackman writes. 

That makes sense. But in practice, entrepreneurs seem to have time or money--never both. People are either working so hard they can barely lift their heads from their desks or struggling to justify a vacation they think they can't afford.

When I was young, my father taught me a lesson that continues to resonate with me. He asked me how much money I wanted to make every year and to do the math: Was I happy with how much I'd earn over the course of my lifetime? No--as it turns out, I wasn't. He told me the only way to create wealth was to identify a business opportunity that would allow me to generate passive income. I needed to create a product or business that would continue to offer value even when I wasn't around. His advice ultimately spurred me to look into licensing my ideas. I liked the idea of collecting royalties long after I had stopped "working" on an idea. I liked the idea of living wherever I wanted.

This is what I would tell my dad if he were still alive today. The beauty of passive income is not that it creates wealth: It affords you time. The research is pretty conclusive--experiences are worth more than we think. So shouldn't we be thinking about how to create more time for ourselves, and not wealth?

Look no further than passive income expert Pat Flynn for an example of how the multiplier effect can be put to its best use. In an interview with Forbes earlier this year, Flynn said, "I don't typically work eight hours a day. It's not a constant schedule. Generally, all day is spent with the family. I play with the kids and we make breakfast and read.... I do most of my work at night after they go to bed." This is a man who is making his wealth work for him, and not the other way around. He's prioritizing the experience of raising his kids. And I'm guessing he's pretty happy for it.

Published on: Nov 12, 2014
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