Finances, Marriage, Rethink Happy

The American Dream: Is the grass really greener?

moneyWhat about Bob?
Bob has a job paying him $12/hour, but he wants that new car, and another company offered him $15/hour. He moves, and six months later, he is offered a job with another company for $16/hour. He is so tempted to take it because he wants to appear to have grabbed The American Dream and succeeded. What is your advice in situations like this?
I always like to think big before making any job change. Where am I ultimately heading? What do I want to make? Am I in a career and on a path to make that kind of money? Is money my main concern or is the culture of the company or who my direct supervisor is more important?
Does this company have a more clear career path and the potential for making more down the road even though short-term I could make more with a different company? Once the big picture thoughts have been written down, it’s time to discuss this with my brain trust. If you don’t have one, get one.
My brain trust consists of my wife first, then many others including family, friends and fellow entrepreneurs. If I am entering a new space I sometimes seek out a mentor I don’t know. Then I share my goals/thoughts with them and get realistic feedback on what my current objectives should be in order to reach that goal as well as if it’s realistic.
And the answer is…
The answer for Bob may very well be to keep the $15/hr job. I personally don’t like the idea of bouncing around so often. It looks bad on a resume and you likely haven’t received enough education and on-the-job experience to have progressed in your field. I like a minimum of two years unless there is a specific and compelling reason to leave sooner. Here is an example:
When my wife and I were Family-Teachers at Boys Town, living with 8 at-risk boys my wife was pregnant with our fourth child. They do not allow Family-Teachers to keep their jobs with four biological children. And with good reason- it’s too much. So we knew we had to leave. We also knew that when I looked for another job, the employer would expect me to be ready to start relatively soon after interviewing.
FamilyWell, we didn’t want to leave the boys so quickly that they didn’t have a suitable couple to transition into our home. So I took a job at Boys Town in Staff Evaluation. But I knew that pay-wise and potential-wise it would likely not work out long-term. But Kate and I figured the health of our boys outweighed the likely quick exit I would make.
Interestingly, it took Boys Town six months from giving notice to find a suitable replacement couple! I am not sure what would have happened to our boys if we had left to take a job outside Boys Town sooner than this.
What about when you lose? Can a loss bring you happiness/joy?
Perspective is everything. Many say we either win or learn. Generally, this is a good way of looking at it. Again, there are some wide variations within what losing means. I suppose the ultimate business loss is to declare bankruptcy. I, fortunately, have not been through this before, but I do know some who have.
Most have been able to start over and do great things. I believe Dan Sullivan, regarded as one of the greatest entrepreneur coaches of all time, lost everything and had to start over. Now he runs the highly successful Strategic Coach program. As long as you don’t give up, The American Dream is always still within reach. And, again, simply enjoying financial success or what The American Dream signifies isn’t the primary reason for joy anyway. It can help. But it’s not the essence of it.
Why do things always look better for the other guy? Better looking family, newer model car, business more successful?bigger-house
We don’t see the sacrifices that went into achieving this level of success. Or for some reason, we assume the other person had it easier or that they never argue or disagree. Of course, this is a fallacy. Even those who are given everything encounter challenges. No one escapes hardships of some kind. Or if somehow they do, their path to heaven will be a much more difficult one than for those who know what it’s like to bear crosses. “I’ll say it again–it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!” Matthew 19:24
How does having everything or wanting to have everything affect entrepreneurs and husbands today?
People today generally say they want to give their kids more than what they had growing up, no matter what level of poverty or affluence they were raised in. 

I think it’s very easy to get caught up in “never enough” thinking. It’s the like the gambler who starts with $20, then doubles his money to $40, then $80, etc. At some point, he should realize it’s time to walk away from the table. But few do.
Kids today grow up in houses that are their parents 3rd or 4th. Meaning, they never saw the little house they used to have and assume when they grow up they can afford a house just like they had when they were teenagers. This is often simply not doable.
I remember Kate and my first house was literally 20×24. It cost $40,000. My Granddad came over to visit and said his garage was bigger than our house. I used to tell people you know you have a small house when you can plug a vacuum into one outlet and vacuum the whole place. Ha.
IMG_9173Now with five kids and living in our fourth state we own our sixth house (never more than one at a time). And of course, each one, with the exception of the last, was bigger than the one before. So we have fallen prey to this bigger and better philosophy a bit.
I do think it’s generally a good thing to want our kids to have a great life. But I don’t think it’s best to remove all of the work involved. We need to let them figure these things out on their own. If they want something, get a job to pay for it. If they want to graduate from college, get a job and buy a house, then they had better do whatever they can to position themselves in order to afford what it is that they want.
More = better?Rethink Happy cover
I absolutely do not believe the more money or things you have makes you happy. In fact, it may be more likely for someone with less money to be happier than someone who has more. Why? Because having more things means more things that can break or that need maintenance. More things to worry about means less time to think about the things that matter.
Things can easily replace relationships. Things take time. And time is precious. And if we aren’t setting aside time for prayer and planning and relationship building with the most important people around us we are kidding ourselves if we think this is bringing us authentic joy. Fleeting moments of pleasure? Sure. But not lasting authentic joy.
Who is Doug? Doug Kisgen is an author, entrepreneur and personality expert. His primary work? Raising his five kids with his wife of 20+ years in the hill country of Texas. 

For ways to put these ideas into practice, check out Doug’s book, Rethink Happy: An Entrepreneur’s Journey Toward Authentic Joy, available now as an e-book or in paperback!


  • Very Nice Doug! You have great insight from a wealth of experience. It’s rare to meet a genuine author that actually practices what he preaches. I definitely have to read more now.

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