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Money or Happiness: Which is More Important with Your Career?

~by Jason Galaif~

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Do I want a job that brings me happiness or a big paycheck? It’s a question we all must ask ourselves at some point, but it’s not one that often brings about good answers or results.

Ideally, a job that can do both would be great, but in today’s economy, getting a job in the first place is an accomplishment. The choice is ultimately up to you, just make sure that it’s one with which you will be satisfied when you are looking back on your life.

money happiness success

What is Success?

Everyone’s personal definition of success changes depending on their values, yet in America, there seems to be a connection between success and wealth. Merriam-Webster defines success as “getting or achieving wealth, respect, or fame.” While financial success might seem like the mainstream American goal, individuals are no longer associating their success with money.

Surprisingly, most Americans believe success is associated more with happiness than power, possessions or prestige. In fact, according to the “Success Project Survey” performed by Strayer University, 90% of Americans associate success with happiness, and 60% said success is loving what you do for a living. It looks like Webster is going to have to update its definition.

Success is so much more than being fiscally wealthy, and about 90% of Americans would agree. It’s difficult to pinpoint just one definition of success since everyone has his or her own unique experience and personal view. But if I was to suggest an updated definition to Webster that can mold to each person, it would be “finding happiness through your endeavors.” So no matter what you set out to do, if your accomplishment leads to happiness, then you have found success.

But what if your accomplishment is to get rich? A common goal for many, but I think it is important to debunk the myth of money buying happiness.

How Much Happiness can Money Actually Buy?

money happiness successNow I know what you’re thinking — it’s a lot easier to be happy with money. And to some extent, this is true. However, it is more accurate to say that money decreases sadness instead of creating happiness.

According to a thorough study, there’s somewhat of a magic number when it comes to money and happiness. The study concluded that an income beyond $75,000 a year does nothing for happiness, enjoyment, sadness, or stress, but you have to reach that point. Basically, money can help take away the misery that comes with financial stresses, giving you a greater sense of control and opportunity. But, once you exceed the financial level of no stress (which is $75,000/year, according to the study), money can no longer buy a sustainable happiness. Money is a tool better used to reduce sadness. So what can increase happiness?

The Big Picture

So ultimately, the choice is up to you whether you want a career that brings more money or more happiness. Of course the dream is to go to work and do the things you love while knowing you are paid well. There will be some give and take here, but I believe that you should be constantly taking little steps toward a life where you are doing something you love. As you can see, money alone is not going to bring you happiness that will last throughout your life. For that, you will need personal fulfillment.

You can find fulfillment in a number of ways, and as I said before, each person will have their own version of personal success. The worth you feel being in a family, the love you can share with a person, the companionship of a pet, the joy of helping those in need, or the happiness you receive from doing work you are passionate about can bring you happiness that will last over a lifetime. Now that is worth so much more than money. But, making a lot of money to give you the best possible option for all of the above isn’t too bad either!


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Jason Galaif

Meet the Author: Jason Galaif

Jason Galaif, aka The CPA Exam Guy, is an accounting all-star who saw more of the exam than any prodigy would ever want to — he failed several sections and had a couple of passed exams expire. He now uses his extensive experience and knowledge to help people find the best cpa review course for their needs so they can pass the CPA with as little effort and time as possible.


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