Work For the Pursuit of Money or Happiness? | SportsEpreneur

Work For the Pursuit of Money or Happiness?

The Strategy Addict | “Work For the Pursuit of Money or Happiness” is part of a series of articles written by Shane Snively

We have done a lot of podcasts at SportsEpreneur. I get a little something from all of them, but this podcast hit me emotionally like no other. It’s not every day a man speaking can just bring me to tears in a second, and he did. The “he” I am referring to is Dan McGovern of Yes I Can Basketball. Coach Mac, as he is known to many, provides a glimpse into a man who really loves what he does, who displays pure happiness, and who is on fire with an amazing purpose.

For those of you who know me, I had an amazing relationship with my father. So, the stories Coach Mac brings up about the “Track Star and His Father” and Coach Mac’s relationship with his dad, both just took me back to times with my dad. I am not going to give away the lesson learned here, you are going to have to listen for yourself, but it is something that will stick with you forever.

Coach Mac’s personal life lessons made me stop and pause to ask the question:

Is it better to work in something that makes you money, but leaves you with little or no fulfillment? Or to take a risk and maybe make little to no money and do something you love?

If you are on the fence at all with this question, you really should listen to what Coach Mac has to say about the risks he took and how it has paid off at “Yes I Can Basketball.” Even if his life endeavor did not work out the way he wanted, if he fell flat on his face, he would tell you it was worth doing.  

It’s kind of easy for me to agree because I am happy now living out my dreams. It was not always the case, and I can tell you the one variable, it’s something we all have to overcome in life.  


The desire for happiness is outweighed by fear. Fear comes in all shapes and sizes. Giving up something you have for the pursuit of something better is tough. What happens if it does not work out? You go bankrupt—what about your kids, your family, whatever else.  

Fear = Stagnation

So, how does one overcome this stumbling block of fear? What are you afraid of? Why?

It is very easy to think of the cause and effect relationship behind most fears.

For example, when I was a kid delivering newspapers, I was chased by a huge dog. Thankfully I outran it on my bike, but for the longest time whenever I saw a dog, I was scared.

Was this a rational fear? Based on the sequence of inputs, the outcome makes sense, but should one sequence of events forever define the outcome of our equations? No? Why not?

What we learn is that each new encounter can develop multiple hybrid theses.  

Some big dogs are scary. Some big dogs are friendly. Some big dogs love to be petted. What about medium size dogs, small dogs, etc. Over time our experiences start defining a new reality; not all dogs are scary. 

Probability Theory

Think of the sequence discussed above as multiple lines of an equation. For each event, you measure the outcome. Each outcome was derived from a subset of sequences and parameters.  

Probability theorists try to explain or decipher different axioms (variables) in terms of probability of re-occurrence vs randomness. Over time, these are built to try and explain and answer even the unanswerable questions that have stumped us forever, such as which comes first, the chicken or the egg?

The premise of the theory is if you can get the proper sequence, with the triggering events laid out properly, you can predict an outcome with greater certainty. The inverse is also true—that if things are put in the wrong sequence you can predict the probability of a negative outcome as well.

As a strategy addict, I have always studied relationships. It is why I loved sociology and economics, taking math and trying to explain human behavior.   

So, let’s get to it!  Let us try and solve our fear thesis.


I contend that the sequence of career selection, staying in a job, is not driven with the pursuit of happiness at all, it is not even in most people’s equations. Therefore, if the variable is not declared in the decision process it has very little chance of being a predictable outcome in the future. Happiness at that point becomes random at best.  

My thesis might not match yours, and if so then bear with me; the point is coming. When I talked to teachers, parents, friends, etc., what they were going to do, or why they did what they did, all of them, outside of maybe a priest or two, told me that they were doing what they did because it was their lifelong dream and it made them happy. The variable was never defined in a way that it should have been, at least for me, maybe the entire time it was some implied thing that I was supposed to be thinking about but I did not.

