Does the Amount of Money We Earn Define Our Success?

In our latest podcast episode, we explored the common issue many freelancers face: the obsession with earning more money.

At least, in the personal finance community, it seems to be an obsession.

Many freelancers publish income reports, and it’s tough not to have an emotional reaction to them, whether it’s jealousy, inadequacy, or the need to compete.

The feeling of inadequacy is a big one. Of course, if you see someone earning more than you, you feel like you’re doing something wrong; like you’re not earning enough.

But should we base our feelings of success on what other people are doing or earning?

The logical answer is no, but when it comes to money, most of us are guilty of thinking with our hearts instead of our heads.

We wanted to further the discussion on earning more by asking an important question: does the amount of money we earn define our success?

Many of us define success by the amount of money earned by someone, including ourselves. But is that a good measure of success? The answer is complicated.

Money Isn’t Everything

This issue is something I’ve wrestled with for the better part of a year. I’ve seen many friends and colleagues rocket past me in terms of income, and I’ve been left thinking I’m doing something wrong.

But another part of me wonders why I should care. After all, I’m happy with my life. I’ve been able to move twice, travel to see my family, travel to see friends, pay extra on my student loans, and afford the things that matter most to me.

Why do I need to earn more and risk burning out because I’m working so much?

The answer has eluded me for the most part. My friends who are outside of our community and who aren’t freelancers don’t seem to be chasing the Benjamins, so what gives?

In the podcast, we discussed the prevalence of income reports and how they perpetuate this “issue,” but we still couldn’t arrive at an answer.

So for now, I’m trying to tell myself that money isn’t everything. How much you make certainly shouldn’t define you as a person, and it shouldn’t define whether or not you’re successful.

As I said on the show, I’ve been self-employed going on two and a half years…that’s more than I ever thought I would achieve. I’ve had great clients, learned a lot, grown my business, and explored many options within my niche.

By most standards, I’m successful, but I have this nagging voice in my head telling me it’s not enough, so I think I need to hammer this message into my head a bit more to actually believe it!

At the end of the day, I have a healthy bank account, I’m on track to pay off my student loans early, I have wonderful family and friends who I enjoy spending time with, and I don’t have much to complain about.

Obsessing over earning more and sacrificing time I could be spending with others to work isn’t very appealing. I’ll just have to choose to be different.


If Money Is All You’re After, You May Never Feel Fulfilled

Erin did a great job summing up how you should learn to be happy with your own situation and not compare yourself to other people and their financial success because it can make you feel inadequate when in fact, you’re not.

I don’t like comparing myself to other people because I know that everyone had their own unique start and some people got started way before I did so it makes no practical sense to compare my beginning to someone else’s middle.

With that being said, there will always be someone who is earning more than you or seems more successful and if you constantly compare yourself to them, you may never really feel fulfilled which is a shame. I don’t like when success is measured by how much you earn because I feel like it’s a comparison between people who earn more than you and people who earn less than you.

Just because you make more money than someone else doesn’t mean you’re more successful or more important and it’s just an all around bad way to define success because it will just leave you craving more and more.

Instead, success should be measured by what you accomplish, how you achieve your dreams, and how your dreams positively affect and help others and make a difference in their lives. When you stay true to yourself, set goals that have meaning, and follow your dreams, you’ll feel successful and fulfilled no matter how much money you make.


The Best Things in Life are Free

I know the iconic statement didn’t really mean you don’t ever need money, but I think it’s a good reminder that we can all stand to hear from time to time. I like earning money and I do find myself caught up in it at times, but when I slow down and remind myself that money isn’t everything, I find that the free things in life are what make me happier.

I’ve been happier in my business and my life when I’ve done things for free to help others. That’s not to say that money can’t help people too, it definitely can, but there’s only so much money that you actually need. After you reach that point, there’s no reason to continue prioritizing how much you earn other than to compete with others.


Do you have a hard time separating your success from your income? If you’re a freelancer, do you find it hard to turn down money-making opportunities? 

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2 thoughts to “Does the Amount of Money We Earn Define Our Success?”

  1. Having recently started up a blog, I’d love to parlay that into some freelance work. I have no idea how to even do that. With that said, it’s always fun hearing about the possibilities knowing it may be an opportunity in the future. Thanks for sharing!!!

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