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The Miserable Millionaire - What Can We Learn From Him?

I recently read an article on the NY Times, which told a story of a man who works in a hedge fund and was making $1.2 million a year. However, despite the ridiculous amount of money he was making, he was miserable.

This then made me think...

What can we learn from a miserable Millionaire ?

Charles, the author of the article, attended a reunion with his former Harvard classmates and was shocked to find that many of them were unhappy - despite their successful careers.

Some of the alumni consisted of hedge fund managers and executives (which would equate to tens of millions of dollars of net worth under one roof), this was also mixed with ex-students who were living content, not overly lavish, lifestyles.

A contrast was clear between the two groups of super successful professionals and the content individuals. The higher earners expressed their consistent concerns with missed promotions, unhappy children and divorces. However, one of the stories stood out for Charles, this was the story of a man who was earning $1.2 million a year but hated going to the office. If he wasn't constantly being undermined by employees and battling for promotions, he was attempting to merely keep his job by hitting his ridiculous daily targets - having to hit specific financial goals which would carry over to the next day if they were missed.

The miserable millionaire expressed his concerns to Charles, recognising that he is privileged to earn his salary but after 12 hours of work a day, it does not seem worth the trouble.

“When I die, is anyone going to care that I earned an extra percentage point of return? My work feels totally meaningless.”

He felt he was locked into his job as a pay cut would eliminate him from the lifestyle that he had become accustom to.

Is being rich and depressed common?

Charles looked into data on the attitudes of American professionals.

In the 1980s, just over 60% of workers questioned were satisfied with their jobs, this has declined immensely since then - with only 43% of workers claiming that they were satisfied in 2010. These figures were collected by nonprofit research firm, the Conference Board.

Similarly, CV-Library released statistics from the UK that show over a third of the nation's professionals are unhappy with their roles.

So, what has the miserable millionaire taught us?

I believe that the key lesson from this story has been to chase your passion rather than chasing money.

If you are working in a world that is surrounded by things that you are passionate about, then at the very least, you will have little money and a lot of happiness. However, there is often a misconception that working in a field that you are passionate about cannot bring a lot of money - this is wrong. In today's world, where more and more people are chasing their dreams, aided by the rise in digital platforms such as Youtube and Instagram, we can see more people making money from their passion than ever before. For example, some of the biggest Youtubers are making up to $17 million a year by pursuing and sharing their passion to the world.

“I’m jealous of everyone who had the balls to do something that made them happy"

Are you happy with your job? Do you make money whilst following your passion? Let us know in the comments below and if you are an entrepreneur, feel free to reach out to us and you could feature on our site.


This post was adapted from Charles Duhigg's "Wealthy, Successful and Miserable" article which can be found on the New York Times.

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