Reframe how you measure wealth in your career
Take a moment and try to think of someone who is rich. If you’re like most people, the person you think of might have a lot of money, a big house, or expensive possessions. Traditional wealth is too often associated with material possessions.
Wanting to have fancy things or financial security is natural, but having more material wealth is certainly not the only measure of a successful career. Material wealth is often more visible and measurable, which certainly makes it more noticeable and even admirable. However, unpacking the true meaning of wealth can allow you to pursue a career that allows you to gain more of what you truly value most.
Rethinking Success Metrics
When I worked in the corporate world, I was like many full-time employees I now come across as a career consultant and speaker. I did my fair share by seeking higher salaries, year-end bonuses, stock options, benefits. . . the list continues. I loved the idea of earning enough to live comfortably in downtown San Francisco or provide a good meal for my friends and family. When you’re earning a high salary and accumulating material wealth, it’s only natural to feel like you’ve “succeeded.”
However, I realized very quickly that material assets and income were only a very small part of what really mattered to my overall happiness. Especially after I got married and became a father, my perception of wealth changed dramatically. I began to realize that lifestyle wealth, rather than a wealthy lifestyle, led to more happiness in my life.
Other types of wealth
I define lifestyle wealth as having three components.
First, freedom. When I worked for an established company, organizational stability, predictability and a steady monthly salary comforted me. However, over time, I became more focused on the freedom to do the work I really cared about. Freedom to have a flexible work schedule. Freedom to conduct my work as I please rather than simply following the conventions of my organization.
Second, quality time with the people I love. In the past, my priority was to be visible in the office, to have enough facetime with my manager and my colleagues. I didn’t mind working long hours and weekends if it meant I could further accelerate my career progression within an organization. Now, although I’m probably more motivated and focused than ever in my career, I value my time off work as much as my time on the job. I cherish being able to spend quality time with my wife. I love being able to pick up and drop off my daughter before and after school and read her a bedtime story on weekdays and weekends. I appreciate the possibility of taking a long trip to spend time with my mother in the United States or to visit friends who live abroad, which was more difficult when I was employed in the world of company.
Finally, control of my own destiny. While I used to enjoy the stability and steady pay that my full-time corporate job offered, I was always acutely aware that I was at the mercy of the company I worked for. . If a reorganization happened, all I could do was hope that I wouldn’t be negatively affected. If one of my projects was deprioritized, there was not much I could do about it. Now, while running my own business certainly has its fair share of volatility and unpredictability, I at least feel like I can navigate myself through these tough times. If something isn’t working, I can try to pivot or approach things differently.
Balance your needs and wants
I’m not saying money doesn’t matter. No amount of freedom and rewarding relationships can compensate for the stress that comes from struggling to make ends meet. Earning a salary that allows you to have the standard of living you want is essential to your well-being, your stability and your mental health.
However, it is essential to take a step back to consider what you really want to have more of in your life so that you can invest your energies and efforts accordingly. What type of wealth did you focus on building? How does this fit with what you want to fill your life with?
Different types of wealth are maximized in different ways. Some, like money and respect, can be increased through education, effort, and commitment. Others like time, autonomy, freedom, and control can only be increased if you take proactive steps to reshape your career that paves the way for those things.
Build Significant Wealth Today
Define what you personally want to have more of. So, make a decision now to start creating more of the wealth you want for your career and life. Your career is not limited to earning a certain salary. It’s about making career choices that bring you personal and professional gratification. So make career choices that allow you to build wealth that makes you truly happy.