Updated: February 28, 2020
How do you see yourself in 5 years?
If you were in a job interview, I’m almost certain that this question will come up along the way.
And because it is such a common question that employers ask, you probably have a ready response to it – a reply that would help you get the position you’re applying for, instead of a candid but honest answer on how you want your future to be.
But we’re not in a job interview and you’re not applying for a position in a company.
So I challenge you today, to answer this question. But let’s stretch it a bit further, and define your life goals not just for the next 5 years, but for the next 20 years.
Give yourself a minute and define your “ultimate” life goals, then continue reading below.
When I asked my friends this question, these are the top common answers they gave:
- In the future, I will no longer be an employee. I will be my own boss, working for myself, in a company that I built.
- In the future, I will be a millionaire. I will have a lot of money, and I can buy everything I need and want.
- In the future, I will be financially free. I will retire with enough money to enjoy life and do anything I want.
Are these your answers as well? If so, then let me tell you something you should know.
These life goals will make you rich, but not necessarily happy.
Yes, you read it right.
Pursuing these objectives will not make you rich AND happy. Yes, you will be rich – but you will probably be unhappy with your life.
I will explain the reasons why, and more importantly, give you how you can make your life goals better, especially if you want both wealth and happiness.
Read the rest of this article with an open mind, and see if it will make sense to you.
I will no longer be an employee. I will be my own boss, working for myself, in a company that I built.
William is an interior designer. He used to work in a design firm, but decided to quit his job because he felt that his creativity is being suppressed by his boss.
He became a freelancer, and began taking his own projects. After a few months, he felt happier, but he also felt exhausted most of the time. After all, it’s not easy to be a “one-man-team”.
So he decided to put up his own interior design company. The mountain load of work he used to have was now divided among his staff, and he felt relieved.
However, after a couple of years, he felt bored and wanted to do something else. He still liked doing interior design, but he doesn’t want that to be the only thing he does.
He wanted to travel, learn how to paint, explore photography, and many more. But his company needs him, to approve proposals, to sign checks, to preside meetings… in short, to do the job of a boss.
William is rich, but he is unhappy. Why?
Because technically, he is still an employee – an employee in his own business. He may be the big boss and holds the highest position in the company, but he is still burdened with responsibilities.
William needs to become the business owner, not the boss nor the employee.
A business owner has time freedom. He doesn’t need to show himself in the office everyday for the company to function properly.
He can go on a one-month trip to a remote beach destination without worry that he will find his business in shambles when he comes back.
Yes, he can still work in the company, but that’s because he wants to, not because he needs to. And if ever he gets an itch to do something else, there will be no business responsibilities to hold him back.
I will be a millionaire. I will have a lot of money, and I can buy everything I need and want.
Christine couldn’t believe her luck and had to pinch herself just to make sure she’s not dreaming. Yes, it was all real – she has just won the lotto jackpot.
Fortunately, she is aware of the horror stories of lottery winners who lost everything after a few years, and she promised herself she wouldn’t end up like them.
After careful planning, she was able to buy a house for herself, purchase a modest car to drive around, get franchise a business for steady cashflow and invest in rental properties for passive income.
Christine’s wealth is sure to stay, and she knows it. She’s a millionaire, and she’ll be one for the rest of her life. But she feels empty inside.
Christine is rich, but she is unhappy. Why?
Because she’s too focused on her money, and not her life. She’s too busy managing her wealth, buying things that she needs and wants, that she has forgotten how to live.
Christine needs to invest on life experiences, and not just on assets.
Money is a neutral entity. It will not make you happy nor miserable. It is simply a tool that will make your life more comfortable and make things more accessible.
To become a millionaire should not be your ultimate goal, rather – it is to find meaning and self-fulfillment.
Work hard, save, invest and grow your wealth, but don’t stop there.
Use your money to experience life with your family, friends and loved ones. More importantly, use it to help others and to contribute something useful to the world.
I will be financially free. I will retire with enough money to enjoy life and do anything I want.
John will be 60 years old next month, and has decided to finally retire from work.
With millions in his retirement account, he is excited to finally live the life he imagined and enjoy financial freedom.
He takes out his bucket list, a list he has written over the years, and reads the very first item: “Learn how to dance the Tango in Argentina.”
He remembers writing that one down decades ago. Then he smiles and decides to cross it off his list because he can’t afford to do it anymore, given his kneecap injury from a few years back.
Next on the list was “Go sky diving in New Zealand”. While he can technically still do this, he crosses it off too because the idea doesn’t excite him as much anymore.
One by one, he goes through his bucket list, crossing off items he can’t do anymore, as well as those that have lost its novelty and appeal.
“Go bungee jumping in Macau” – nah!
“See the Eiffel tower in France” – boring!
“Experience being chased by bulls in Spain” – nope!
After almost an hour, his 100+ list has shrunk to 20 items. He suddenly feels regret.
John is rich, but he is unhappy. Why?
John needs to let go of the past, and start living his life.
Preparing for retirement is a necessity, but it doesn’t mean you should defer living your life until that time.
Your young and productive years are not exclusively reserved for working, it is also the time to do the things which excite you, to seize the moments and live your life to the fullest.
Your dreams have deadlines, and it’s not enough to just define them – you need to decide on the date.
More importantly, and especially for John, you need to realize that bucket lists are always a work in progress. It is never finished until you take your last breathe.
How To Become Rich AND Happy
Wealth is relative.
A man with one million dollars is a rich person if you ask a homeless beggar, but a top Hollywood celebrity would probably think otherwise.
Happiness is also relative.
To a friend, eating bacon dipped in milk chocolate is like being in heaven, but force a vegan to eat this and he’ll think it’s the worst experience of his life.
Wealth and happiness depends on your definition and design.
Too often, we count our achievements against others and anchor our goals on other people’s measure of success. If you do this, you’ll only be disappointed.
Wealth is not a specific number in your bank account, it is defined by your ability to afford your dreams.
Happiness, on the other hand, is not a simple destination, it is a cycle of experiences that you pursue throughout your life.
To combine both means using money simply as a tool – a means that provide the necessary time, resources, mobility and access that will allow you to invest in memories and life experiences.
And that is how you become rich AND happy.