Subscriber LF writes: “Bob, given your statements that you are not materialistic and shun luxury, what compels you to want to keep working so hard and make so much money? It seems as if by now you should have more than you need.”
The reason why money is important to me has nothing to do with the things it lets you buy, because as LF correctly states, I don’t want things.
No, the reason why money is important to me is the same reason why money was important to Groucho Marx.
Groucho said, “Money frees you from doing things you dislike. Since I dislike doing nearly everything, money is handy.”
In a nutshell, to me money equals freedom—in my case, the freedom to avoid doing things I do not want to do.
This point was dramatized a few months ago when, driving up to my home, I saw the grounds swarmed by a crew from the company that takes care of our lawn.
We have in the backyard more than an acre of woods, and all those trees produce a huge amount of leaves.
The day I pulled up, I saw a crew of five men working with various equipment removing leaves from the property.
And I thought: If I had to do a mindless, meaningless job like that, I would be absolutely miserable—bored out of my skull.
You see, like Groucho, I dislike doing nearly everything, and I can’t think of too many things more boring and soul-deadening than cleaning leaves.
When I drove up to my house that day and saw my lawn maintenance company at work, I felt like dropping to my knees and giving thanks that I make enough money to pay these 5 guys, whatever they cost, so I do not have to do it myself.
My definition of success—for me, not for you—is doing what I want to do, when I want to do it, where and with whom I want to do it. And conversely, NOT doing things I do not want to do.
Very few things are as important to me in this life as avoiding tasks I consider menial, trivial, meaningless, tiresome, or distasteful, and leaf removal for me is in that category.
This belief system stemmed from spending my childhood watching my beloved father labor for decades at a job—insurance agent—that he hated.
I loved and admired my dad. But watching him make the ultimate sacrifice—working as an insurance agent to take care of his family—made avoiding a career that bored me or made me unhappy my top priority in life.
My main motivation in becoming a freelance writer was to be able to make money doing something that I loved, a joy that was denied to my father his whole life. I could not imagine having to do otherwise today.
Now, I don’t make a king’s ransom as a writer and I am not rich.
But, we are financially secure and comfortable and the main advantage that our financial well-being gives me is the ability to, like Groucho, adamantly refuse to do the things I do not like to do.
Which is why I hire and pay others to take care of my lawn, repair my appliances, maintain my home, prepare my taxes, service my car, design my websites…you name it.
My reward is the precious ability to do absolutely nothing but what I love, which is my work—reading, thinking, and writing for my clients.
And that’s why, yes LF, though making and having a lot of money is important to me, I do not consider myself a money grubber…even if you do.
Bob Bly is the author of “World’s Best Copywriting Secrets” and has written copy for more than 100 companies including IBM, Boardroom, Medical Economics and AT&T. He is the author of more than 75 books and a columnist for Target Marketing, Early To Rise and The Writer. McGraw-Hill calls him “America’s top copywriter”.