When I was leaving my Boston firm, a partner took me out to coffee and gave me this advice:
“You can live a great and happy life making a lot less money than we do here. You just have to plan for it.”
He went on to share that he’d built a life based on his big law salary – buying a nice house, enrolling kids in private school, etc.
While this partner enjoyed his life, he also felt a little stuck in it. It’s hard to make life changes when you’ve built a life on the assumption you’ll continue to make so much money. You’re a little trapped. And that gets stifling when that swanky job requires long hours and the novelty’s worn off…
Now, the point of this isn’t to say money doesn’t matter. It does. Money’s ability to give us stability, to care for our family, to not make us too reliant on someone else… it all matters.
But on that day, that partner’s admirably candid statement created a crack in the image I had of adulthood and my career:
Making a lot of money isn’t everything. And it doesn’t guarantee happiness.
My takeaways were these:
▻ Make sure you’re making money in a way you’re happy with NOW,
▻ Don’t wait for more money to bring more happiness – it really may not, and
▻ Plan and spend money in a way that still gives you freedom of choice if you change your mind down the road.
I don’t pretend to have this figured out.
Even though I’ve left law, the entrepreneurial world is full of messages of “MAKE MORE MONEY.” Sometimes, it’s easy to get swept up in them – especially when those messages conveniently are silent as to the cost of that fixation.
But, in those moments, that partner’s words ground me.
For me, I try to just come back to the question of – how much money do I really need to bring home to support my family, save, and have fun? And I let that guide how I structure my business and career so I can protect and enjoy the rest of my life.
As I said, I don’t have this figured out. But that partner’s words have been invaluable to me over the past five years, so I pass them on to you in case they can also help you. Let’s intentionally strive for lives we’re really excited to live – right now and down the road.