I think we should have all stopped and started to define these questions in school or at home. What does happiness look like?  What would make me happy? What outcomes could really lead to long-lasting fulfillment and purpose in my life? I think the system is not set up to discuss these variables, it takes a high degree of self-actualization to know these types of things, especially as a young man or woman entering college. My wife, for example, always wanted to be a doctor. She just knew it was a part of her DNA, she loves it, it is her life purpose, but I didn’t have that certainty. I think she is the rarity.

Personally, when I set out to decide what I wanted to be when I grew up, I was not driven by happiness at all. In fact, I promise you it was 100% fear. The path was driven by not wanting to be left behind, unable to get a job, unable to make enough money to live. Everyone said, Shane, if you are going to make it in this world, you must get a degree. Notice it was not Shane, you should go and pursue your purpose and find happiness. Maybe if it was framed as go to college to pursue your happiness, to discover, or open your mind, it would have been different. Instead, all I heard was, hurry up, declare a major, get in a program. Very scary proposition, especially when you are paying for your own education. 

Then came the wake-up call; Joe, my brother, died of Cystic Fibrosis one year after his double lung transplant. I had no dreams, no passion identified yet, so what did I do, I started playing cards all day, drank too much, and stopped going to class, the classes I was paying for—not the best ROI. 

In my case, fear drove a lot of my decisions. Live events. Life experiences. I joined the USAF because two of my friends joined the Army. They said Shane, come down to Fayetteville, join the Air Force. You are lost, so they will tell you what to do. Nothing drives your decision process more than when someone starts screaming at you at 5:00 AM sharp. My point here is the narrative matters, what are you told, you should do this, do that, or in some cases what you have to go through to start having and developing convictions in your life. Saying you can be anything you want to be does not equate to anything when you are young.  

My journey was so unconventional. My walk is more scientific method. Total trial and error. I feel mine sometimes was God truly putting things in a sequence for me that kept teaching me over and over lessons that developed my passions, each pursuit grew me to the next stage until I really had no choices left in my mind but to go for it.

In terms of my sequence of events, I feel the triggers flow as such: Experiences drive learning, Learning drives your Convictions, which drives you to have Purpose, which drives your pursuit to find and go for Happiness. True Happiness cannot be measured monetarily and as such, people will adjust their lifestyle to accommodate the Happiness they pursue. I talk with people every day who stopped learning or pursuing knowledge the minute they got their first job, their first career. They stopped experiencing or pursuing new things. It is like they went dormant. The pursuit of ultimate happiness is a cycle repeated over and over.  

It is my contention that happiness is not a stagnant target. In fact, it flows, from our goals.  

Declared Variables:

What comes in this section is a glimpse into how I think. If you need to come back to this part later, I won’t be offended!

P = Probability (High or Low) our goal is to identify things that show a higher probability of success or even failure. Getting a failure ironically can help define your future success. Think about it, knowing what not to do in the future helps guide your path. Barring you know what you did in terms of how you did what you did, that it was not just random.

P ( A | B | C | D ) = Probability of event A given event B given C given D, I like to call these things daisy chains, they are the sequence of probability, tons of studies are done in moving around these variables, or in some cases skipping them, eliminating them, for example, if you could skip from D to A maybe you have created a new operational efficiency somehow. That usually equates to new profit somewhere.  

E = Expected Value (Preferred Outcome) This is your thesis in terms of what is it you are trying to prove out, our expected outcome is that if you follow this daisy chain of events in the particular sequence I layout you will see a direct relationship between being ultimately happy and having enough money.

ρ(X,Y)  = Correlation(ρ) between X and Y

(X,Y) = to the different variables that you want to see a relationship with to prove your thesis, + or –

So for simplicity sake, I am setting my E to equal = X , and Y will be = Enough Money

A = Happiness, B = Purpose, C = Convictions D = Experience

Our Life Equation: ρ(X+,Y+)  = X = E = P ( A | B | C |D)

Why Experience to start?

