The Triangle of Opportunity: Funding Your Dreams

What’s Driving Your Success?

I was talking about happiness the other day with my friend Marc Cordon. As a positive psychology guru, I invited him to join me live on Facebook for Zen Money Monday because I think our mental approach to our business is so critical and I wanted to share Marc’s insights. It’s the piece of the puzzle that will make or break our success (however we choose to define it). It was a fun conversation and when I asked what Zen Money means to him, we opened the door to a new way of talking about our goals and dreams…The Triangle of Opportunity!

Marc defined Zen Money as “maximum happiness capacity, maximum money capacity, and living a life without regrets.” Which I love! But before that final answer, we dove into a little academic discussion…

The Triangle of Opportunity: An Explanation

There’s a Purdue University study that shows that money can buy happiness (from an income standpoint)…up to a certain point. We cap out on the “money = happiness” quotient at around $95,000 of income. (Check out this article reviewing the study for more detail.) Basically, anything above that doesn’t imply deeper life satisfaction. Up until that point, having more money can directly influence our sense of well-being. This was based on a standard employee income scenario. As entrepreneurs, we want to look at our take-home version of that, including taxes.

A lot of my clients and quite possible you reading this, are making a lot of more money than that, or on a growth trend to far exceed the “happiness number.” So what does this mean for the driven entrepreneur? Should we slow down? Is the drive for financial success the wrong one? I say no, absolutely not! It’s what we do with it that counts.

an open window

A open window

The big question is what do we do with everything above that $95,000 income number? Here’s how I visualize it: we have an increasing income line. Depending on how we run our business and the financial decisions we make, there’s potential for exponential growth. Which means everything above the “happiness number” is a window of opportunity. That top half of your income trajectory is where the magic happens, if we let it.

In The Zen Money Map I talk about the importance of tying our work and our business success not only to our personal pockets but also to our big missions and passions. For so many entrepreneurs I know, looking at the numbers becomes exciting when we can tie it to your wildest dreams – those BHAGs (big, hairy, audacious goals) – of creating massive change in the world. To me, having solid financial strategies to fund those goals and dreams is at the core of Zen Money. And it’s where the fun part of your financial work is found.

It can be hard to want to look at our finances, and easy to hope for the best without truly utilizing our money (our resources in general) to its full potential. However, when we look at the financial potential created by our work – that can support our missions and purpose, if we let it – we start to get excited about new ideas and ways to grow. We see possibility, which is what we all crave and are really (secretly?) hoping money can give us.

So while money can’t necessarily buy us happiness, there is massive opportunity to utilize our financial success in life changing ways. Not just our own, but on a greater level and in a way that is truly rewarding. This Triangle of Opportunity is where we can play and create, and it is the source of satisfaction as well as potential good deeds.

bottom line

Bottom Line

The Triangle of Opportunity is a place to dream. It’s the place where we can maximize our impact so when we look back on our time here, it’s with a feeling of fulfillment at a life well lived. What are you doing with your triangle of opportunity? Are you utilizing it to its full potential? Do you know how big it is and how to make it count? These are the questions I believe are at the heart of our financial work. Not just the day-to-day “ticky tacky” bookkeeping and tax work, but creating strategies that in turn create the world we want to live in – on personal, community, and global levels.

And it can all start with making a commitment to becoming good stewards of our financial resources and as entrepreneurs using our money to its best advantage – in our business, in our personal lives, and ultimately to forward our big missions.

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