Should money measure success?

Differences in purpose keep money from equating success



My mind changes every day on whether or not I think money equates success. Although many people try, it’s impossible to ignore that a wealthy bank account is one of the most powerful things in our society. So, I do think money can be a signifier of success.


Success is a very abstract concept, simply because everyone has different aims or purposes. Because of this, I don’t think money can be used as a way to compare people or determine who is more successful. 

There are many small business owners with relatively small incomes who feel satisfied with their lives, while there are just as many wealthy, elite lawyers who dread their jobs and are much less content. I don’t think it’s fair to say the lawyer is more successful than the small business owner just because of his money. 

Another important point is that money doesn’t exactly measure skill or hard work. That’s not to invalidate the hard work that many have put toward their careers, but most of the top one percent is not there solely due to their pure genius or hard work. Whether it be the investment risks that pay off, generous loans or coming from a wealthy family, there is some degree of luck that is usually needed for becoming extremely wealthy. 

Additionally, everyone starts off somewhere different. Some people grew up really poor, but work incredibly hard and find their way to a comfortable salary. On the other hand, some are born into wealthy families full of financial opportunities and are essentially handed high-paying careers. Sure, the wealthy-born person can afford nicer things, but does that mean that they are more hardworking or talented than the person born in poverty? No. 

What’s more, certain skills or careers are simply more monetizable than others, so some people’s passions simply bring in more money than others. A really talented basketball player or investor is probably making a lot more money than most really talented chefs or hairdressers, but that doesn’t mean any of their skills are any more or less valid.

For myself, my success hardly depends on my net worth once I have enough money to live comfortably. Devoting our lives to climbing the capitalism food chain is no way to live. I believe that every human enters this earth with an innate desire to pursue happiness. So, if the definition of success is “the accomplishment of an aim or purpose,” and everyone’s purpose is to find happiness, then success really just means that one is happy. If we use that definition, wealth doesn’t necessarily mean someone is successful. However, in most people’s vision of a happy life, they do picture living comfortably, traveling freely, funding their hobbies and supporting their loved ones. With that logic, money does have a place in success, but it is not the sole determiner. 

That being said, money should never be used as a way to compare people, and success looks different for everyone. It’s all about envisioning the lives we want for ourselves, and if those lives include lots of money, great, but if they don’t, that’s just as valid.