I Made a Lot of Money, and It Made Me Very Happy

The year 2012 was (financially) my best year ever. The sum of revenue on courses, workshops, presentations, royalties, product sales, licenses, and house rental, was never before so big. And that makes me feel good.

Yes, I confess!

Money Makes Me Happy

Unfortunately, writing (and publishing) the preceding sentences also generates a storm of other feelings in my head…

I feel shame because many coaches and consultants insist that money doesn’t motivate knowledge workers in a good way. But yes, I like to peek at my bank account every now and then, just for the joy of seeing a number of digits I’ve never seen earlier in my life. And realizing I’m not supposed to be motivated this way can make me feel ashamed.

I feel guilt because I now have more money than most other people I know. And in my (Dutch) culture I’m not supposed to feel better or more successful than anyone else. In Scandinavia they call it the Law of Jante: nobody should break out of the social group. But yes, I enjoy the fact that I’ve achieved something special. And feeling unique also makes me feel guilty.

I feel anxiety because writing (and publishing) this analysis of my feelings may lead to unexpected consequences. Some readers might not like it. Some people might hate me for it. Honesty is rarely appreciated by people who prefer consensus, equality, predictability and cohesion. From the moment I click Publish on this post I will feel anxious about the replies.

But I can live with that.

The 10 Reasons I’m Happy

I feel happy, because…

The neverending quest to discover how I can successfully make more money, satisfies my need for curiosity.

The fact that the business world wants to pay for my ideas and services satisfies my need for acceptance.

I earned the money through voluntary, legal, and free trade relationships, which addresses a need for honor.

After a long time I’m finally getting the hang of marketing and networking, which satisfies my need for mastery.

Money makes the world go round, and it thus it can help me reach more people, addressing a need for power.

The more money I have the more I am free to pursue the activities I enjoy most, which is crucial for my freedom.

I am already using the money to support some friends, family, and charity, which helps my social relationships.

More money helps me acquire better tools and services, which is very beneficial for my need for security and order.

The more I earn the closer I can get to my real purpose in life, which is to be a full-time writer, or in other words, my goal.

And finally, I enjoy it when my years of hard work culminate in some recognition. In other words, my need for status.

So you see, for me money is a motivator.

From Separation to Unification

I understand, when people separate work from their life, then a focus on money (work) will probably deteriorate their quality of life. But for me, my work is part of my life. For me, doing better work means having a better life!

Therefore, money is an easy-to-measure proxy variable for all my intrinsic motivators. (There are other proxies too.) I even dare to say, when your work is your life, money is a metric that covers the whole champfrogs scale!

If you stop separating work from life, and instead see the first as an implementation of the second, you can stop separating money from motivation, and instead see one as a metric for the other.

It’s not a perfect metric, of course. You’ll need some other metrics too. Just stop blaming money for the misery of people. Instead, figure out how to integrate your work and your life. It could help you feel happy.

And the shame, guilt, and anxiety?

I suppose, during my valiant efforts to gain another digit on my bank account, I will just have to learn how to live with them.


  • The 12 Best Books I Read in 2012
  • The Problem of Stakeholder Focus
Related Posts
free book
“How to Change the World”