Seems like such a trivial question. How could being rich not change your life? Well, I have been doing some thinking lately, and it appears to me that if all of a sudden I became rich my life wouldn't change a whole lot.
So, first of all, how would I become rich? Not by playing the lottery, that's for sure. I never play since the chances of winning are astronomical, and the way that lotteries make money is by taking more money than they pay out. It's a sucker's bet. I am also not talking about the slow accumulation of wealth over a life time. Most people that gain wealth in this way don't gain enough to go crazy at retirement. The most likely way for me to hit it big - and the chances are not very big - is for my company, or one that I work for in the future to become a huge success and for my stock options to become extremely valuable. Here in Silicon Valley this is (not such) a remote possibility.
So back to my original line of thinking. Here's why I don't think that my life would change dramatically: my CEO (who is my direct boss) is a serial entrepreneur. Two of his previous companies went public and a third was acquired. The man is probably worth hundreds of millions of Dollars - and I am not exaggerating. Every day we work together closely at the office. His day is very similar to mine. I mean, if you are that rich, and you still spend most of your time working with the likes of me.... your life is not THAT different. You could say that he is an exception, but that just wouldn't be true. One of our Board members was a Fortune 500 CEO. He is extremely wealthy. He spends his days investing in start-ups and attending board meetings. Another was the CTO of a Fortune 500 and the President of another - he is also extremely wealthy. He too spends his days in much the same way. My good friend's brother recently sold his start-up to IBM for hundreds of millions of Dollars. His cut was several millions. He still goes to work every day. I have many other examples.
This is both encouraging and annoying simultaneously. On the one hand, you could say that I am living like the rich and famous (well, at least as work goes...) On the other hand, we all go to the office every day... I guess it's a personality thing. There are some people that just need to be in the center of things. They can't sit on the sidelines.
The one thing that would change, I suspect, is my level of anxiety. If I were truly financially independent, I wouldn't worry about the prospects of losing my job or of an economic downturn. Another thing that might change would be my vacations - I could and probably would take some extravagant vacations - although our vacations are not half bad as it is.
I guess this all makes you think. We are all so obsessed about amassing wealth that we don't very often stop and seriously think about how it would change our lives, if at all... and if not, is it really worth all the effort? Well, probably yes... :-)
But I am keeping an open mind.