One of the questions we occasionally get asked as successful property investors is “If you have made all this money – why are you still working?”
In other words, why are we still working when we don’t need to?
And here’s where me and George Clooney have something in common. He has monetary riches – yet he keeps making movies. Why?
The answer is quite simple: There’s more to life than money.
There I said it.
Hey, don’t get me wrong. I like money. I love money! Or more accurately, I enjoy the lifestyle money affords me. But there are far greater drivers for me that are far greater than money.
What is ‘work’?
Much of this concept comes down to what you consider to be ‘work’.
It’s my experience – and likely yours – that many people in this world find themselves disillusioned with their lives and stuck in jobs that they either don’t enjoy, dislike, or downright hate. They are effectively trading their time (and some might say their souls) for money.
I love this quote from comedian Bill Hicks – and I think it sums up most people’s approach to life and work well:
“Caffeine from Monday to Friday to energise you enough to make you a productive member of society. Alcohol from Friday to Monday to keep you too stupid to figure out the prison you are living in.”
It’s a pretty bleak outlook really. But it’s not the way everyone views the world.
Heaps of people don’t enjoy work – or what they do for 40+ hours a week. And those same people think everyone is, or should be, the same. That’s because they think their sole goal is to get enough money to stop doing any work, and then they’ll be happy.
But, again, returning to Clooney… Think about the wealthiest people on the planet who have enough money to retire thousands of times over. Investors like Warren Buffet or Harry Triguboff, business people like Bill Gates or Janine Allis, entertainers like Oprah or Clooney. They all CHOOSE to continue to work despite their monetary riches.
Clearly, they all have something else driving them than simple monetary rewards.
Money alone won’t make you happy
So let’s assume you have now reached a point where all your expenses are covered, you have invested wisely and have enough passive income generated from your assets to support your lifestyle for the rest of your life. Now given that the average lifespan is approaching 80+ years, what are you going to do with the next 25, 50 or even 100 years (if the science of longevity kicks in sooner rather than later)?
If you find yourself in the position, where you don’t control enough wealth to have the choice of what you do on a daily basis, then it can seem like the best thing you could possibly do is generate enough wealth to do nothing. I guess if you have felt like you have been slaving away in a job you don’t enjoy for decades, it might be reasonable to just want to sit on a beach all day, or travel the world, or gorge yourself on all the experiences you feel you have been denied for lack of money.
So imagine you have all the worldly possessions you could need, and you have been sitting on a beach for the last month/year/decade – and at some point you will probably discover the reality that money alone can’t make you truly happy.
Sure I will grant you, for some it may be easier to be happier with wealth than without it – but a far more important realisation is finding your purpose for being on the planet. In fact, if I could give anyone the perfect gift it would be for them to discover their purpose in life. That is what gives them that invisible go-go juice that comes from discovering why and how they are destined to serve humanity. And I also know that might sound a little hippy, free-love out-of-sight man for someone who may be so caught up in the forest that they can’t see the trees, but nonetheless this is my truth.
I am fortunate enough to have discovered, early enough in my life, some of the things that I need to provide me with the non-monetary emotional rewards that provide me with immense joy and satisfaction. I believe that a major part of my purpose for being on the planet is to educate, inspire, and create opportunities for other people to help them live their dream lives. I get enormous emotional satisfaction from being able to provide other people with the clarity, confidence and conviction to go out and chase their dreams. That my being here, and in their corner, is making an immeasurable difference to their lives, and in turn enriching the enjoyment of both of our time on this planet.
Your life will end – but your influence lives on
This is probably the ultimate evolution in your wealth journey where you come to realise that at some point in time your life will come to end, but your influence need not.
Perhaps, your legacy is to simply leave a little something behind for your own immediate family. Perhaps, you want to create a perpetual scholarship, or contribute to (or even create!) a worthy charity that will endure for centuries. Whatever you choose to do, you can’t take your worldly riches with you, so having a plan for how you want them to be utilised after your passing is something worth thinking about. It may not be now, and in fact hopefully you won’t have any need to think about this stage for many years to come.
So in answer to all the cynics out there when they ask “why are we still working when we don’t need to?” – I would contend that we DO need to. Just not for the pay cheque.