As a former banker at Goldman Sachs, I used to think about dollars and cents. But as I progressed in my career, I realized that making more and more money was not what I considered to be a success. Being considered financially, without a sense of pride and success in the workplace, can feel empty, and my private career for the better part of the last decade has left me dissatisfied. So off I went.
Human wisdom has long held that money cannot buy happiness, but it is far more complex. Recent research shows that while high incomes are associated with longer life expectancy and greater satisfaction, there is a diminishing point: When our material needs and desires are met financially, making more money does not produce more happiness. I had reached a point where I wanted to create something tangible that combined my passion for good health with my desire to improve people’s lives.
My first successful attempt as an entrepreneur did that by donating nutritious food ingredients that would achieve that goal. Even after a few business ventures, I still have time to see my family, visit the country a few times a year, and often do things that bring me happiness. It started with a simple observation: I was deluding myself into what success was. I was no longer interested in how much money I could make and how much I could contribute, time and happiness with that money.
Don’t let happiness be the cost of ‘success.’
When I saw that my success metrics were happy and satisfying, it became clear to me how much time I had spent chasing the wrong motives. Now, I help my employees and other entrepreneurs find out what defines their success – without money – in three ways:
- Align your current route with your goal of life.
Ultimately, we all want to find purpose in our lives, and completely different from all of us. For some, life means raising children or giving them back to society. For some, it means getting to the forefront of the world’s newest cool clip. There is no right or wrong answer for everyone – but there is something wrong and wrong for you. That’s why your first step should determine what gives your life purpose and assess whether your current approach will allow you to see those effects.
If the purpose of your life should not be at the top of your current field, then you are arguing with anything that is most important to you. When I really did examine my health, I wondered if I would be happy to sit in my boss’s chair 10 or 20 years from now. The answer is no. That doesn’t mean I can’t go back to finance; it is impossible to know what purpose will define my life for the next 30 years. The finances were not well distributed with my individual intentions at this stage of my life, but they may have coincided with the following. To do that, try to think of an additional five years. Your goals and aspirations can change – and they will certainly change over time.
My real desire – the ways I would have been successful – was to have a positive impact on people’s lives, a sense of accomplishment by building a self-sufficient and profitable business, and the satisfaction of putting together a team that will entertain you while doing something worthwhile. Obviously, I had a problem with trading. Not scratching that will come in leaving me wondering “if?” my whole life.
- Give economic value to your values.
Your values guide a series of decisions and trades you make between your health and your job. A good way to determine which trade is appropriate is to assign an economic value to each decision. If comfort and time at home give your life meaning, you may be tempted to wear jeans to work or to work far away. Ask yourself: ‘Is it worth it to be willing to lose a few thousand dollars a year to keep it? Give those benefits a price to decide if casual wear is the ultimate luxury or what you can offer at a higher salary that can give you a home comfort. When comparing cash with profits, give the benefits the same amount.
At the same time, decide which prices will not be negotiated, which means no amount of money should be offered. With so many big decisions, even a few small ones, I made a list of comparisons. When I first started making financial decisions, being in New York (where I felt I deserved to be) and going to work was more important to me than a high salary in a different city. When I realized that I could do that and have a reasonable job offer, the choice was clear.
- Make adjustments first.
Once you’ve calculated your values and given them the right amount for the economy, force yourself to measure them and look for opportunities to increase your time spent on the top few. Before making any drastic changes, first find out whether the hidden shifts will be manipulated. If you want to work remotely, ask your supervisor if possible. If not, then consider whether getting a long-term position would be best for you. You could trade for a certain price unnecessarily, in which case, happiness and success may be closer than you think. Setting your prices will clearly show you what changes you need to make to comply.
You may be able to achieve the most important goals, with the highest value on your list in your current job, something you should check before you embark on a new career path. This test will also lay the groundwork for your next move. For example, I took nutrition courses and advised my friend to start early while I was in my role in a private fund. Getting a preview of the business approach while developing technology in the new field was a step forward in my love projects.
Success (by most social standards) and feeling successful (with your metrics) does not always go away. But you can choose your adventure and plan your course. One thing I do not know is that it does not work to lie. If your success metrics include values that are important and meaningful to you, then real success will always feel out of your hands, no matter how much money you make. But the funny thing is: If you do a favorite job that has a purpose for you, financial success tends to follow – you can end up raising your bank account next to your happiness.
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