Wealth Does Not Equal Success In Life

December 1, 2009

Categories: Lifestyle Design

There is a common misconception out there that wealth = success. In today’s capitalistic society, we often measure our success and self-worth by our assets and income. Those that have the fancy BMW are somehow perceived as more successful than those with a Honda Accord. It is an easy trap to get into. Monetary value is the easiest thing to calculate…but…it only shows the face value of someone’s life. Unfortunately, true success is not measured by a dollar value. True success is defined by the individual as they go through life looking, searching and bleeding for the happiest and healthiest way to take each waking step.

What Is Real Success?

Most people would be surprised how “rich” some people really are. With a society that condones being debt loaded to the tilt, many of these perceived successful people are really a stack of cards ready to fall with the slightest bit of breeze or unexpected event. So the real question becomes…what do I consider successful? Here are my notes on success.

  • Real success has nothing to do with monetary value…rather the quality of life you create for yourself.
  • Living a happy and healthy life is much more important than the big house.
  • Spending time with friends and family will bring you more rewards than a physical object.
  • Sometimes less is more.
  • There will always be something bigger, better and different.
  • The key to happiness is enjoying what you have instead of worrying about what you don’t.
  • Helping others is the key to long-term success both professionally and in life.
  • Some of the most successful people in life…are actually some of the poorest.
  • Life is about experiences…not material possessions.
  • Money makes things easier…but not happier. True happiness is found within.
  • Sometimes the best things in life take the largest sacrifices.
  • Nothing good comes without work.
  • Those that constantly stick their hand out looking for something for free…will always have their hand out.
  • You can measure some people life success by how often they smile in a day.
  • Real success has no room for large egos.
  • Each person’s definition of success in their own life is completely different and can not be defined or measured by another.
  • Those that measure the success of others, typically forget to measure themselves.
  • Having material possessions is not a bad thing…measuring your life by them is.
  • You need to define what you consider success before you can achieve it.

As you can see by my notes…success is a complicated beast that is not measured by what you have…but how you live.

16 thoughts on “Wealth Does Not Equal Success In Life

  • Rob

    I agree with you Robb. Success is not defined by how much income you bring or a fancy house you live in. It’s defined by how happy you really are and how you value life.

    • Robb Sutton

      “How you value life” = right on point!

  • KNau

    I like Tim Ferris’ (4 Hour Work Week) philosophy that “time” needs to be factored in the definition of wealth.

    It’s no good making millions of dollars if all of your available time is spent at meetings.

    • Robb Sutton

      I know a lot of people that have plenty of money but are very unhappy because their work rules their life. No thanks.

  • Herbert

    Success is a journey, not a destination. 🙂 A bit cliche for my liking, but still a very important point that a lot of people just seem to brush off too quickly.

    • Robb Sutton

      Cliche…but true.

  • Srinivas Rao

    Hey Rob,

    A year ago when I first started business school I would have wrote your words of idealist bullshit. But, spending my life post business school without a job, finding myself to be an avid surfer, and leaving a job withing 2 weeks after 6 months of searching for one, I realize that you are so right. Success is really defined by you. To me, the most successful life I could live is

    1)Spend my life being a writer
    2)Surf as much as possible
    3)Travel around the world
    4)Meet lots of new people

    So, it may not make me a millionaire, but 100k a year doing that would make much happier than 1 million a year stuck in an office.

    • Robb Sutton

      The trick is finding that income level that lets you accomplish the experiences you want to get out of life…and then finding out how to get that income level without giving away your life to someone else. Typically…that means you need to create that income yourself rather than have someone else determine what it should be for you.

      I wouldn’t mind traveling the world surfing either!

  • Brad Edgar

    Robb,

    It’s funny because I have been battling trying to get my blog up and running and it’s funny how easy it is to forget about the things that are truly important in our life like our loved ones.

    We need to balance our personal lives, with our work, our fitness, our heath, our family whatever it may be. Some things obviously take precedence over others (i.e. our health).

    • Robb Sutton

      You’re not the only one that struggles with that. Especially when I have big projects I am trying to launch…I have to really focus on balancing my time. Everything else is nothing if I don’t have my friends and family.

  • Antti Kokkonen

    It’s a hard lesson to learn to value time over money. Value experiences over the stuff you buy. But when you do, you’ve taken a step closer to true happiness. People who find that balance are the ones I consider to be successful.

    Couple of months ago I wrote about similar subject, You Don’t Have to Be Rich, Just Rich Enough, with the idea that being rich has nothing to do with MONEY, but with TIME instead. I believe being rich, or being successful, can be “measured” by looking at how much time you spend on things you love, things you’re passionate about and things you really want to do. If I’d be working 80 hours a week and make millions, I wouldn’t be rich. Some might consider that as some sort of success, but I’d be stressed and soon burned out.

    So don’t look at dollars/euros/etc when thinking how successful you are, look at the hours you have with your family and friends, and the hours you are free to spend on the things you really like to do.

    • Robb Sutton

      People are generally happier when they make that balance and distinction as well.

  • Mike

    Hey, I like my Honda Accord!

    I would be nice to be rich. I have long-long term goals of a huge house, nice car. But I think I’d be more happy if I was able to worry less about living paycheck to paycheck. That and being my own boss, working on things that I was passionate about would be keys to my happiness.

    • Robb Sutton

      They are great cars!

      Get that list up and running…you will be really surprised at the result.

      • Mike

        Sat down today and really made some detailed goals and made some serious plans. Feeling pretty positive about this.

  • Ryan

    Hi Robb,

    Success is being happy. It’s that simple. The goal in life is to first be happy and let everything else grow out of your happiness. You’ll have plenty of what you direct your mind towards – money, homes, BMW M3’s (;) – when you are happy. You’ll be able to do the most for others when you’re happy. This is because you’ll have a passion for your work.

    We were born happy and were meant to stay happy.

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