The 3 Attitudes about Money – and How to Change Yours by Chris Jarvis, MBA, CFP®

Have you ever looked for something and felt foolish when you found it? This happens to me more than I should admit. Sometimes my glasses are on top of my head, my keys are in my hand, or my phone is in my pocket. After 25 years working with the wealthiest families and most successful business owners, it happened on an even grander scale.  

You’ve likely heard the phrase, “the grass always greener on the other side.”  This is often used to describe places to live, jobs, or relationships.  What surprised me is that this is true even for the richest and most successful people. I have a pretty good size sample, having worked with thousands of clients and their advisors.

Would it surprise you to hear that there are three kinds of people – and all of them have issues with money?  Would you be surprised to hear that my experience is that each group is looking for something…else.

There are three types of people looking for greener grass.

They don’t have it, and want it
They have it, and want more of it
They have every variety of “it,” but really want something else!

I will age myself by saying that I recall a bumper sticker that read, “I just want a chance to prove that money won’t make me happy.” Today, you could claim to have seen a meme, post, Tweet or Snap! with countless shares and likes saying the same thing. If you aren’t convinced, check out your social media. Look for a story about a wealthy person who made a significant donation to some charity. As you scroll down the comments, there will undoubtedly be people who criticize the donor, saying things like:

“He’s/she’s only doing it for the tax savings”

“What’s a $10,000,000 donation for a billionaire?”

“It’s easy to give money away when you have everything.”

I once heard an interview with a woman whose net worth was $200,000,000. She had recently lost her husband. When asked what the hardest part of her loss was. She responded, “The lack of empathy. I lost my soulmate. People assumed because I had a lot of money that my loss was easier to deal with because of wealth. I would give it all away to have him back – but I can’t.”

My book, Giraffe Money, gave me opportunities to meet many successful people who have achieved great wealth but were still trying to keep up with the Joneses. Some wanted a bigger house, another vacation property, or a bigger plane. I have had multiple business owners worth more than $60M say that they needed to get to $100M so they could “feel like they actually did something.”

Old habits die hard. Many people credit their competitive nature for their success. The problem is, even after they have accumulated more than enough, they still can’t turn it off. I have heard people promise to sell their businesses or their holdings, to give them more time to devote to their health or to their family, only to turn down an offer because, “the company was worth much more.” They don’t need the money, but they can’t let themselves lose a negotiation.  

A third group of people have sacrificed so much to accumulate wealth. Now, they are searching for ways to regain their health or rebuild important relationships. Every great success comes at a price and it’s all too common to see bonds with friends, spouses, and children weakened by drive for other priorities. I saw this firsthand. My father was a major league baseball pitcher. To say he was focused and determined would be the understatement of the century.

When we had his celebration of life this past summer, there were countless stories that would make a 21st century parent cringe. In grade school, he would break into gyms in the winter to exercise. In high school, he would hitchhike 125 miles to pitch in the Cape Cod league. I developed a great relationship with my dad as an adult, but I don’t believe the rest of my family would say the same thing.

Not all sacrifices are external. Some reflect on life, only to ask themselves, “What did I do all of this for?” A few months ago, I had dinner with a friend who recently sold his company for tens of millions of dollars. After burying his younger brother, he said, “I am reflecting on my life and I feel like I don’t have a sense of purpose or any strong spirituality in my life. It feels like something is missing.”

Whether you have ten dollars or ten million, maybe you can relate.

There are five major areas in life:

  • Health
  • Finances
  • Relationships
  • Career / Purpose
  • Fun

Health includes physical, mental, and emotional elements. It may be simply measured as our abilities to do the things we need to do to survive. At the other end of the spectrum, you may define health as being physically fit, mentally sharp, or emotionally stable. I like to think of health as a measure of my ability to navigate and thrive despite anything the outside world throws at me.

Finances is the ability to pay bills, live without worry about money, and to purchase the things we need. It doesn’t have to mean you have everything you want, but it could.

Relationships may include family, friends, a spouse or partner, children. It could also extend to the people you work with, work for, and even to those who work for you.

Career / Purpose is probably the hardest to describe. At different stages of life, this may change the most. Are you doing something you enjoy? Do you feel like you are utilizing your talents and gifts to do what you were put on this earth to do? Are you moving toward a goal that excites and inspires you and those around you?  Will the people closest to you remember and appreciate you for what you’re doing now?

Fun is different for each of us. It doesn’t mean that you pop marijuana edibles and giggle your way through the day. The big question is, are you able to smile and laugh every day? Do you find joy in enough areas of your life or are you more consumed with stress and aggravation?

Though they may be relatively easy to define, we all view these areas slightly differently. Like fingerprints, or the pattern on a giraffe’s fur, each one of us needs a unique combination of the five that will best suit us. When we don’t get the amount we need or want, we may feel uncomfortable, out of balance, out of sorts, and even a little lost, angry, or frustrated.

Find Your Wild Factor will help you identify the habits, beliefs, and behaviors that keep pulling you further away from what you really want. More importantly, your personalized results will give you practical tips to help you qualitatively understand how to break these habits and quantifiable tools to help you track your progress. The unique combination of recommendations and tools that makes this the simplest and most powerful way to improve your life in a short amount of time.

Chris Jarvis is a bestselling author, financial fixer, and soughtafter speaker.  He helps solves financial problems for wealth families and successful business owners that are looking Beyond Wealth.  His venture studio creates unique investment opportunities, and Find Your Wild Factor gives people valuable life guidance in only 4-minutes.  Learn more at

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