As you learn, reading, listening to audiobooks, podcasts, etc., you start internalizing all the information, in part, you start developing opinions about the information you consume. Every life event, every challenge, molds you if you learn from it. The more you try new things, consume more content, the more you start gravitating to things you enjoy listening to, that inspire you, that give you a feeling both negative or positive in some cases. Over time these feelings start to develop more of a narrative in your mind that starts you into a movement. This movement is defined as inertia for my purposes, which bleeds into the next event, Convictions.  

Strong Convictions?

Close your eyes and imagine how you envision the word convictions in terms of physical movement and motion. 

  • Are you moving forward?
  • Are you moving backward?
  • Are you stagnate, motionless?

I can have a lot of different opinions on things, without having a strong Conviction. Conviction equates to more than opinion. It is a movement. The stronger the Conviction, the faster you go towards or away from your goals. Having strong convictions though can be very good and very bad in terms of where you are in your life. In the case of working just for the money, those convictions can be hugely strong, go get those “duckets” (slang for money), the money, go get the new car, the new house, work, work, work, but without a Purpose, something you enjoy doing you fully never reach a state of happiness. I have made a lot of money, lost a lot of money, but in terms of them creating a systemic vision of purpose for my life, it never has. The lack of money per se could have contributed to the initial motivation to educate but having it does not lead to an actual purpose that drives you into a happier state. The stronger and stronger your convictions become in one area, the time and energy spent in others become less, which essentially, pushes people out of the short-term decision-making part of their mind, that instant gratification, and pushes them deeper into the realms of something more spiritual like your faith, family, these things become more of a calling, which given these events leads to your Purpose.


I have never met anyone who is driven by a greater purpose who is not happy in terms of career. When you do what you do for a Purpose beyond yourself it is a calling. Not to say at all that a business with some sort of higher purpose is marked for success, but I will tell you even if it fails the person who set out to do it has no regrets. It might change how they serve in that purpose, maybe they go to a different place to do what they were doing, whatever the circumstances are but it is typically something I see that drives them to success. Because purposeful people continue to rinse and repeat the sequences. They do not stop educating themselves, they continue to read more, listen more, consume more content, which drives, new ideas, more convictions, and even more purpose. I stopped looking at work as work a long time ago—I function on a plane of fun and unexpected challenges that by focusing on my Purpose, to honor God in everything I do and that by helping others I can bring glory to Him, it really makes life easier. Who would not love the opportunity to get to help people live out their dreams? It’s insane.

Enough Money:

When you are driven by Purpose, the purpose is your focus. When you do what you do at the intense level of being purposeful, the byproduct is higher production and improved precision. Don’t go into things depending on someone else’s level of understanding; read more, study more, develop yourself more. Have a passion for what it is you are doing; if not, how are you ever really going to be successful? When adversity arises, your convictions will not be there and you will fold fast, you won’t want to take the risk. Life is full of risks and rewards; do you really want to be the person sitting on the fence of regret, knowing that every second the real passion in your life is just sitting there?  

The less you focus on money, the more your focus on your Purpose will drive you. The byproduct of being focused on the Purpose is effectiveness in what you end up doing. Being more effective in most situations can lead to more money, promotion, and ultimately happiness. Remember, enough money is defined by you. It starts with the car you drive, the apartment or house you buy, the decisions you make. The key to happiness is being Grateful. We should be grateful for the opportunity to define our own purpose in life. If you have never seen this TED talk it is a must-see. You will not be disappointed.

The image sticks with me even as am I writing this. Remember, as he stated:

Opportunity comes every second we are still breathing.

It is not too late to go for it. Coach Mac did and look at what has happened in his life. This man exudes joy, he has it figured out. If you are sitting on the fence, get off it. If you just lost your job due to what is going on in the world, start now, read, listen, research, dive deeper. The more you grow and learn, the more your convictions will grow, the more you will gain purpose, happiness—and, by the way, make enough money to rinse and repeat over and over again. 


Shane P. Snively, MBA, MA, CBC, RFC #thestrategyaddict