We’re taught that annual salary/’the amount of wealth’ we have is something that matters, so if we’re going to devote our lives towards working towards something, it makes sense to think about it carefully.
If you say “Would you like to be richer?” to people, most people will easily answer “yes”.
Ask people – “How much money (in GBP) do you think is the ideal amount of wealthy?” - say by specifically how much, and it becomes an order of magnitude harder to answer.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about this question is not what is the ideal amount of money, but what you think is the ideal amount of money.
Recently there was an article that at first glance is designed to enrage you (“‘We earn £190k a year. Do we need to sell our flat to afford private school fees?’”) and maybe it does – and yet perhaps there’s a powerful lesson to be learnt: “no matter how much cash you have, you can still be really stressed”.
There’s another lesson there too: “and when you have more than everyone else, people are less sympathetic to your stress”.
Another thing you don’t expect is something Paul Graham mentioned:
And one of the many weird little problems you discover when you get rich is that a lot of the interesting people you’d like to work with are not rich. They need to work at something that pays the bills. Which means if you want to have them as colleagues, you have to work at something that pays the bills too, even though you don’t need to. I think this is what drives a lot of serial entrepreneurs, actually.
You think you can see the upsides, can you also see the downsides?
So it’s worth considering – the question: “How much money (in GBP) do you think is the ideal amount of wealthy?”.
I’ve thought about this question a great deal, and I still don’t know my answer.
Having spoken to people in less economically developed countries who earn an order of magnitude less than me, my sense is that it’s difficult for them to imagine life could be stressful when earning what I do – and when my salary is a 10x multiple of theirs – you can see how it could be tough.
Put in perspective, it seems like the easiest way for me to answer the question isn’t to answer it at all – and to wholly separate wealth from happiness. Whilst this can’t be easy to take to heart, I think this must the right way.
I guess you can link wealth with quality of life, but it seems unwise to link wealth with happiness directly.
For anyone else, it really comes down to the much harder question “What do you want from life?”. “What would you do or want *if* you had tons of cash? Once you know that, you’ll know find it easier to answer this question.
How would you answer it? What do your friends say?
P.s. I think my answer to “What do you want from life” is “an enjoyable journey” – but that’s another blog post