How To Motivate Yourself When The Desire To Be Rich Is Gone


As part of a new series, I’d like to share some interesting reader questions I get so the community can get involved and share their perspectives as well. I spend a lot of time responding to comments, so I figure I might as well make some of them into full-fledged posts. I get tired of listening to my own story as I’m sure do many of you, so this is a great way to break things up!

Reader Gus writes in:

Hi Sam,

I love reading your blog and we have a reasonably similar work background so I thought you may be a good person to ask my question to.

My parents were immigrants and I grew up in a lower class area but went to a decent school. I never really had the ‘things’ or houses my friends did, which in hindsight isn’t particularly important but it did make me want to be rich. Not just comfortable, but rich.

So I did what any kid from a poor immigrant background would do. I studied hard, got good grades, went for and got into a good university, got good grades and then went into Investment Banking. I did three years in M&A before burning out and switched to buy side equities research which I’ve been doing for six years now. I’m married and recently had my first child and everything at home is good.

I’ve been pretty good at saving and investing the whole time I’ve been working. I have a small home paid off worth ~$650k and ~$500k in retirement and non-retirement investments with no debt. All in all not bad for someone in their early 30s (not amazing I know but not bad).

Money which was my sole driver for most of my life no longer motivates me because I’m comfortable and I’m not a particularly big spender anyway. Once you got to the point of comfortable, what did you do next? How did you motivate yourself to keep going?

I don’t mind my job – don’t love it…don’t hate it. You know what equities research is like. It’s mentally stimulating and interesting but basically I know my coverage universe back to front and reporting seasons have started to feel like ground hog day.

I make ~$250k p.a. pre tax, but I’ve pretty much capped out here and if I want to step up in role / wage I’ve got to move funds which is doable but challenging and I really don’t have the “why” to do it just yet.

I thought perhaps working towards FIRE would be a good goal, but that’s just money motivating me again and once I get to that point, what’s next?

Thanks heaps for taking the time to read this.

My response:

Hi Gus,

Thanks for your question. After about 10 years of aggressively saving and working post college, I started feeling the same way about money. Being rich is pointless if your mountain of cash has no purpose. Therefore, find a purpose bigger than yourself. As soon as you tie specific goals for your money, your money will become much more meaningful. With more meaning, comes more motivation.

Here are some common goals for your money to consider:

* Not having to work as much so you can spend more time with your child.

* Being able to comfortably pay for your child’s education and help him out when he stumbles.

* Having the option to take a new job you love that doesn’t pay well.

* Helping your parents and in-laws with financial matters.

* Spending your time on a cause or donating to a cause that has special meaning to you.

Your motivation will also increase the more aware you are of what you have. For example, less than 5% of the population makes $250,000 a year or more. But for a 30-something year old, you’re in the top 1% income earner for your age group. With this in mind, I would hold onto your $250,000 a year job until you can no longer take it, or until you’ve found something better to do.

It’s very easy to get used to a comfortable lifestyle (hedonic adaptation), even if you’ve come from a humble background. Since nothing good lasts forever, you should take advantage of your situation until it’s gone. Hearing other people’s stories of struggle and being aware of unemployment, poverty, and homelessness statistics will prevent you from taking your situation for granted. Count your blessings regularly.

The main reason why I left my finance job was because I found writing online to be way more fun (found another purpose). Although it paid 70% – 90% less in the beginning, I didn’t care because I loved everything about creating an online media business. Hearing other people’s perspectives is enjoyable. I also like helping people with their financial problems since we all have them. Keep on searching for something that gets you up every morning without an alarm clock!

My main motivation now is earning enough to take care of my family and being a good role model for my son. I’ve never felt this much motivation before because everything I do is now no longer for me.

Always remember your WHY. If you never forget, you will have all the motivation in the world.

The Golden Circle - Start With Your WHY

The Golden Circle by author Simon Sinek.

Related: Life After Financial Independence

Readers, how do you motivate yourself if you have already achieved financial independence or you’re no longer interested in becoming rich? What are other things besides money that motivate you?