A Moment of Self-Reflection About What Money Can’t Buy

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Don't forget about what money can't buy

I’m going to be the first to admit that I work too much. For years I have been hustling and grinding in order to achieve success. How did I measure success? Money!  It seems cliche, but I’ve attributed success with having money. For too many years, I thought having flashy things made me a success, like a big house, nice car, and fancy clothes. When I got out of credit card debt, I realized things don’t make you successful, but still kept the dream of having a lot of money. I don’t believe in get-rich-quick ideas. I believe in working hard and hustling for my money.

Ever since college, I’ve pushed extra to earn more. Yes, I have a college degree and consider myself well-educated. The thing is that college didn’t get me where I am today. I got me where I am today. I used the tools around me to achieve what I have. My degree was and still is a tool, but my dedication and hard work got me where I am. I work for myself now. I only answer to one man each and every day. I love what I do for a living, but truth be told, it can be extremely hard sometimes. You have good days and bad. You realize you’re now responsible for bringing home the bacon even when you’re sick, tired, or are having an off day. Your paychecks aren’t steady and you have to market yourself to anyone who will listen. Running a business is no picnic!

Ever since I started a blog, I’ve been working hard. I went to my day job, came home, and then jumped onto my computer to blog. This blog is nearly four years old. Before blogging, I did the same thing with my e-commerce company. I get immersed in everything that needs to get done. I love doing the work and seeing the results. There is a joy in it for sure. While I took some time off after the e-commerce company, I couldn’t stay away from blogging. Every since this blog first started, I’ve worked nights and weekends to help it grow. This blog has helped spawn a successful service business that I’m very proud of. It’s been something I smile about each and every day. Who knew a blog could lead to such great things?

There’s No More Time

As noted above, I work too much. I’m a night owl for sure, but my customers need me during the day. My blog and services are like two full-time jobs needing all of my attention. I’m good at multi-tasking, but there is only so much I can take on. I’ve started getting help for this blog, but my service business is built on my knowledge and my customer service. That business is built around me doing what I do best. It’s much harder to outsource and I think that would do me a disservice and one for my customers as well. I wouldn’t do that.

Over the last few months, I’ve realized I just needed more time in a day. Unfortunately, there are only 24. That number is never going to change. I have to accept it and work around the confines of time.

I’m extremely happy for what I’ve built and what I’ve done, but realized that the goal I was striving for was wrong. I was focusing on making more money to build my net worth. I wanted to be viewed as successful and thought money was the answer. I’ve found out I was completely wrong and my beautiful wife helped me realize this.

Money never made a man happy yet, nor will it. There is nothing in its nature to produce happiness. The more a man has, the more he wants. Instead of filling a vacuum, it makes one.

~Benjamin Franklin

What is Success?

If you weren’t aware, I’m a husband, father of one toddler, and we have another on the way. I love my family and would do anything for them. For too long, I thought providing for them monetarily was the best way I could show my love. I work hard for them. I bust my ass for them. I hustle until midnight for them. In the back of my mind, I knew that bringing in more money would make it easier on us. Sure, more money can do wonders for a family. The problem is realizing when enough is enough.

Why do we strive to earn more and more? Do we need it to support our family or to support our desire for more things? If everything stays the same, why can $40,000 support you one year, but you need to make $70,000 the next to get by? What are we doing with our money? I think it’s just lifestyle inflation. We use the money we make to buy more stuff. I’ve been guilty of this. Hell, I was even using money I didn’t have to buy more stuff. Credit card debt anyone?

Again, I labeled success by the amount of stuff I had. I even financed a Jetski on credit because I thought it made me look like a success. Just so you know, I was wrong!

I pushed through the “things” part of my life, but still focused on money. I wanted to have more money. I yearned for it and it was consuming me. I wanted to be successful and money was going to get me there. Boy, I haven’t been so wrong.

Success isn’t measured by money. It’s different for everyone, but I think success should be measured by what you do, not what you earn. I think I’m a good businessman, good friend, good brother, and son. I also think I’m a good father and husband. The problem is I don’t settle for good. I want to be great. While I’m supporting my family financially, I’m not supporting them where it counts the most. Memories.

