I remember a phone call I had when I was around 27 years old. I had just been promoted to a Vice President role at a Fortune 500 company, and was put in charge of a sales territory with a goal of over $100 Million in annual sales.
It was a pretty exciting time in my life, professionally, and many of my closest friends were calling to congratulate me.
One friend in particular opened up to me about how my promotion had given him a jolt to his competitive side, making him want to catch up and get his next promotion. He was absolutely happy for my success, but he was now motivated to achieve the next step in his own career.
A good portion of my close friends have a healthy competitiveness with one another. We are always pushing each other to excel and reach the “next level.”
My friend told me that he realized for a few years he had been the top dog when it came to earnings amongst most of his friends, and now that I had moved passed him, he wanted to make a move to regain his position.
At the time of our conversation, I knew exactly what my friend was feeling. It’s a mix of happiness for someone you care about, but also that competitive feeling that kicks you in the butt and makes you work a little harder.
But is this necessary in the world of wealth building? How much competition is too much?
Is there a level when amassing more wealth is no longer a good goal?
The “keeping up with the Joneses” mentality forces many people to compare themselves to those around them without thinking if it is even relevant to their situation.
And to add to this “missing out” mindset, people like my friends and me, who are quite competitive, end up driving each other to work harder and harder to outpace others they see who are doing well.
But when does it end?
HOW MUCH IS TOO MUCH?
The other day I was listening to an episode of the ever-popular Tim Ferriss Show Podcast, and one of the guests said something that struck a chord and made me think back to this conversation.
I started to think about how long this cycle would continue for people if not checked.
My thought was, “At what point in the wealth-building process have you gone too far?”
Is it possible to amass too much wealth?
At first read, you might think to yourself, “That is crazy! How could you amass ‘too much’ wealth, Jared?”
For those who have read many of my past articles, you’ll know that I’m a big advocate of understanding why you are amassing wealth.
Financial Planning and wealth-building are about increasing the quality of your life, not the size of your bank account.
WORKING TO LIVE
I’m sure you’ve heard people say that they “work to live, not live to work.”
This mentality appropriately articulates the point I’m trying to get across in this blog post.
If you had Financial Freedom, would you work?
You’d probably do something, but for most people, it isn’t their current job. You’d probably do whatever it is you are interested in doing and would truly enjoy.
So, if you are now working toward financial freedom, your goal isn’t to amass more and more money, it’s to get to a certain place that allows you to do what it is that you truly care about. It’s gaining true control over your life and being able to make your own decisions.
Once you’ve reached this point, financially, there is no reason to amass more wealth.
Any additional time spent working and earning more income and wealth is just time spent away from doing what it is that you truly enjoy.
This obviously assumes that the way you earn money isn’t already perfectly aligned with what you love to do. If that is the case, great for you! But that is the exception to the rule for most.
$100 MILLION IN THE BANK
The other day I was driving back from a weekend with my siblings and was discussing this idea with my sister. I was trying to explain that for most people, there is absolutely no need to amass some crazy fortune, like $100 million.
She said she’d love to have that amount.
When I asked her what she’d do with it she stated, “I’d be able to stop worrying about working and I could travel the world.”
But there are people who travel the world full-time, and they have nowhere near this amount of wealth.
We started walking through the quick math on what it would take to simply replace her current income, or even double it, without the need to work.
Let’s say that it was NOWHERE near $100 Million. In fact, she’d be able to do it for around $1 – $2 Million, at most.
This is no small task, but it certainly isn’t $100 million.
In this scenario, if she were to actually amass $100 Million, she would have “wasted” her time amassing the subsequent $98 million above what she needed to live out her dream life.
UNDERSTANDING YOUR WHY
This brings me back to a theme I’ve written about, which is “Understanding your why.” I also recorded a podcast episode on the same topic: “Successful Investing Begins With Understanding Your Why.”
In order for you to know what your goals are, you have to understand your personal why.
Why are you working so hard? Why are you trying to amass wealth? What is its purpose?
If you aren’t clear about your answers to these questions, you could be working hard without a specific destination in mind. Or just as bad, you could be working toward someone else’s goals that you just happened to hear about.
DON’T RUN A NEVER-ENDING RACE
The main point is that wealth-building doesn’t have to be a race that never ends, and it doesn’t even have to be a competition.
The only thing you should be focusing on is improving the quality of your own life, the lives of the ones you love, and hopefully helping some others along the way.
But if you aren’t clear about exactly what you’re working so hard for, you might continue working far past where you needed to, and end up wasting a lot of time you could have spent enjoying the life you’ve always wanted.