How much money do I need to be happy?
This is a great question – many of us presume that we reach retirement that we then become happy. This is what we are told our whole life.
Most of us go to work for much of our life undertaking a task that is to a greater or lesser extent a compromise. By this, I mean a compromise on our happiness insofar as we would ideally rather be doing something else with our time.
Most of us would not choose to go to work and would rather be doing something else.
We accept that we must go to work however in order to earn money. We are told we need these for expenses and to contribute towards our retirement pot. Basically, we are delaying the supposed point of our happiness for many decades. There is widespread social acceptance of this.
Retirement is the same as financial freedom. The only difference is that the term retirement has the connotation that it is necessary to be old in order to attain it. All financial freedom means is that we do not need to do anything we don’t want to do for money.
If we love our job and would do it regardless of money we may already be free.
Ask yourself this: if someone gave you £100 million would you still go to work?
If so how many days a week would you work? Its fine to say you would still practice a few days a week – all we are doing is establishing how your ideal work/life balance would look by removing money as a factor in your decision making.
For context £100 million is so much money that the odds of you spending it whether you invest it or not are pretty slim. That’s why its a great question to ask yourself.
So in other words you have now found the optimum work life balance. This is how your IDEAL life would look without money as a consideration.
You are now “retired”
Retirement can be defined as “the point at which we stop exchanging present unhappiness for the future promise of being happy.”
Let’s deconstruct that
Remember how we said earlier that most people compromise on their happiness when they go to their jobs? That means they are not as happy as they could be and therefore slightly unhappy to an extent. They are willing to accept this reality in exchange for money.
This money is then used to build a retirement pot at which point they can stop work and supposedly be “happy.”
Therefore they are “exchanging present unhappiness for the future promise of being happy.”
The promise part comes in because as we know there is no guarantee that we’ll live that long or that we’ll be happy when we get there! (who knows what might crop up over the decades!)
The mindset that we have to wait to be happy is something that was made up by someone at some point!
There are three ways to “retire” according to this definition.
- Have enough wealth to sustain our outgoings (we can either win the lottery or put in the work to get the money that we need via investing or gaining the skillset to make great wealth)
- Reduce our outgoings to nothing and therefore have no need for money (become a hermit – not a glamourous life)
- Find the thing that makes us happy in the moment and therefore have no need to wait for the promise of happiness.
Of our options you can see that number 3 is highly preferable.
If dentistry is not that thing that you enjoy yet you need the money – simply increase how much you earn per unit hour so you can reduce your days whilst maintaining your earnings. (Yes – this is totally possible)
Use the extra time to find the thing you DO enjoy in life.
If I could change one thing about our common perception it’s the illusion that we must wait our whole life to be happy. We are socialized to think this and often we never really question it.
Happiness can start TODAY with positive action towards finding the thing we enjoy. In my experience boosting our earnings is the most straightforward way to facilitate this.
This is purely because we can use this extra money to create more time to FIND the thing that makes us happy.
Finding something is purely a function of time +/- a little effort. Finding the thing that makes us happy for the rest of our days is surely worth creating a little time to pursue….