My wife and I in Boone
My wife and I in Boone

I’m Redefining Success

My lovely wife swept me away this past weekend to enjoy some rest and relaxation in our old college town. It’s in the mountains of North Carolina, a place we truly love to be. We hope to retire in the mountains at some point in time. If she hadn’t surprised me, I would have never taken the initiative to get out there. I’ve been so focused on work and earning more money that I’d lost focus on my family.

This hurts me deep inside. I wear my heart on my sleeve and am not afraid to show my emotions. I can be tough as nails when I need to be, but could care less if I shed a tear.

My son is three years old and always wants to play with me. He’s my little buddy and a spitting image of me. I love him with all my heart and he changed my life when he was born. I can’t image what I’d do without him. I hope the same for the next child. Having said all of this, I heard this song played twice in the past week and once when I was driving through the mountains with my wife. You can take a listen below.

YouTube video

See, we didn’t take my son on this trip because we both needed some time with each other. I know other parents of toddlers will understand. This is especially true since we have one coming in a few months. As we were driving through the mountains to check out some sights, this song hit the radio for the second time in one week. I don’t know why, but I was meant to hear it for a reason.

I can’t confirm or deny, but there might have been a bag of cut onions in the car, as my eyes were filled with tears. This song struck me right where it needed to.

What I’ve been doing all these years is all wrong. I’ve been focused on growing my income, earning more, and seeing my bank account and net worth increase (thanks Personal Capital for the free tracking!). I thought money was success, but that’s not it at all. You can’t take money with you when you’re gone. Money isn’t what’s most important in this world. It’s what you do with your friends and family that should define your success.

Time is more valuable than money. You can get more money, but you cannot get more time.

~Jim Rohn

My New Goals

The goals I’ve had for myself this year were pretty simple. I wanted to grow my business, increase my income, and get my basement office finished. Since my basement office is being worked on, I will cross that off my list.

No where in those goals did I focus on what I wanted to do with my family. Do I want to travel? Take my son to a hockey game? Enjoy more date nights with my wife? Take days off and skip daycare so I can play with my son? Those are good goals, but they weren’t on my list. I focused too much on money.

I earn a good living doing what I do. I won’t beat around the bush there. I’ve earned more in the past three months than what most people make in one year. I’m happy with what I’ve achieved and I worked hard for it. The issue is why strive to earn more? Why do I need more money? I need more memories with my family. I need to spend time with my loved ones and show them I care. Memories last a lifetime. Money is earned and lost daily.

This past weekend opened my eyes to a lot of things. While I will still work hard for my money, I won’t let it consume me. I don’t need to earn more and keep trying to grow my income. I don’t need it. I need my family. I need to create awesome memories and a great father. I don’t want my son to be a client and have to pay me for my time. He gets my time for free and he should be on my schedule each and every day. So should my wife.

Without her, none of this would be possible. She gave me the greatest gift anyone could. She is about to give me another. For that, I thank her. But, she has given me so much more that she might not realize. She thought this weekend was just going to be some R&R and time alone, but it was an eye-opening weekend for me. It showed me what I was doing wrong and where I needed to focus my attention. She is my rock and keeps this household running smoothly.

It’s amazing what can come out of a little break away from the grind. Sometimes you get stuck in your ways and don’ realize you’re veering off on the wrong path.  My attention was on the money. I needed it to measure my success, but that was all wrong. No one cares how much money I have in my bank account. I shouldn’t care. My success should be measured on what I do for my family beyond the monetary value. That is what I need to work on. That is what I need to strive for.

It’s good to have money and the things that money can buy, but it’s good, too, to check up once in a while and make sure that you haven’t lost the things that money can’t buy.

~George Lorimer

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  1. Great post G – sounds like we’re going through some similar stuff right now. Kudos to you for being open to changing your habits and your goals. I hope to follow your footsteps and stop saying yes to everything… 😉

    1. Thanks Gina. It was a good weekend for me and I’m glad I got to see it now. We all work hard, but we have to remember what we work for.

  2. I was forced to take two days off because I had no internet (yes, unimaginable), but it really made me realize how little time I spent playing with my son together with my husband. We promptly took him to the park and I slept so well that night!