There’s a powerful allure to the “self-made millionaire.” Across vocations and incomes, some of the most viral and popular articles in the personal finance world provide how-tos to readers. And if they’re not step-by-step guides, articles tend to showcase people who’ve succeeded in their path to great financial success.
The lesson is simple: watch and learn. View a role model, and copy the steps to success. Seemingly, this is propagated as a convenient and regular method for monetary gain. Unfortunately, every individual is different — from intelligence to net worth to credit rating. Each of these factors can influence your ability to hustle and follow in these role models’ footsteps.
Too frequently, affording a lifestyle is purely linked to income and wealth. That goal of riches seems empty to me, what do you think? What if we reversed this strange paradigm and reviewed the life, rather than money, we want?
Today I wanted to introduce a new method for success that downplays the millionaire status for something more lasting and rewarding. The following are 5 key elements for a fulfilling and happy life, and may just provide the riches along the way!
1. Freedom. This is continually at the top of the heap for financially savvy worker bees. Freedom allows for free time, family time, and fun time. Often, more work and income are seen as the pathways to this goal. This ironically can propel us further from freedom and enter into a vicious work-cycle that only perpetuates our desire for more down time. When we scrub away goals of financial riches, freedom and time become crystal clear. Reduce any discretionary spending (if possible), and you’ll suddenly see more money in your pocket — all while maintaining and/or reducing time spent working. Now, you can read that book with your newfound free time (just make sure to check it out of the public library)!
2. Autonomy. People love choice and independence. Heck, as children, our first words are usually “yes” and “no” (right after “mom” and “dad”). We are born, bred, and instructed in the world of autonomy. Imagine for a moment the toothpaste aisle. Can you picture all the options, rows, columns, and sale items? Every time I walk by the toothpaste I’m bombarded by the variations — uncertain where my money is best spent. With more money, we get more choice. With riches, we are able to choose grander items — upgrading from a Ford Pinto to a BMW 7-Series. But this is the unfortunate influence of massive advertising dollars. Will the BMW 7-Series make a fundamentally whole and self-actualized person? Unlikely. And that brings us to the original point of this list: fulfillment. Let’s make fulfilling decisions that last, not spontaneous purchases that fill wants and cravings.
3. Self-worth. The things we own tend to say a lot about us. There’s actually a professor, Sam Gosling, that wrote a book called Snoop: What Your Stuff Says About You. He points out some pretty self-explanatory conclusions about your living spaces. Your home represents you, and can often provide a sense of self-worth. Remove your items, and who are you? Really, I mean it… Without your iPhone, Macbook Air, furniture, photos, and material goods, tell me about yourself. Can you do it? I bet you can, because your self-worth and personhood is bigger than anything you own. After years of shopping sprees and poor financial planning, I realized that once I stopped spending wantonly, my self-worth soared. This is an intrinsic trait that requires inner worth and work — your bank account will never provide true self-worth.
4. Health/Safety. There are countless examples of wealthy people having bodyguards and security teams. Their money is frequently seen as a path to safety. But this is comically out-of-whack, as the wealthier you become, the more threatened you may feel. Frankly, the stories of billionaires being kidnapped for ransoms should scare anyone. What this tells us is that there’s a middle-ground for wealth and safety. The safest and healthiest levels seem to center on getting your health needs met and living in a proper shelter. Again, this doesn’t require millions.
5. Companionship. I dream of hosting lavish parties in a loft apartment; preferably, encapsulated in the clouds with glass windows. Something modern to look out at the world. What my heart and head is really getting at is a desire for friends and companionship. It speaks in funny ways, when it desires these simple pieces of fulfillment. Companionship and connection with other people is fundamentally human — we are social creatures. But money isn’t necessarily required for that. Sure, you may not look like the Rich Kids of Instagram, floating on a yacht full of tanned 20-somethings, but there are people who care and will be around when the going gets tough; again, regardless of the digits in your bank account.