Spoiler: It’s not the money. Of course, it can be pretty amazing if you get as lucky as someone like Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg or Google co-founder Sergey Brin, but the money (after reaching a minimum threshold where your basic human needs are suitably met) will not deliver happiness to you in and of itself. The truth is more complex and more nuanced than that.
Naturally, we have to start with a pretty fundamental caveat. If you’re making money online, but you’re not making enough each month to cover your basic expenses, to keep a roof over your head and reasonably nutritious food on the table, you’re not going to be happy. It’s pretty hard to be happy when you’re destitute and constantly worried about where your next meal is going to come from.
That said, if you can get to a comfortable living — and this will vary based on geography, living standards, personal preferences and whatever else — your happiness will depend much more on these other key features.
When you consider a more conventional, 9-to-5 kind of job, the average employee isn’t provided with all that much autonomy, especially if he or she works for a larger corporation. You do what you are told to do, because you are told to do it. Someone higher up on the totem pole is delegating tasks down to you. That’s just the nature of business and you’re another cog in the machine.
You may be provided with some independence, but it is nowhere near the kind of autonomy and independence enjoyed by dot com solopreneurs. If you’re an Internet marketer, you get to decide what industry or niche you want to approach. You get to decide which offers you want to promote. You get to decide how you’re going to promote those offers. You get to decide how to allocate your resources.
You are wholly in control of your own destiny and what you want to do.
Intimately related to that sense of control is an unbridled sense of ownership. There are innumerable arguments in the rent vs. buy debate when it comes to real estate. Some people will tell you that it’s smarter in the long run to rent your home, whereas other people will tell you that owning your home is the best investment you can make.
Regardless of the actual fact of the matter in your own situation, the pride of ownership simply cannot be ignored. That pride delivers considerable happiness, because you know that those four walls belong to you and not to the bank or to someone else. The pride of ownership extends across practically everything, including your professional exploits.
Let’s say that you decide to launch and run a membership site. Let’s say that you enjoy considerable success with that site, raking in a great deal of regular monthly revenue and your audience continues to grow month over month, year over year. If you worked for a company and much of the development of that site was spread out over a large team or outsourced to other workers, you can only claim partial credit for the site’s success.
When you own it yourself, when you’re in control, you can attribute much more of that success to your own hard work, dedication, ingenuity and creativity. It’s yours. This is why millionaires who earned their fortune are generally more fulfilled than those who simply inherited their riches.
Got a regular job? You’re expected to be at a specific workplace location at a specific time on specific days of the week. When you work for yourself on the Internet, you get both time freedom and location freedom. You can work when you want, where you want, on what you want.
Of course, as dear Uncle Ben once told us, with great power comes great responsibility. Well, it’s equally true that great freedom is also accompanied by great responsibility. There are going to be infinite opportunities for distraction and procrastination, but it also means that you have the freedom to explore your hobbies and enjoy time with your family when it works best for you.
When you have that true sense of freedom, when you have utter control over the direction of your professional life, when you enjoy the pride of ownership over all of your achievements and accomplishments, you have all the building blocks you need for true happiness. Money may not buy happiness, but it can buy you the waterfront mansion with unobstructed happiness views.