My view about money changed once I left the corporate world. “Why?,” I wondered.
Early in my life I was lead to believe money was the most important measure, the one thing that matters on a personal scorecard. I became wired to succeed, earn promotions and win awards. All in the pursuit of “more money,” money for the family, money for more stuff.
This pursuit came at a cost; pressure to produce personal results in a competitive environment doesn’t come without hard work, long hours and time away from the family.
We end up spending more time at work or thinking about work when we are out of the office. We sacrifice time with our families and time pursuing our passions. All that time working in a corporate environment causes you to conform; to become the corporate person somewhere along the way you lose the freedom to be the real you. We trade our true personality in exchange for economic security: a security which in today’s environment is not even guaranteed.
My relationship with money changed when I finally began to feel financially secure late in my career. My priorities changed and I was able to step back and realize that my career was only providing financial security, but little else.
I learned that the worst thing you can do is to spend time working at a job that does not provide fulfillment, all for a little more money. Living, maybe existing is a better word, causes you to lose yourself a little bit each day. You find yourself sitting at work, glancing now and then at your pension statement, trying to hang on for a retirement which if not planned gets you away from work, but still may not be fulfilling. Sure, you can save a little more for a retirement, but you really have no idea how you will spend your time. The paradox is that for many of us our financial situation is at an all-time high, but the quality of life is at an all-time low.
I was lucky to be “retired” by the Corp.
In hindsight I was lucky to be “retired” by the corp.; it freed me to pursue what Maslow calls self-actualization. Self-actualization means finding your personal potential, seeking personal growth and achieving self fulfillment. In my case I found that helping others was something that helped me on my journey to self-actualization. Today, money is a poor metric for measuring success. It cannot measure the things that now matter to me; I think that means I am finally on the right path. Money would not compensate me for how I feel inside. the excitement that I feel when helping others or the thank you I get from helping people.
Money is now a tool to build VLR so I can help others, rather than buying things that will help me dull the pain from just trying to survive. The pain is gone now because I know what I need to feel good and the truth is that I don’t need a lot of money to do that.
Thoughts about self-employment
Some thoughts about money and being self-employed:
1.) Making money doesn’t make me feel like I’m winning. Money is not my scorecard.
2.) More money doesn’t make me happier; doing work that is important to me and finding ways to help others gives me far more satisfaction.
3.) The amount of money you make doesn’t measure character or show you are a good person.
4.) Helping people does not have to be profitable.
5.) Money should not be your primary motivator.
Financial independence means freedom to choose
When we are able to remove the pursuit of money from our story it’s a whole different narrative. Achieving financial independence gives you the freedom to choose things that aren’t directly linked to making more money and that is when living really starts.
In Victory Lap money is no longer the all-encompassing “why” many of us been chasing all our lives, so don’t be surprised when people have trouble relating to the “new you.” Don’t let others judge you because of money; they just don’t get it. Hopefully one day they will.
Because money is no longer the “why” in life, stress is reduced because you don’t have to generate more money in order to live. Now you are able to call the shots regardless of whether there is money in it or not. If you don’t want to do something then you don’t do it: that’s freedom in the purest sense. You can afford to be patient knowing it is about helping people and not about making a sale. It’s a lot easier when you believe in what you are doing; you will be more successful in whatever you choose to do.
Mike Drak is an author, blogger and speaker based in Toronto. He can be reached at email@example.com. Victory Lap Retirement, co-authored with Hub CFO Jonathan Chevreau, is a Globe & Mail bestseller available for orders online and on Kindle and Kobo ebooks. The paperback edition is available in Chapters Indigo and many independent bookstores, as well as Costco. This blog originally ran on Mike’s site on August 10th and is reprinted here with permission. Mike will be at The Zoomer booth at the Zoomer show in Toronto this weekend at the CNE’s Enercare Centre: Oct. 28-29. Anyone who takes out a subscription to Zoomer magazine will receive a free signed copy of Victory Lap Retirement.