Now that you’re rich, what’s next?

Well, let me tell you one thing… Being rich is better than not being rich, but it’s not nearly as good as you imagine it is…It is much more complicated than you think.

First, one of the only real things being rich gives you is that you don’t have to worry about money as much anymore. There will still be some expenses that you cannot afford (and you will wish you could), but most expenses can be made without thinking about what it costs. This is definitely better, without a doubt.

Being rich does come with some downsides, though.

The first thing you are thinking reading that, is, “cry me a river”. That is one of the downsides. You are not allowed to complain about anything, ever. Since most people imagine being rich as nirvana, you are no longer allowed to have any human needs or frustrations in the public eye. Yet, you are still a human being, but most people don’t treat you like one.

There’s the second downside. Most people now want something out of you, and it can be harder to figure out whether someone is being nice to you because they like you, or they are being nice to you because of your money. If you aren’t married yet, good luck trying to figure out (and/or always having self-doubt) about whether a partner is into you or your money.

Then you have friends & family. Hopefully, your relationship with them doesn’t sour, but it can get harder. Both can get really weird about it and start to treat you differently. They might come and ask for a loan (bad idea: if you give, always give a gift). One common problem is that they don’t appreciate Christmas presents the way that they used to, and they can get unrealistic expectations for how large a present should be and be disappointed when you don’t meet their unrealistic expectations. You have to start making decisions for your parents on what does and does not cost too much, and frankly, it’s awkward.

Add all of these up and you can start to feel a certain sense of isolation.

You sometimes lay awake at night, wondering if you made the right investment decisions, whether it might all go away. You know that feeling standing on a tall building, the feeling you might lose your mind and jump? Sometimes you’re worried that you might lose your mind and spend it all.

The next thing you need to understand about money is this: All of the things you picture buying, they are only worthwhile to you because you cannot afford them (or have to work really hard to acquire them). Maybe you have your eye on a new Ferrari — once you can easily afford it, it just doesn’t mean as much to you anymore.

Everything is relative, and you are more or less powerless to that. Yes, the first month you drive the Ferrari or eat in a real fancy restaurant, you really enjoy it. But then you sort of getting used to it. And then you are looking towards the next thing, the next level up. And the problem is that you have reset your expectations, and everything below that level doesn’t get you quite as excited anymore.

This happens to everyone. Good people can maintain perspective, actively fight it, and stay grounded. Worse people complain about it and commit general acts of debauchery. But remember this: it would happen to you, too, even though you might not think so. You’ll just have to trust me on this one.

Most people hold the illusion that if only they had more money, their life would be better and they would be happier. Then they get rich, and that doesn’t happen, and it can throw them into a serious life crisis.

If you’re part of the middle class, you have just as many opportunities to do with your life what you want of it. If you’re not happy now, you won’t be happy because of money.

Whether you’re rich or not, make your life what you want it to be, and don’t use money as an excuse. Go out there, get involved, be active, pursue your passion, and make a difference.

I certainly don’t regret it.

Wealth removes constraints. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing depends on the extent to which you needed those constraints. If you have a serious alcohol or other drug addiction, wealth could be fatal for you. In general, it makes people more of whatever they already were. If you’re an asshole, getting more money will probably make you more of an asshole. However, if you have purpose and meaning in your life that goes beyond chasing the golden carrot, money can give you the freedom to focus on the things that truly matter to you.

One of the biggest dangers of wealth is that it often causes people to cut themselves off from the larger society, either out of fear or the belief that they are somehow better than others. We are all one.

So it all depends on the cost.

Does getting rich here mean giving up key relationships or the ability to form them? Cutting off future opportunities and access to important, valuable pieces of one’s life experience? Selling out on one’s principles, dreams, goals, or origins? Betraying one’s friends? Breaking the law?

Or does it mean pursuing one’s passion as an entrepreneur, doing what you always dreamed of doing, striving to make a positive difference in the world, working very hard day and night, dealing with challenges and overcoming as many of them as one can and finding partners to help overcome others, and maybe eventually having the possibility of a financial payout?

Or does it mean something else entirely?

It also depends on what you plan to do with the money. Andrew Carnegie thought getting rich was quite worth it because he planned to give the money away to causes that build a society, thinking it would be a shame to die rich. That made him even more ruthless in his business dealings, so it’s still arguably about whether or not that was “worth it,” but both how you plan to get the money and how you plan to use it.

Bottom Line: As Solomon rightly observed, there’s always someone richer, and you never have enough. You earn $50M, and there’s a guy you meet who’s worth $3BN. When you’re building a new house for your family, he’s just bought a golf course. When you invest $2M in a new startup you believe in, those 15 others at the club are boasting and comparing notes about their new $25,000 toilet seat status symbol. When you thought you were rid of the realtor seducing you into an extra 10k on the house purchase, now there are 100 more of them wanting you to buy everything they are selling, no matter how strange.

You have unlimited access to the worst in life: you can drink alcoholically for comfort without worrying if the supply runs out. If you were an asshole before, now you’re an asshole with power and resources.

There does come a time, in my experience, where the “casino” phase reaches its end because of the emptiness that inevitably results. It’s then that the need to deal with a “legacy” or “contribution” to the Greater Good takes over. Charity and philanthropy are great ways to do that. The need to give back seems to come from the desperate need for long-term fulfillment, rather than short-term gratification. Money can’t buy you health, and the moment you love a loved one to a serious disease, you realize you have to means to make a difference because there is a sense of purpose.

You can’t stop an entrepreneur being an entrepreneur. Just like doing billion dollar deals. It’s not what you do – it’s who you are. It wasn’t ever about the money in the first place. Those who seek to solve an inner yearning all seem to climb the 20-year mountain just to find out there’s nothing at the top. It seems to be those who value the journey, and who they’re on it with, who find the happiness everyone thinks the money itself will bring.

Now that you know, share your thoughts.

Written by

Ziad K Abdelnour is a Wall Street Financier, Author, Philanthropist, Activist, Lobbyist, Oil & Gas Trader & President & CEO of Blackhawk Partners, Inc.,