If You're So Rich, Why Do You Still Work?

Editor's note: The holidays are a great time to think about how to live a richer, fuller life... So for the next five days in DailyWealth, we're running a series of classic essays from Steve on "the rich life" and how to achieve it. Today, he shares the secrets of self-made millionaires who refuse to retire...

Also, the markets are closed tomorrow, so we won't publish DailyWealth. Look for your next issue on Wednesday, December 26. And enjoy the holidays!


I have a few friends who have "silly" wealth – more wealth than they could ever need or spend.

These guys are at retirement age or older... But for some reason, they work harder than just about anyone else I know...

Why are they working so hard? Isn't the dream to "bank" enough money so you don't have to work?

I've called a few of these friends over the years and asked why. Their answers were interesting. And they got right to the heart of how my friends built their extraordinary wealth...

One wealthy friend started out with this story to explain it...

I had dinner with an extremely wealthy guy last week who's 71. He just retired to the desert in Palm Springs, supposedly to play some golf. I asked him how it was going...

"Retirement is horrible," he told me. He said, "I do NOT enjoy sitting in the desert doing nothing. I don't have a clue what I'm doing out here. I don't think I can do this. I don't need the money... But I think I'll have to go back to work."

My wealthy friend described the same feeling... "I love what I do," this friend told me. "I don't want to stop."

I asked my friends specifically what it is that keeps them working so hard...

One said, "Nothing in life beats the thrill of coming up with a big idea and making it a reality."

Another said, "I like mentoring younger people... passing on what I do and seeing them succeed at it."

A few more talked about the thrill of a great opportunity and the chance to increase their wealth. "I know there's no economic reason for me to work," one friend told me... "But that doesn't mean I don't like to get paid."

I then asked these friends if they had any advice to help people join them in the "big leagues"...

First, they explained, opportunity doesn't knock. You have to create it. And when opportunity is close by, you have to drop everything and pursue it. The more you make those sacrifices, the better your chances of finding financial success.

Second, if you know more than everyone in the room, nobody can take advantage of you... So read a lot. Do more homework than anyone else at the table.

Finally, one friend told me, "Work to the task, not to the reward." Don't wash a car for the $5 payment, for example... Wash a car because that's the task at hand – and do a fantastic job. Then you'll get noticed for your work and have a chance to move up in the world.

So why do these "silly rich" guys still work? And how can you get there, too?

They say they work because it keeps them "alive"...

"If I stop working, I'll die," one of them told me.

My friends believe that finding success is all about recognizing, creating, and seizing opportunities.

You make your own luck, they say... so create opportunities for yourself as best as you can.

If you do that enough times in life, you'll know you're giving yourself a legitimate shot at success... at having the kind of wealth that means you're working because you love to, like my friends – not just because you have to.

Good investing,

Steve

Further Reading

To grow your wealth, you need to change the way you think about making money... and set yourself up for success with a few key steps. Kim Iskyan explains how to get started right here: Start Building Your Wealth Now With These Four Financial Habits.

"Don't ever catch yourself saying, 'It takes money to make money,'" Steve says. This big lie could be holding you back... Learn how you can seize opportunities to boost your income right here.

Market Notes
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Philip Morris (PM)… tobacco giant
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Marriott (MAR)… hotels
Carnival (CCL)… cruises
Royal Caribbean Cruises (RCL)… cruises
Avis Budget (CAR)… rental cars
Best Buy (BBY)… retail
Target (TGT)… retail
Mattel (MAT)… “retail apocalypse” victim
BlackBerry (BB)… losing out in the mobile revolution