A common goal of many young people in high schools and colleges is to become rich and famous. Maybe this is your goal too.
To Be Rich and Famous
What is wrong about being rich and famous? Well, nothing. It is arguably better to be rich and famous than poor and isolated. Of course, what you see in the magazines about rich and famous people is just one tiny part of their lives. However, if you are rich you can afford to buy a nice house and a nice car. If you are famous, you get invitations to dinner parties and people would like to be around you. There are some side effects like false friends and the fear to lose your money again but after all rich and famous does not sound too bad.
The Goal to Become Rich and Famous
It is a different story, however, when it comes to the goal to become rich and famous.
There is a nice dialog in the movie Citizen Kane where one person mentioned that Citizen Kane made a lot of money and then the other person replied:
“Well, it’s no trick to make a lot of money. If all you want is to make a lot of money.”
Making a lot of money, same as becoming famous is no end goal. Unless you are the richest and most famous person in the world, there will always be someone richer and more famous than you. It is not a SMART (Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic, Time-bound) goal.
Just as a side note, a better goal statement in this case would be the following:
In five years, I will have 1 million USD on my bank account.
In five years, I will be on the cover of Forbes magazine.
However, the statement is not the main problem here. The main problem is the “Why” – or more accurately, the missing “Why”. Why would you like to become rich and famous? Maybe because you would you like to have a nice car. But why? To impress people or to have more space to make trips with your family?
Richer = Happier?
According to a study from Purdue University, a higher income can indeed make you happier. The study suggests an ideal annual income would be about 95,000 USD. Another study from Harvard Business School and other universities indicates that people with a net worth of 10 million USD are happier than people with a net worth of 1 million USD. Furthermore, self-made millionaires seem to be happier than millionaires who inherited their wealth.
So, is the answer yes? Does wealth make you happy? Should our goal be to become a self-made deca millionaire? There is still the question whether rich people are happier or rather, happy people are more likely to become rich. In his book, The Happiness Advantage Shawn Achor suggests that happiness comes before success, not the other way around. This, in affect means that our goal should rather be happiness and success will then follow.
How to Spend it?
It also matters how you spend your money. Material good tend to have a sort-term effect on your happiness. If you buy a car you might be quite happy for a while. But after a year or two you might just start thinking about a better car. Investing your money in events like visiting a new country together with some friends tend to have a longer lasting benefit.
You might even think about spending your money on other people. As Michael Norton suggests in an NPR interview this might make you happier than spending the money on yourself.
If you are confused now, let us check what is really behind the (your?) goal to become rich and famous. There probably is some underlying, deeper need that most likely is some kind of an emotion.
A very effective and simple tool is just asking “Why?” five times. Here comes an example:
Why would I like to become rich? – Because I want to have a nice house.
Why? – Because I would like to invite friends and new people.
Why? – Because I like to talk to friends and to meet new people.
Why? – Because I enjoy listening to their stories and share mine.
Why? – Because this makes me happy.
Happiness is the end goal in this case. It might also be security or love. You can easily do this exercise multiple times when you have more than one answer to a “Why?”. In any case, you might come to helpful insights about your goals.
If you have a big goal, it is worth questioning it. Ask yourself why you would like to achieve this specific goal and you might find out more about what you really want in life – maybe you will even find your life goal.
Now It Is Your Turn
In our free goal setting app there is a step-by-step guide to find and set your goals.
You can download the VidaGoals app for Android here:Happy goal setting.