Some days ago, I was discussing with a friend who reached out for the design of his proposed home. While I the consultant, to whom the financial gains would accrue, was focused on getting necessary information for the brief, trying to figure what his goals and needs for the design would be, and how to optimize value for the design, my friend was more focused on the cost.
“How much will this cost me for the design and the construction so I can know how to raise the funds” he said.
While I educated him that it was too early to give a cost, it occurred to me that this conversation is not entirely out of ignorance but due to a general misconception about money, value and a variety of other returns that surround human endeavours. My response would have determined if he would go ahead with the project as planned or if he would have to “secure more bags”, further committing himself to the blind pursuit of money while missing the opportunities the timing would have provided.
A couple of weeks earlier, while sharing developments about some promising proposal in progress with someone, I couldn't but notice the disappointment when all the interesting talk ended without a mention of payment or fees.
They shrugged and asked;
“And …what about payment?”
I just smiled and walked away.
‘You dunno wharis goinon’ lol.
Yes, money makes the world go round, or so the saying goes. This we know. But recently, there seems to be an intentional disregard for anything that does not bring money, a total devaluation of everything else in the search for money and financial gains. Everywhere we turn, we're bombarded with messages about the importance of “making the dough," “catching the bag,” and "blowing." Whether it's through social media influencers flaunting their wealth or ads promising to help us "get rich quick." It's easy to get caught up in the allure of chasing the bag, but what happens when we sacrifice other important aspects of our lives for money?
I don’t want to sound like my pastor dad by referring to it as “worship of money.” but it is what it is.
Especially when the obsession with "getting the bag" often stems from a misconstrued interpretation of success. We have made ourselves believe that financial gain equates to success, and that the amount of money we have is a representation of our ambition and drive. Our generation has made itself believe that success is directly tied to the amount of money we make, leading many of us to prioritize financial gain above all else. The idea has left us feeling like our worth is solely determined by our bank account balance, and we've been conditioned to believe that the pursuit of money is the only way to achieve true success.
“If you nor get money, hide your face”, so the popular Naija song says.
This narrow view of success has proven to be limiting and detrimental to our overall well-being. It is the reason many of us have sacrificed our relationships, mental health, and personal growth, often leaving us feeling unfulfilled and disconnected from our passions and purpose. And as much as we always love to blame the society for this, the truth remains that we always have a choice, a choice between adding value to people, businesses, and relationships.
We have adopted a “how much is in it for me?” method instead of “what value does this bring to us?” in how we do things in business, relationships, interactions, and life itself. Many times at the initiation of new relationships, even prospective business interactions, we rush to quickly ignore what other value than money we can bring into this relationship. Without considering what values we can add to our businesses to make customers’ experiences better, we don't even seek to make interactions meaningful anymore, we are just there filtering and scanning for any prospects of financial gain before making any good effort.
This obsession with money has created a culture that values material possessions over meaningful experiences and has led to a generation that is struggling to find true happiness and fulfilment. By concentrating on and prioritizing the pursuit of money above all else, we have neglected other important aspects of their lives, such as relationships, hobbies, and personal growth.
“If e nor be money, do not disturb me please” a line from AG baby’s ‘It is what it is’ comes to mind, but we will come to the song later.
The most painful effect of this movement is the effect it has on personal growth. This narrow view of success that stems from equating financial gain with achievement has had a significant impact on personal growth, creativity, and passion. Growing up, many of us were influenced by the desires of those around us for us to make “good” money and be comfortable in our choices of a career, passion, and interest. In some cases, the choice of extracurricular activities is based on the potential they have to make money for the individual. For many, getting the bag has blindsided their personal development goals and passions. The domino effect is first, a general lack of creativity and innovation, as individuals become solely focused on achieving external measures of success rather than exploring their inner desires and pursuing their passions.
Secondly, we have a multitude of individuals feeling unfulfilled and disconnected from their sense of purpose and passion. For example, a person who is passionate about art may find themselves abandoning their artistic pursuits to pursue a more financially rewarding career path, despite their artistic passion. Over time, this leads to a feeling of stagnation and frustration, as they realize they have sacrificed their personal growth and creativity for financial gain.
