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Old 01-26-2010, 01:07 AM   #1 (permalink)
immoral minority
ASU2003's Avatar
Location: Back in Ohio
What is success?

After I buy a new laptop next week, I will be living the life I imagined that I would have 10 years ago (minus 1 loving girlfriend). Yet I don't know where to go from here. I could take some risks and be innovative or creative and try to make more money, and retire in 5 years (and have enough money to migrate to South America/Australia from Halloween to May). Or, I could continue to play it safe at my current job, saving my money, paying down the mortgage, and live a comfortable yet semi-uninteresting life.

Then again, the only reason I want to make money now if for the social safety net, and to be able to choose what I do in life, not to show off.

I want to be the type of person who can go backpacking around Europe with hardly any money, yet with lots of friends. I would have been too afraid of 'something' to have done that if I was given the chance when I was unemployed and had very little. I would have rather sat in my apartment than go to different hostels, meet new people, and actually work day jobs when I could. Yet, 'society' wouldn't see that as 'successful' would they?

The question I am asking myself if what number do I need to reach before I can say, "I have enough money". I'm no where close to this number yet, and it usually goes down every year. I don't need $100 million or even $10 million.

Have you ever thought about retiring early, or trying to reach a set number (and then being happy and quitting) instead of "getting rich"? Did you get your job because that is what people are supposed to do? Is your life going in the right direction, or do you not have any direction? Would you be ok if your partner quit by the time they were 45 because your lifestyle together doesn't cost very much?
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Old 01-26-2010, 04:19 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Location: Eastern Canada
Years ago, I read an article about a college professor, a lawyer, a doctor, and a very successful small business owner. All were from a VERY disadvantaged, inner city school with a sub 50% graduation rate and under 25% university success rate. All also had had a particular high school teacher for English or History (I simply can't remember which). This guy started his course with a lecture on "THE BIG GAME".

I don't recall a lot about the lecture unfortunately, but it influenced these poor struggling kids so profoundly that they went on to very successful professional lives. The big game, of course, was LIFE. The teacher started by asking if the kids enjoyed playing games. Of course they said yes, sensing a break from the tedium of the classroom. He then went on to explain the rules... that there were very definite rules, but everyone made up their own, and that only they knew what THEIR rules were, and when they had won. It sounded a lot like the board game Careers.

He then explained that the fun thing about this game was you could change the rules for winning. Even after you had won, you could change it so there was another way to win again, and go after that. You could want to be a millionaire, get there, win, and then decide you wanted to climb a mountain to win again. The possibilities were endless, and you could win doing something that didn't get someone else any closer to winning. You won when you were happy and content with your life.

He finally tied it into education by telling them that they probably wouldn't win just by getting an education, but that getting a good education would give them so many more opportunities to win... to achieve their dreams.

These 4 very successful people all with very unlikely backgrounds remembered that lecture and teacher as having been the catalyst to their success in life.

It sounds to me like you've kind of won at life already, and are looking to change the rules to win again. Good luck. The rules are such that if you find what you thought was the winning strategy (success) isn't bringing your the rewards you thought it would, you can change in mid-stream. That almost sounds about where you are. I will suggest that if you are looking at a specific dollar figure, you can always use more and do better things with it. From my financial counseling days, I always advised people that money itself was a bad goal. What money could do for you was a good goal.

As for me, I've achieved my financial goals and then some, my children are all doing well and I'm proud of them, so I feel I've been a success. I will retire early, but I will not stop living. I haven't won my Nobel Prize, or written my best-selling novel, or hiked the length of the Appalachian Trail, so I do have some more potential wins in my future.
The secret to great marksmanship is deciding what the target was AFTER you've shot.
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Old 01-26-2010, 11:02 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Location: Over the rainbow . .
Originally Posted by ASU2003 View Post
Have you ever thought about retiring early, or trying to reach a set number (and then being happy and quitting) instead of "getting rich"? Did you get your job because that is what people are supposed to do? Is your life going in the right direction, or do you not have any direction? Would you be ok if your partner quit by the time they were 45 because your lifestyle together doesn't cost very much?
I did retire early, at the age of 42. At that age, I'm not so sure it's retiring as simply quitting your job.

Not all success is financial, but unfortunately you need some measure of financial success to make other things in your life work.

We never saw the point in getting rich. You can only spend so much money, you can't take it with you and if my son wants money, he can work for it, not inherit it.

We did have specific financial goals, the biggest being to pay off the house. Which we did. And we have always lived way under our means. Even with two incomes, our budget only allowed for the lowest income to cover everything, insurances, mortgage, utilities, etc. That way if one of us lost our job, we were never going to suffer.

That never happened but it was planned for anyway. All that extra money went to pay off, pre pay and do whatever we could to secure the future. That did not include Roth IRA's, 401(k) or anything else that had set rules on when, how much and at what age we could withdraw. I prefer to be in control.

I'm almost 43, my husband is 49. Our son is 17, will leave for college in about a year and a half and pretty much has his own life. My husband has cut back on his hours at work and takes days off here and there.

We take a lot of 3 day weekend trips, spend days on the beach, spend time reading or ordering up whole seasons of tv shows we missed from blockbuster online, some days are spent drinking, whilst the following day is spent napping and recovering. Two weeks ago we spent the day driving around trying pie and coffee at every diner we could find. Sorry, Dunkin Donuts still has the best coffee.

We are young, healthy, happy, enjoying our life, watching the sun rise and the sun set. We are not a slave to "look at what I bought".

For us, we are enormously successful.
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Old 01-26-2010, 11:23 AM   #4 (permalink)
Tilted Cat Head
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Location: Manhattan, NY
I don't know if the right word describes successful, maybe it more describes lack of ambition. Then again, it's also a definable state, such as, ambition to collect money or ambition to rack up as many days at the beach? it all depends on your meter stick.

me, I like to live the lifestyle of my choice, right now, I'm doing what I can to amass some wealth to allow me to do the things I want to do like travel and enjoy city living. That will change one day, will that alter my success? doubtful.
I don't care if you are black, white, purple, green, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, hippie, cop, bum, admin, user, English, Irish, French, Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim, indian, cowboy, tall, short, fat, skinny, emo, punk, mod, rocker, straight, gay, lesbian, jock, nerd, geek, Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Independent, driver, pedestrian, or bicyclist, either you're an asshole or you're not.
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Old 01-26-2010, 03:03 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Location: Houston, Texas
To me success is meeting your goals and being happy in the current place you're in.

Sounds like you have met part of the criteria, but not the "be happy where you're at" part. I think that problem will be fixed if something exciting or interesting happens to you. With your two choices of what to do from now on, it sounds like you want to take the more adventurous path, but in reality neither would be wrong. Good luck my friend.
Our revenge will be the laughter of our children.
Give me convenience or give me death!
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Old 01-26-2010, 03:28 PM   #6 (permalink)
The Reforms
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Location: Rarely, if ever, here or there, but always in transition
Success is happiness within self, & recognition of abilities/achievements among peers.

Either way, and whichever one you value most, success is always subjective.
As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world (that is the myth of the Atomic Age) as in being able to remake ourselves.
Mohandas K. Gandhi
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Old 01-26-2010, 03:44 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Location: Eastcoast USA
Love (given and received) = Success

..."Say what you think. Those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind" ~ Dr. Seuss

Last edited by Shell; 01-31-2010 at 05:28 AM..
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