There is a difference between earning lots and having lots.
Even though revenue (think total sales or total income) is often a measure of success for a business, it is a false measure and provides only part of the story. The real yardstick is profit. You can generate lots of income but if you have a bloated staff base and other inefficiencies, there will be very little profit left and your business will not be successful.
Now, if you’re an employee, or self employed and drawing a wage, think about your personal life as a business. Your salary is your revenue. Your profit is the money left over after all of your spending.
Success isn’t in your $100K, $200K or $300K salary. This is only part of the equation and usually a completely false benchmark. In fact I’ve seen many examples in the people I work with, where the client earns half as much and still saves more dollars.
There’s a tunnel vision that occurs when life becomes “make money, spend money” and there’s not much light at the end.
Once you’re in the tunnel, it can be hard to find the exit. It’s addictive. Why? Because the act of spending itself becomes the ‘reward’. Therefore you become willing to put in the hard yards just for the joy you receive from spending the big bucks, not necessarily for what you are left with at the end of the day. Not to mention the time you spent earning those dollars for the exercise of spending.
I’m not telling you to live a life where you don’t earn much money. Working hard, earning lots and having an abundance of financial resources is a great objective, and will let you do some pretty cool shit, but this only works when it links to your definition of sufficient.
If satisfaction in the work is missing it becomes only about the money, and when this happens, you’re a goner.
The best advice I can give you in this area isn’t anything new. Do something you’re actually interested in.
In high school, I studied Maths, Chemistry and Physics because that’s what I was told would get me the highest marks in my final exams. I didn’t do amazingly well but I did get accepted into a Science degree at uni. Big mistake and in one of the first examples I have of pivoting based on my interests, I shifted to Business & Finance. At the time, leaving the head-spinning Physics textbooks for topics that seemed almost easy for me, felt like a cop-out.
Little did I know this was an early lesson in following your interests. Life becomes easier when you have an interest in the work you’re doing.
Make sure you get the path right first, before you set off chasing the dollars.
The flip side of this is that if you’re already truly enjoying the work you do, then realise that the grass is usually not greener. You may not be earning all the money in the world but that’s ok. You have something that most people can only ever wish for. Stop and reflect on this, it’s worth a lot more than you think.