Imagine hitting all your life and financial goals. Sounds great, right?
But many people who get there hit a funk.
Pat Flynn, an online entrepreneur, received this chilling email not long ago. He shared this email in his book Will It Fly? It’s worth sharing if you think money alone is all that matters:
Subject: I make $20,000 per month and I’m not happy.
Hi Pat, I’m sorry to email you like this, but I had no one else to turn to. I feel like I know you because I listen to your voice all day. You’re like a friend, even though we’ve never met. Sorry if that sounds weird.
Anyway, I want to thank you. You don’t know this, but you’ve taught me so much about how to build a successful online business. I currently generate over $20k per month in recurring revenue, but here’s the thing…
I’m unfulfilled. I’m not as happy as I thought I was going to be.
A few years ago, before I started my company, the thought of making this kind of money online was a pipe dream. Now that my “dream” has come true, I realize that I didn’t give my dream much thought at all and there’s much more to life than just making money.
I don’t even know why I’m emailing this to you, Pat. Maybe just to get it off my chest and share it with someone who might understand because you seem to have it all figured out. I don’t know. I just opened my email and started typing, which is funny now that I think about it because I jumped into it without a plan, sort of like how I started my business. Clearly I need to work on that.
Anyway, I don’t expect a reply because I know you’re busy. Thank you Pat, for all you do.
This man is not alone. Throughout my hundreds of hours of study of successful people, I’ve found many celebrities and successful entrepreneurs come forward with the same conclusion that wealth and/or fame doesn’t guarantee happiness.
What separates them from the rich and happy people?
In his book, Pat explains that he frequently meet entrepreneurs like this who have “put their ladder on the wrong building and made it to the top.” They’ve built businesses they didn’t enjoy because they wanted to get rich. Passion matters. But even if you become rich and passionate about what you do the following questions may still pop up: “Is this all there is to it?”, “What do I do now?” and “I don’t feel any happier” pop up.
This is an extra special episode of Will’s Personal Development Podcast because it is a theme that I see is a problem for billions of people who are told by mainstream entertainment that money or fame will make them happy… when it does not. And I will prove it to you, with science.
In this episode, I dive into what to do if you are rich and successful but not happy. I will use science backed answers to explain why this happens and how to fix this. Be prepared to learn:
- why you do not need to give all your money to charity to feel happy.
- why people who have nothing can have so much fun and be so happy.
- what rigorous, unbiased scientific research reveals about the relationship between money and happiness (it’s shocking).
Without further ado, please enjoy the episode:
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Here is a summary of some of the big points I brought up in the podcast for those who are busy:
- Purpose, constant challenge in your work, and enjoyment of your work contribute to happiness — something money can’t always buy and something some successful people forsake when they get rich and retire.
- Generally speaking, people find meaning and fulfillment through Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Survival and food come first. Some turn to religion. Others turn to making an impact before they day. Others want to be known and mattered long after they die. Some want to leave a positive impact on society or a certain group of people.
- Practice happiness-building practices that science shows actually brings happiness (exercise, gratitude, savoring the good, avoiding dwelling on the bad and comparison, and/or religion). See the links in the Show Notes below for specific practices you can take.
- Don’t get it wrong. Money helps, especially if you haven’t hit the threshold of being able to afford food, healthcare, and shelter. But after that, studies show that the correlation diminishes.
If you are ever struggling with not feeling accomplished or happy with what you have achieved, even if you have achieved a lot, try this:
Compare yourself to where you were in the past rather than to others better than you or your future potential. You may be constantly beating yourself up by always comparing yourself to someone who is better. This creates an endless cycle of disappointment. I learned this technique from the strategic coach, Dan Sullivan, who has coached over a thousand entrepreneurs.
If you are feeling unfulfilled despite being successful by society’s standards, try out a new career, business, or form of work.
The Yes or No Test
These questions will give you a guide towards what you’re missing in your life when it comes to happiness. You don’t have to answer Yes to all of these to reach your peak states of happiness but it’s a red flag if you’re answering No to many or all of these:
- Are you fulfilled with the work you do?
- Do you work more than 15 hours a week?
- Do you have a lot of fun with your job?
- Do you feel a sense of contribution from your recurring work where you feel you are delivering value to other people?
- Do you feel a sense of purpose from what you’re doing?
- Are you challenged by your work (enough that it’s tough but not so much that it’s overwhelming)?
- Do you have strong social relationships with friends and family and connect with them in person every day or at least once a week?
- Are you grateful for what you have in life and make an effort to count your blessings at least once a week?
- Are most or all of your top life goals already achieved so that you wouldn’t regret it if you died today and didn’t accomplish them? If not, are you at least making and executing on a plan to accomplish them?
Show Notes: Links Mentioned in the Episode
- Jeff Walker’s video on achieving all his goals, feeling lost, and deciding on a purpose:
Other Useful Unmentioned Resources
- Dan Bilzerian answers “Does Money Make You Happy?”
- Too Long Didn’t Watch: he says money brings you pleasure, but not happiness. When you raise the bar, it becomes your new standard and you get used to it. Climbing the ladder and enjoying the journey will make you happy. “Money and Pussy” are black holes; you can never have enough.
- The world famous supermodel Cara DeLevigne’s talk on happiness:
Here is the question of the day for you: What is the #1 lesson you learned from listening to this episode and how will you put it into action immediately? Please let me know in the comments below.
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