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Money Isn't Everything

In a society that places excessive value on economic success and standing, it can be seemingly natural to allow money and financial gain to be our main drivers in life. Allow me to say this before going any further: it is totally ok to want to make a lot of money or become a CEO or upper manager or whatever your professional goals are. There is nothing wrong with any of that. But, when professional goals and aspirations get in the way of your personal happiness and enjoyment in life, it may be time to reflect and reexamine your priorities.

As the saying goes, money can’t buy happiness. The popular stat around this statement is that financially linked happiness plateaus at around $75,000 per year, meaning any salary above that rate does not improve your happiness beyond a certain level. That has recently been updated, but the sentiment is the same. While this is an extreme example, and most of us may not see a $75,000+ salary, it just goes to show that chasing the big bucks can only do so much for you, and this can be applied to all paygrades and salary amounts. The road to riches is not the same as the road to happiness. They may intersect or share a path, but ultimately, they are different routes.

For the great majority of people, work is not something they really enjoy. Yet, people will consistently push themselves to the limit with increased workloads and longer days in pursuit of the increased earning potential. Sure, the extra money is nice to have. But what is the opportunity cost of increasing your paycheck? By committing to the pursuit of money, you will have to make a few trade-offs along the way. Some of these may include spending less time with your friends and family, less time enjoying a hobby, reduced volunteerism, or fewer vacations and travel opportunities. What good is having more money if you don’t have the time to make use of it in fulfilling ways? Along the same lines, if you dedicate more time to work, that can lead to the weakening of relationships with loved ones and close friends. There is only so much time in this world. Don’t let work get in the way of being with the important people in your life.

I believe that work is not simply a means to obtain wages. Money should not be the sole purpose for your labor. Like I mentioned before, everyone is different, and we all have different values. There are many different things to look for when searching for the right job, and you should identify what your ideal job looks like on this search. Personally, I value having a strong work/life balance, being part of a tight-knit culture built on teamwork and camaraderie and being in a position with opportunities for personal growth all around. Above all, I want to do something that is spiritually fulfilling, something that gives me joy. I don’t want to wake up and say, “I am going to work to make x amount of money today,” but rather “I am going to work because I want to go to work and do my job.” That’s not to say that money is entirely irrelevant, of course. Obviously, we need resources to sustain ourselves. All I’m saying is if I must choose between my happiness and a bigger salary, I’m taking my happiness without a second thought. It’s much easier to adjust your lifestyle to your means when your lifestyle is one you want to live.

It might be easy for me to say that money isn’t everything and that leading a life driven by the dollar bill isn’t the ideal way to live. Sure, I’m only 22 and I’ve spent most of my working years in minimum wage positions while I went through college. But maybe the message would resonate a bit more coming from a doctor who wrote an article detailing his life and experiences before and after making the big bucks. A universal truth is that things only have value if we give them value. Material items like a big fancy car or a new designer watch holds the worth we believe them to have. The same goes for abstract things, like relationships and experiences. We may be conditioned to value some things higher than others, but we have the ability to readjust our vision and redefine what makes us happy. We owe it to ourselves to focus on those things we value. A simple change of mind can completely change your world.