An introduction to the Happy Fortune Matrix

Some people blissfully live by the doctrine “Just do the things you like and money will follow.” That may be true for some people, but it’s not always the case. Some activities will naturally make money whereas others will always lose money. Yet some jobs are simply torture but they make a ton of money.

Looking at the cases above already show that money isn’t always correlated with like-ability of a job. In scientific terms, money and joy are linearly independent — and when we combine a number of linearly independent things, we get a vector space. With money on one axis and joy on the other, we have a two dimensional plane that I call the “happy fortune matrix”.

Why Matrix?

The word “matrix” is to benefit MBA-graduates and economic majors readers. The Happy Fortune Matrix works quite similar as the BCG Growth-Share Matrix. You use the matrix to analyze your various activities to help you make a decision whether to continue putting efforts in those activities.

Jobquadrant-2011-04-25-12-10.pngThe horizontal axis in the Happy Fortune Matrix is the level of fun that you get when performing the activity. It goes from “despise” in the far left edge and to “enjoy” in the far right. Whereas the vertical axis is the financial side of the activity, it goes from costing money (which costs more as you go down the scale) to making money (and makes more as you go up the scale).

In the matrix you plot your various activities as blobs. The size of each blob represents the amount of effort that you spend in each activity. Feel free to draw ellipses to represent how do you feel about each activity. You can draw a flatter ellipse for jobs that causes mood swings (in other words, more variability of enjoyment) and also you can put a tall ellipse if you have variable-income jobs.

I’ve drawn some of the typical blobs that you’ll find in the Happy Fortune Matrix:

  • The typical job — it’s a so-so between enjoyment and despise but it makes a decent amount of money, which often covers your living costs and that’s why you still keep doing it.
  • The golden handcuff — this is a job that you really hate but it makes a ton of money. If you are in this situation, you’ll want to save as much money as you can from the job because it’s not sustainable. Eventually you’l burn out if you stay in this zone.
  • The heck, a mental and financial torture — sometimes you get caught in a situation that you have to do things that you don’t like and pay money for it. Probably this is due to a past mistake that you’ve done — substance rehabilitation programs and alimonies probably belong in this zone.
  • The hobby — this is the stuff that you love and spend most of your free time with, but it taxes your wallet.
  • The nirvana — the almost mythical area of doing the things that you love and getting paid tons of money for it.

As you can see for yourself, the goal is to eventually push most of your activities into the nirvana quadrant, by minimizing the unhappy stuff and controlling the costs of the stuff in the hobby area.

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