As we are focused on meeting up with the external measures of success, we neglect our inner growth and development. This can lead to a lack of self-awareness, emotional intelligence, and interpersonal skills, which are crucial for personal growth and success in all areas of life. Let's not even get started with how this affects happiness.
Maybe we should talk about how this is now one of the reasons why we have a generation that suffers from emotional and mental health, with very long-term negative consequences. The never-ending pressure to constantly achieve financial success can lead to feelings of emptiness, loneliness, and disconnection from oneself and others. Leading to anxiety, stress, and depression, particularly when people feel like they are not meeting societal expectations or are falling behind their peers. The constant comparison to others and the pressure to keep up with the lifestyles of social media influencers can also contribute to feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem. Ultimately, this narrow view of success has resulted in a lack of fulfilment and a sense of meaninglessness in life, with long-term negative effects on mental health and emotional well-being.
Let's not forget the impact this has had on relationships. The “get the bag” energy has led to a neglect of personal relationships. With money as the sole focus, we have prioritized only things that have financial gain over time with loved ones, causing strained and frustrated relationships. What we have is a mob of vibrant youth that chun out work for fees, wages, or salaries but lack emotional connection, emotional intelligence, and responsibility.
Meanwhile, if we will just calm down and remember that, in reality, success is a multifaceted concept that encompasses many areas of life, including relationships, creativity, mental health, and personal growth. By redefining success and prioritizing a holistic approach to life, we can find true fulfilment and happiness beyond just the accumulation of wealth.
Let me share a recent lesson I learned from reading "Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear" by Elizabeth Gilbert. It explores a different aspect of Gilbert's philosophy on creative living. She shares insights on the value of pursuing creative endeavours for their own sake, rather than solely for financial gain or external recognition, and the potential this has to bring joy, meaning, and purpose to one's life. She asks us to embrace our curiosity and let go of needless suffering. She discusses the attitudes, approaches, and habits we need in order to live our most creative lives.
The book emphasizes the importance of pursuing creative endeavours (or, as in this case, all relationships, businesses, and interactions) for their own sake rather than solely for financial gain. According to Gilbert, when individuals focus too heavily on the “external” rewards of their creative pursuits, they risk losing sight of the joy and fulfilment that come from the act of creating itself. In contrast, when individuals approach their creative work with a sense of playfulness and curiosity, and focus on the joy and wonder of the creative process, they are more likely to produce work that is authentic, meaningful, and fulfilling. Gilbert's philosophy emphasizes the need to shift our focus from the end result to the process itself, finding meaning and purpose in the act of creation rather than solely in the financial gain it may bring. She further encourages uncovering the “strange jewels” that are hidden within each of us, to “embark on a dream long deferred” (play the long-term game), or simply infuse our everyday lives with more mindfulness and passion.
Drawing insights from the book, I will wrap up with this.
Most times, when we are provided with new opportunities, the opportunities themselves come with loads of potential, success, and victories. And to maximize these opportunities, all we need to do is calm down, focus, and listen. Pay attention! When ideas present themselves, they try to get our attention. They bounce around us with the hope that we will see them, they manifest themselves through our environment, interactions, passions, and interests, and all we need to catch them is simply paying attention. However, because we are unfortunately focused on the immediate financial gains, we miss the ideas, become oblivious to them, and fail to maximize the full potential of these opportunities.
This explains why, when we review or go over certain interactions and relationships in retrospect, it is only then that we notice the opportunities that we have missed. They have always been there, but we didn't pay attention to them because we were focused on the least of them all.
Agreed, people will take advantage of you when they know you are not focused on the money, but if we prioritize value over cash and allow the happiness, joy and fulfilment that come with the creative and passionate expression of what we love to do to overshadow the need to “meet up with expectations”, I believe that we will live a better life and the world will be a better place.
I promised to come back to AG’s ‘It is what it is’. The message of the song really resonates with this post. Even though a line of the chorus still warns to back off if your “advice” will not bring him money. The song reiterates the importance of not paying much attention to “external” opinions or seeking to meet up with “external” expectations, as shared in this post. By seeking peace and contentment, we will be alright.
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If you're ready to explore how to find fulfilment beyond money, it's time to start taking action. Consider volunteering your time, learning a new skill, or focusing on relationships that bring joy to your life. Remember, money can buy temporary happiness, but true fulfilment comes from within. So, take the first step towards a more fulfilling life today.