For many, achieving a high net worth and quitting work to live a life of luxury is the ultimate dream. And some millionaires do just that – retire and live off their accumulated wealth, income streams, investments, with guidance from their financial advisors. But a surprising number of millionaires continue to work long after they need to. This raises the “million dollar question”: why do the wealthy keep working even after they’ve made a fortune?
Let’s explore several reasons why millionaires continue to work, including passion for their work, desire for achievement, and building a legacy. We will see why, for many millionaires, work is about more than just a paycheck.
It’s Not About the Money
In order to understand the motivation behind why millionaires continue to work, it’s helpful to divide millionaires into two groups: entrepreneurs and “accidental” millionaires.
The first type of millionaire, the entrepreneur millionaire is a special breed of person who “derives transcendent meaning from capitalism,” according to tech entrepreneur and author Antonio Garcia Martínez. In other words, they enjoy working and are driven to increase their net worth. For these millionaires, like Jeff Bezos or the late Steve Jobs, vision and profit is ingrained in their DNA.
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By contrast, the second type of millionaire is not simply defined by their work and wealth. These millionaires came to their wealth through inheritance, bonuses, stock options, or simply by having a high salaried career and investing smartly. It’s this group that is the most interesting. They are the least likely to define themselves by their career, yet many continue to show up at work.
While that may seem counterintuitive, there are many reasons that can explain this phenomenon. Here are a few:
- Passion for the Work: Many millionaires are not just successful businesspeople — they are passionate about what they do and how they built their business. This love for their work keeps them motivated to keep going, and to continue improving their company.
- The Thrill of Achievement: The joy of conquering a challenge, reaching a new milestone, or simply excelling in their field can be a driving force for many wealthy individuals.
- Continuous Learning: Success often goes hand-in-hand with a thirst for knowledge. Many millionaires are adaptive learners, always eager to acquire new skills or expand their areas of expertise.
- Staying Relevant: In a rapidly changing world, even the richest can find themselves left behind if they are not keeping up with new trends, technologies, and ideas. By continuing to work, millionaires ensure they stay in the loop.
- Legacy Building: Some millionaires see their wealth as a means to make a lasting impact. Whether it’s through philanthropy or influencing their field, working allows them to build a legacy that goes beyond just being rich.
- Job Satisfaction: Lastly, many wealthy individuals find fulfillment in working for an organization that creates a positive impact. They may stay at their jobs because they feel their contributions make a meaningful difference in the world.
By the early 2000s, Microsoft had created thousands of “accidental” millionaires, thanks to stock options. However, very few of them chose to retire early. Many stayed with the company, presumably because they were already working in their dream jobs.
But what about those who chose to leave Microsoft? They were mindful about how they spent their time and what they did with their money, using their newfound wealth to pursue their passions. One opened a literary center, another became a renowned blues guitarist, and countless others founded their own companies.
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Continuing to Grow
For many millionaires, working is about more than making money – it’s a platform for continued growth and learning, pursuing passions, influencing others, and securing a legacy by creating generational wealth.
If you are recently retired, it’s beneficial to work with a knowledgeable financial planner. Blankinship & Foster, financial advisors for retirees can provide personalized guidance, help you develop a comprehensive financial strategy, and optimize your financial outcomes.
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