When you read articles and tips from successful people, one of their advice is usually “Don’t chase the money. Follow your passion and the money will follow!” Many times I, as a normal person without a million dollar enterprise, will scoff at these comments. “Easy for you to say, you’ve already made the money!”
I remember reading something online that pokes fun at the current market. It said “Do what you love and you will never work a day in your life because you’ll likely be unemployed.”
While chasing your passion and making money at the same time can be considered the ultimate goal, not many achieve that. Many amongst us make enough to live comfortably or even live paycheck to paycheck. No one should deny that money is important in the world today like I did back in my younger adulthood.
Chase the money
The term “Chasing the Money” means that your priority is to make as much money as possible within a certain timeframe. This means trading time for money and the key here is limiting this “time”. It becomes disastrous if you become drawn into a perpetual state of working for money with no end in sight.
I don’t know if I’ll open a can of worms but I think everyone should chase the money at some point in life. This is especially true if you’re young with the vigour and energy for the hunt. That being said, you don’t have to be young to do it.
A lot of the working class are doing this without realising it; we usually rationalise it as trying to get a reward for our hard work. A lot of people value themselves highly; some go so far as to go into debt for the “rich” image. Those that have it hardest are the ones who are scraping by with barely enough to last until the next pay day.
So how do you chase the money?
Depending on your job and career choice, the difficulty of doing this differs. This is mainly due to the differing opportunities that are available in each job sector.
Sales is a great way to earn a lot. This correlates to your ability to pull off a sale, though. Meaning if you don’t sell, you don’t get anything. But with the difficulty comes the reward of commissions. Commissions are when you get paid in a percentage of the product you sold. Literally how well you perform translates to how much you earn.
This is the most common way to chase the money! We look at the paycheck and strive to get more. This is usually achieved through job hopping and skillful negotiations for promotions.
Chasing the money using businesses is usually a bad idea because of start up costs. While this is doable, it’s not the best method unless you have a good venture, as you’ll likely not earn much or even lose money.
In a nutshell
Get a job, any job and start earning money. That’s where your starting line is. Some money is better than no money and in our current economic climate, any money is good. Just make sure it’s legal and don’t get yourself in trouble dabbling in hanky-panky activities.
I started my chase looking for a big paycheck. Being a university graduate, I naïvely thought offers would flood in like Hogwarts’ letters to Harry Potter:
In my pretty much lacklustre stint in insurance and teaching, I was only focused on “getting a real job” not realising I was already in one! I wasn’t looking at what I was doing as a process or as a service others required. I was only looking at the dollar value. Therefore, my unfortunate chase was already afoot.
Once I landed a full-time gig, I was ecstatic! “Finally, a pay scale I wanted!” I thought. But after a while, I began becoming bored; I was advised by my then-boss that real life was not like the movies. What he meant was there’s no scene-cut to the next interesting bit. I understood this but I couldn’t help but feel something was missing or at least lacking.
After a while, I got dragged into public service and while salary increased, I very quickly reached my breaking point. Before entry, I had a strong gut feeling that this career wasn’t for me but urged by those around me, I gave it a shot. Life was never the same after that. Stress, pressure and absurd rules pushed me to the limit that I literally hated life at that point.
Looking through the window into my world, many do not understand the things that we had and still need to go through. As usual, people see the dollar value, which nonetheless, is pretty good by Brunei standards. What can’t be seen are the actual work, emotional and psychological matrices that come with it.
So now I continue to do the best I can; restrained by the Golden Handcuff until who knows when. What I learned and what I experienced so far, I shall share with you.
End result of the chase
So what do you actually get if you went and chased the money for years of your working life? Personally, it was the realisation of what matters and what I truly wanted out of life. In my early adulthood, I tried different jobs and even job-hopped a little to get a higher salary. On this little journey, I experienced a shock to how little I knew what I wanted.
On the plus side, you’ll likely have made a shiny coin if you played your cards right. If you hustled hard, you would likely have achieved something either in terms of career or a solid pay. But even then, this was double-edged.
