DR. WALLACE: I’m 17 and I aspire to be a millionaire one day! I know people say that money can’t buy happiness, but I also know that I won’t be happy if I settle for anything less than the best in life.
Some of my friends have mentioned to me that they think the mindset I have about money is unhealthy, and that I need to learn to be more content with what I have rather than constantly dream about being rich and perhaps even famous someday. I just don’t understand, however, why I should lower my expectations for the kind of life I want to live.
Is it so wrong that I appreciate the finer things in life and want to be able to have a lot of money so that I’m able to live a luxurious lifestyle? I’m a very ambitious person and always work hard, so I don’t see what the problem is and why it’s wrong for me to want to prioritize making money and accumulating wealth.
I can tell you that I do have good ethics and that I won’t take illegal shortcuts to make money and I’d also never, ever cheat anyone out of their money. What I’m talking about is trying to get ahead through hard work, maximum effort and if it takes a lot of “sweat equity” or “elbow grease” to help me find my break, I’ll be willing to put in the effort to see if I can succeed.
It’s amazing to me that nobody else in my social circle seems to think the way I do. There’s a lot of negative chatter whenever I bring this up with friends, and most of them think I’m crazy or a “money-grubber.” Ironically, one of my close friends who comes from quite a wealthy family thinks I have “no shot” at earning big bucks over my lifetime. This girl can barely tie her own shoelaces and has had everything handed to her including the sports car she received as a gift from her parents on her 16th birthday.
And by the way, for the record, I come from a barely middle-class family, and I live now in a one-parent household. We get by, but we don’t have much right now beyond the basics we need to survive.
Am I crazy like my friends say? — Passionate About Success, via email
PASSIONATE ABOUT SUCCESS: No, you are not crazy. Your life is yours to live, to plan for, to work at and to set goals upon. At least I won’t need to advise you to set a goal of being financially stable!
But I do have advice for you as you plan to pursue your goals. Your letter mentioned what you expected to be the fruits of your success, but it did not indicate how you plan to get there. Every good story, career and goal needs to have the foundation of a decent plan upon which incremental successes can be achieved and accumulated. These accumulated successes can indeed launch some people into very comfortable wealth.
So rather than only focusing on the money, I’d advise you to think about the field in which you plan to work to get there. Think about what your interests are, your hobbies and also your current skills. How is your personality? What strengths do you have that you can potentially leverage into a business opportunity?
I feel from your letter that you may indeed have the drive necessary to succeed, but you will need the skills and opportunities to apply that drive toward true overall success. Find a field that you feel comfortable in and master it. Don’t go into a field about which you’ve heard only that “the money is good.” Financial success often flows eventually over time by truly succeeding with a job or endeavor about which an individual is so passionate that it doesn’t even seem like work each day — rather it feels fun and more like a hobby or a preferred lifestyle.
Speak to as many mentors as you can find. Ask them openly to tell you what fields they feel your personality and skills would best serve.
And if you are able to work hard and find success in your chosen field, I am all for you and would be happy to congratulate you for working hard to achieve a goal. And speaking of goals, I’d also advise you to start right now looking for some good causes you believe in. Volunteer some of your time now with these causes. Then once you have much more capital someday, you’ll know all about the organization and you can be confident to donate to it as part of your overall success. Giving back in terms of time, money, mentoring or bettering society are the pinnacle and hallmarks of a life successfully lived.