“What’s money? ..." - Bob Dylan
Updated: Mar 16
This week's Monday Mojo post reflects on what success really means, and the tendency for us to measure success by the size of our salary package, or money in our bank account.
Yes, that's right, we're going to venture into that space that many people find it uncomfortable to talk about, money. The quote that inspired this post is from modern day poet, Bob Dylan.
“What’s money? A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and goes to bed at night and in between does what he wants to do.” – Bob Dylan
There's no point pretending we don't all need money. And each of us is trying to earn as much as we can in our job - nothing wrong with that. As the saying goes, money can't buy you happiness, but it can stop you being sad.
But the amount we earn should not be seen as the measure of our success. If you were earning a mountain of cash for doing a job you hated, would you regard yourself as successful? What about earning a fantastic salary in a job that meant you rarely saw your family, friends and had no time to do things for you - like travel, exercise, study or just indulge in reading a book for pleasure?
The big question is "Are you doing what you want to do?" No? If your job is not your dream job and it's just an income, does it give you the time and space to do things you want to do? No? So, when do you make time for doing the things you want to do?
Everything in work and life is about balance. You need to survive, so you need an income. You need to be happy and healthy, so you need to have time to do things you want to do for you. You have a lifestyle that you like and expect, so you need to earn enough to sustain it - living ain't cheap. Getting all these elements in balance can seem almost impossible.
When it seems impossible, we say things like "I'll do this job for the next few years to earn as much as I can, and then I'll leave to do something for me." Then 10 or so years pass, and you are still in that job, or you have been promoted to a bigger job that you don't enjoy. Your lifestyle is such that you can't afford to take a pay cut, so you double down for "a few more years" and put off that idea of doing something you want to do, for a bigger income.
After all, you can afford to live very comfortably; you have status; title; and to everyone else you look hugely successful. Maybe doing what you want to do is not that important...
Here's another question - If you were offered the job of your dreams but it required you to take a big pay cut and downsize your lifestyle would you take it?
If not, why not?
Don't want to adjust your lifestyle?
Worried about what your friends, family and colleagues might think?
Is the career you have sacrificed so much to build too hard to give up (even if it's not what you want to do)?
It all gets down to what we mean by success. I think Dylan has it right, and on this point, I can talk from personal experience. While leaving a high-profile corporate career did not give me 100% freedom to do what I wanted, it gave me enough flexibility that it has allowed me to do more of what I want and avoid doing what I don't want to do. And I feel much more successful, even though I know I can earn more in a corporate gig.
I like to think that I'm moving more and more to my goal of being able to do what I want to do between the time I wake up, and the time I go to bed. ;-)
As Dolly Parton said, “Don't get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.”
Have a great week!