Is Money the Only Measure of Success?
Financial Management and Success
As I am updating our personal portfolio and working on the work portfolio I manage, I wondered, “Is Money the Only Measure of Success?” Look, I understand we all espouse a variety of success measures. These are a few success traits I value:
- Contributing member of society
- Good parent, neighbor, and friend
- Community volunteer
- Persistent hard worker
- Physical fitness
- Education and learning
- Design, art, and creativity
I’m sure you have your own list.
Is money the only measure of success for you? Consider how you define success.
Do you think those who earn more are more successful?
Believing that money = self worth is common in western cultures. This belief is difficult to escape. Yet, is it really true?
After earning, saving and investing enough to meet your basic needs, there’s little evidence to suggest that more money equals greater happiness. There are unhappy millionaires along with content and fulfilled lower income workers. In fact, I write about this very topic in secrets of the super rich.
On occasion it’s useful to look inside ourselves.
Do you spend time in self reflection?
Do you try to live in accord with your personal values? For example, which is more important; planning a fun day with your family at a local park or event or spending that day working to earn extra income?
There’s no correct answer. This is a decision I struggle with all of the time.
I love to work and I value earning extra money. Yet, spending time with my family is the most important activity for me. But I must confess that sometimes my actions don’t match up with my values.
Time is Finite
There is one certainty, time is finite. Once it’s gone, there is no more. I lost my dad a few years back, and seeing him during the last few years of his life drove this concept home. Couple that with the fact that no one knows how long they will live, and these realities underscore the importance of spending your time fruitfully.
I don’t have the answer to whether money is the only measure of success nor what is the best use of one’s time.
I resolve it by attempting to balance work, leisure, time with family, and time on hobbies.
I’m certain that this balancing act confronts most adults. In fact, just a few minutes ago I found an email in my inbox from Darren Rowse of Problogger fame offering a new book with the title Blog Wise: How to do More with Less. Although tempted to purchase, I realized there really is no secret message for productivity and success.
Yet, returning to the start of this post, while updating our portfolios I began to mentally project some of our annual income; I have a steady income writing for Investopedia.com, selling books, and marketing financially related products and services I believe in.
Yet, how much is enough? Is the marginal time spent earning a few extra bucks more important than a precious afternoon with my family? Personally, after a certain level of income is reached, the answer is; the best use of my time is to spend the time with my family! Yet this question also relates to your age and stage in life. If you’re looking to buy a house, maybe working that second job is really important right now. Or maybe you have a ton of debt and are determined to get it paid off. Then every extra cent earned is important.
Multiple Measures of Success
There are so many ways to measure success, and yes, money may be one of those ways. Yet the pursuit of an answer to, “How do you measure success?” is multifaceted. The happiness research intertwines the importance of finding one’s purpose in life, having control, and making a contribution. Does that mean that those who are happy are successful? In reality, these fundamental human desires may or may not result in financial wealth. Think about the single mom social worker with a few kids. It’s unlikely she’s swimming in extra cash, but she is definitely making a contribution to the betterment of society. If she helps place a child in a good home, she’s a true success. The community volunteer is working for the betterment of society, without remuneration. The mom who coaches the kids soccer team and the dad who helps with homework each night are successful within the family and helping the greater good as well. Is Donald Trump more successful than Mother Theresa?
In a broader sense, every job makes a contribution. And doing one’s job enthusiastically and competently can make you a success in any area. Society needs successful trash collectors, school teachers, accountants, and plumbers. When a pipe bursts, you value and appreciate a plumber more than a highly paid company president or wealthy movie actor.
Before you mindlessly dive into your next activity, think about the things you do that make your life successful. Don’t worry about what anyone else is doing. Realize what more money can and can’t do. Money can buy things and experiences, but it can’t buy relationships.Learn to get rid of financial worries, so you have more time for what really matters.
How do you measure success? Do you value money over other factors?
A version of this article was previously published