The Million Dollar Question
Warren Buffett, who Forbes listed in 2018 as the third richest person in the world, has famously said that the right amount of money to leave one’s children is “Enough that they can do anything they want, except nothing.”
That’s what the “The Million Dollar Question” is about: if you were handed a million dollars–which is, of course, a lot of money, but not the kind of money that you could do nothing for the rest of your life–what would you do for a living?
After you’ve paid off your debts and travelled a bit and bought a few toys–let’s say that you’d have $750,000 left. Again–that’s a lot of money! But that isn’t the kind of money that most people could live on for the rest of their lives. With current interest rates, if you put your three-quarters of a million dollars into a savings account, you’d make less than $500 a year. If you lived modestly on your $750K at, say, $40,000 a year, you’d be out of money in less than 20 years.
So, you’d have to look at your money as a “safety net.” Again: you could do almost anything you want for a living, except sit around all day or party all night long.
What would you do? The answer to that question, career counselors would tell you, is probably what you’re going to want to do if you hope to find the greatest fulfillment in your professional life. If you say, “I’d go back to school to be a psychologist,” then, if you want to be truly fulfilled, go back to school to be a psychologist. “I’d paint,” “I would be a stay-at-home parent,” “I’d be a writer;” if you had the wherewithal to pursue something other than what you’re already doing, how happy can you reasonably expect to be in what you’re currently doing?
Now, there are three types of working people: those who love their current jobs, those who tolerate their current jobs, and those who hate their current jobs. If you currently love what you do–great! It sounds like, if you won a million dollars, you’d stay put. If you merely tolerate your current job because it pays the bills, I suspect that you are like the vast majority of Americans who go to work, do what they gotta do, and then find their greatest fulfillment in their personal lives. I greatly doubt if either of my long-deceased grandfathers–who worked in a lumber yard and a coal mine, respectively–gave much thought to whether or not they were “fulfilled” sawing wood or digging coal; they had mouths to feed and a mortgage to pay.
Perhaps you are one of those unfortunate ones who truly despises your job, for whatever reason. If you are stuck–actually stuck in that job with no hope of getting out of it any time soon–I feel for you, and I want to strongly urge you to focus on finding happiness in your personal life. If the pain of your professional existence is tainting your personal life, may I suggest that you pop in to see a counselor? We just might be able to help you find a sense of balance or restore your feeling of wellness in your personal life–even if we can’t hand you $1,000,000.
And we can’t, by the way…