Here are what I experienced and maybe you can learn from:
1. Working for money is hell
If you are in the workforce, you are already living trading time for money. While this is not intrinsically bad, if you don’t see any purpose in what you do, it will take its toll. How often do people wake up looking forward to their 8 to 5 ritual? Not that many unless they see a significance in their job and/or the direct superior is good.
It is easier to burn out from tasks that you don’t feel passionate about; or at least feel it’s not important to you personally.
2. Money alone won’t give satisfaction
Just because you were able to earn more money doesn’t mean you’ll be happier. Satisfaction for me comes from how much I can see myself growing. On the horizon, if both personal and financial growth stagnates, it’s a big red flag for me.
Blindly chasing the money will in turn bite back when you realise that at one point, the lack of satisfaction has a higher price tag on your happiness. A price which (surprise!) doesn’t get paid with money! For many, the job that brings in the big money might just be super soul sucking.
3. Loved ones matter more
It’s easy to proclaim that you put family and friends first but when you start chasing the money, they will come second. In the end, you’re trading more time for money than time for bonding. A strong realisation I came to was that time lost from chasing money is emotionally straining. This is also causes negative emotions to spill onto others at times too.
It feels a little tragic and funny if I think about how fickle the human mind is to be so easily affected by the prospect of wealth.
4. What’s important to you
When you start burning out, your thoughts will drift to your ideal life. It could be fishing in the afternoon or playing games into the night. I realised how much I loved and needed freedom; once restrained I become irritable and uncompromising. Regardless, if you reflect on this kinds of realisation, you have a high chance of finding your passion or something which you feel strongly about. Perhaps strong enough to want to do something about it.
5. You WILL burn out
To chase the money is to jump on the hamster wheel and run non-stop. Meaning your fixation will sooner or later burn you out because the only motivation is money. When this happens and you fall into a rut, the negative thoughts will in turn become a quarter/mid-life crisis. This existential-level crisis will make you question “Is this what I’ll be doing forever?” and “Is this all there is to life?”
A good counter to this is to have non-career related activities in your life to detach from your ham$ter-wheel.
6. It will never be enough
No matter how much we earn, as long as we chase the money, it will never be enough. This is possibly from a combination of lifestyle inflation and the mentality of “I want more!”. The more we earn, the more we’re more likely to spend. As long as we run the wheel, we will always look for more and not less.
Why chase the money?
So why would I advocate this obviously contradicting advice? Because people never learn. They have to feel it; the pain, blood, sweat and tears, before it all sinks in. A majority of the most crucial moments in our lives were experiences where we think we know better. This is most obvious with regards to parental advice; we realise down the road that they weren’t just trying to meddle in your affairs.
But honestly, a lot of us chase the money coming into the work force whether we know it or not. We look for avenues which gives us the fastest road to riches. From job-hopping to climbing the ladder, there are many ways in which we attempt this. The end product is usually higher income because that’s what we put our focus on. Beyond financial gains, it is up to the individual to gauge if that’s what makes them happy.
There MUST be a point where you think “This. This is enough and fine.” and that’s where you stop chasing. Cash out of the race and focus on developing what’s important to you. Your fishing skills, your relationship with your significant other or something else. Knowing how to live within your means is an important skill we need to avoid hyperinflating our lifestyles.
And finally, always be smart about opportunities and don’t let greed blind us. That way we are less likely to fall for financial scams which could set us back significantly.
While chasing the money is advocated against by financial gurus, I think it’s an excellent experience. That is, as long as the individual knows when to stop and reflect. Chasing the money all your life would likely end in disappointment because it will never be enough.
Personally, I have come to the point where I’m wondering if there is a way to earn the most without selling my soul. With the chains of my Golden Handcuffs still strong, it may be a while before something interesting happens.
Nonetheless, if all you want in life is money, no one’s stopping you. On your journey you may discover more about yourself that’s unfathomable now!
People are chasing cash, not happiness. When you chase money, you’re going to lose. You’re just going to. Even if you get the money, you’re not going to be happy.
– Gary Vaynerchuk
But bear in mind different people chase different things. And what we chase are often what defines us.