Around 5 years ago, I moved to London to start my adult life and pursue a career. Having jumped at the first job offer to be thrown my way, I found myself in a sales role based in Canary Wharf, surrounded by some of the biggest financial corporations and wealthiest people in London. Due to my surroundings, I soon found myself setting goals based on my salary, the amount of money I had and the material possessions I owned that would show off financial status. Every decision, both professional and personal, was based around making myself more affluent to satisfy this “ideal lifestyle” I had pictured in my mind’s eye.
3 years later I found myself consumed by misery, specifically when it came to money, desperate to achieve more but disappointed in what I thought to be my own perceived lack of ambition. It was at this point that I started talking to someone about how I felt, what was driving my unhappiness and what I could do to improve my day-to-day mental attitude. Looking back, it was pretty clear that my fixation on money was dragging me down…
“I’ve Never Met A Genuinely Happy Rich Person” – Bill Nighy
Throughout my time in London I have met incredibly wealthy individuals, through both personal and professional connections, and none have them have ever truly seemed to be happy. A catchphrase for many is often talking about how busy they are, how they had to spend another weekend in the office or how they spent another night working late. Sure their employers pay them handsomely but in return they expect more of your time and more of your blood to compensate for their increased investment.
I’ve met senior partners of successful law firms on their third divorce, I’ve met people who only see their family on weekends (if they’re lucky) because they work so late and have a second apartment in the city. I know people who are in their 60s, working until 8pm most nights simply because they followed the money. Now this may be the life for them but for me I want to live my life not just work it. We were born to do more than just live our lives behind a desk and I didn’t want to be telling people when I’m 50 that I’d spent my life glued to my work inbox.
You Spend Within Your Means
This is the other side of having money, namely that a lot of these wealthy people I know have the same stresses as me. They’re worrying about overspending that month, are they saving money, will they be able to afford the next big purchase? Of course, the figures are much bigger but their stress levels are very similar. I have friends who came to London on a salary that is half of what they are on today, yet their rent has remained unchanged and their lifestyle is neither better nor worse. A rule I quickly discovered was that what you don’t save, is often spent somehow.
So ultimately, these people aren’t happier. It’s just the numbers going in and out are bigger…
Money Is Not An Indicator of Good Character
The great people in my life and in society aren’t often the wealthiest. They are the people who give their time selflessly, offer help to those who are unable to help themselves and strive to make those around them happier. These are the people we remember fondly in conversations and invite to become bigger parts of our lives. When I think back to the people I love, I couldn’t tell you how much they made or what car they drove, but I can tell you how they made me feel loved and happy. That is the kind of person I want to be for both those around me and myself.
Be Poor and Live Life Richly, Rather Than Rich and Live It Poorly
So I come to the ultimate conclusion that I drew 3 years ago, I want to be happy and I want to strive for happiness. Confusing money and happiness had dragged me to a place of selfishness and jealousy, I felt like life was a race to a figure that always seemed to get bigger when I got it. Now I’ve chosen to move away from that and focus my efforts on enriching my life, doing what I love and being successful through passion for what I do.
There will be those of you who scoff and believe that money is the goal for you and, if it is, I sincerely hope that brings you happiness. However, after 5 years in one of the most expensive cities in the world I’ve come to the conclusion that I want to make those around me, and in turn myself, happier.
Thanks for checking out the post and make sure to let me know if you have any questions or feedback. You can also leave your own stories of how you changed your objectives, what you are aiming for in life or what helped you reassess your goals.