The danger is you can become trapped in a frustrating, never-ending cycle of satisfying desires. The excitement over procuring a desired item, position, or status can quickly be replaced by a feeling of emptiness, and an unrelenting need to acquire something else. Successful entrepreneurs are usually very driven so they need to understand their desires to avoid becoming a victim of their own ambition.
I worked with an entrepreneurial couple we’ll call Barb and Kevin. As their wealth increased, they both took on the mindset that making money meant they had to spend it. And spend money they did! However, as they fulfilled one desire, another rose up to take its place. They constantly needed to make more money to fund their increasing desires. They eventually lost track of the roots of their marriage. They also lost track of what was exciting and appealing about their careers. Their careers simply became a way to feed their ever-increasing desires.
Of course there is nothing wrong with reasonably spending money you have worked hard to earn. But do so with purpose. Before you make a purchase of a luxury good, or even something on clearance at a big box store, ask yourself “Why?” Are you buying the item as a reward for your hard work, because it is a necessity, or because you just happen to like it? Whatever your reason for making the purchase, be clear and honest with yourself about it.
In life, if money matters take precedence over everything else, there are likely to be unhealthy repercussions. Instead of planning for wealth, examining their beliefs about money, and working out a life plan together, Barb and Kevin just spent their money. And it nearly destroyed their marriage. It also negatively affected their children. Their four children were given everything, had every advantage, and yet suffered because of the priority their parents placed on the acquisition of material things.
We all want a lot of things, but there is a distinct difference between wanting something and desiring something. For example, you may want to make more money. But what do you really desire? If your reason behind wanting to make more money is that you will then have more time, security, or freedom, then your true desire is not money – it is the time, security, and freedom that you hope money will help you obtain. You want more money, but you desire something much greater.
Understanding your core values and desires is vital to your success. Realize that what you think you want may not be what you truly desire. Once you clearly understand your real desires, you can take steps to avoid falling into the trap of always wanting more. The process of satisfying wants is what creates more want. In contrast, a real desire is not fleeting; it is concrete, able to be satisfied and enjoyed.
It is important, especially for entrepreneurial couples, to take the time to assess your values about money. I encourage you to take a look at my book Entrepreneurial Couples – Making it Work at Work and at Home and complete the self-assessment exercises. Once you have your values about money clear in mind, you will be in a much better position to satisfy your true desires.