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I’ve been thinking a lot about success. I’m not quite in a mid-life crisis, but I reevaluate my definition of success from time to time. When I was younger, I thought success was the combination of a wife, some kids, a nice home, an expensive car, and a net worth of a million dollars.
Now that I’m older and have reached some of those goals, my definition of success has changed. Sure, having family is important to me, but some of the other aspects aren’t as important to me as I thought they would be.
Recently, I came across a great infographic, by ThermoSoft. They interviewed 2,000 Americans on what success meant to them. They compared and contrasted their current situations, the “now”, versus success “making it” in the future. The results were eye-opening.
Right off the bat, they discussed success in terms of money. “Making it” meant having a salary of $147,104. That was nearly 3x what the average respondent currently makes.
On top of that, the average respondent thought “making it” meant being able to:
- Afford medical bills.
- Loan money to friends and family.
- Contribute large amounts of money to charities.
Personally, those probably wouldn’t be on my list. Not that I’m against any of that, but “making it” for me would probably be not worry about money anymore. I would be able to buy virtually anything, whenever, no matter what the cost. I’m not anywhere close to that right now.
The most shocking part of this money graphic was that 77% wouldn’t want more than $1 million if they were offered it. To me, this doesn’t pass the sniff test. Or, I must be in the minority. If somebody is offering free money without a catch, I would have a serious problem turning it down.
This one really baffled me.
The current average household value of these respondents is $248,000. In order to “make it”, the value of the home needs to nearly double to $461,000. In contrast, the average car value is $15,789, but to “make it”, this would need to nearly triple to $41,986. What does it say about us that we want to triple a depreciating asset like a car, but only double an asset that is more prone to appreciating, like a house?
Personally, I think this is a little backwards. I would much rather triple my house value rather than my car value, but to each their own. Plus, if you buy a used car, you can enjoy the benefits of an affordable car while not compromising on reliability.
This was an eye-opener for me. I had no idea that the Northeast was so hungry for fame, while the West Coast was so hungry for wealth. I would have thought that it would have been flipped, given Hollywood’s location. Maybe Silicon Valley may have generated the skew towards more wealth. Then I also remembered Broadway in NYC, so that makes a little more sense.
The flyover states interestingly enough want more more respect and recognition. Having never lived in the Midwest, I don’t have any experience with this. However, I do think at times both coasts receive too much attention.
Finally, the Southeast wants to have less responsibility in life. This shouldn’t be all that surprising with the number of retirees in Florida and the rest of the Southeast. Plus, who wouldn’t want to drink sweet tea and watch the sunset on the front porch every evening?
Let’s say you make it. What would you do with your time? I know that I’d like to pursue my passion of personal finance full-time. I love sharing with people how to optimize their situations, so I’d continue to work, albeit at my own pace. Interestingly enough, it appears that most men would like to relax, while women would like to help those in need.
I’m sure it won’t surprise any of you in the Rockies, but people around there would like to explore more, while those in the Northeast would like to continue working.
The stat that most warmed my heart was that the #1 way that people would like to spend their time is with friends and family. This is such an important aspect to me. It’s why I’m so thankful to live close to family. Because of that, I don’t have to wait for retirement to spend more time with them.
Haven’t Made It?
Finally, the survey asked respondents why they hadn’t “made it” yet. Two-thirds said that they hadn’t achieved the necessary income level.
If these people are anything like me, the goal posts for income will move. I remember I had a certain number that I wanted to reach when I first graduated from college. After I reached that number, I decided that I wanted more. I’ll be surprised if the “making it” income level doesn’t change at least once, if not a few times, for them.
22% reported that they hadn’t landed their dream job yet. Not surprisingly, more men look for their dream job, while women seek more money.
I’m in that boat with my fellow men. As I mentioned above, my dream job would be doing financial education full-time. I would love to do more around personal finance/coaching, but I haven’t landed enough clients to make a full-time go of it. I’m working on it, but I still have awhile to go. If you’re interested in working with me, click on my contact page for more information!
“Making it” means different things to different people. But, in general, people want more money and want to land their dream job, while receiving the respect and recognition that they deserve. That should all be achievable, right?