The trifecta of adult life success


Here is the trifecta of adult life success, as I interpret the views of the community at large – that is, most adults in your immediate environment, and/or your friends and family, and/or most of the people on your so-called Facebook friend list:

1. At least two children – one could have been a lucky shot; a second proves it wasn’t

2. More money that you need for basic survival – it doesn’t matter if you inherited the money or if you won it with a scratch card

3. You do something interesting – can be your career, or anything else that is more or less a challenge

If these criteria are accepted, I know very few truly successful people. I almost always see myself as less successful than most of my contemporaries because we don’t have children, and because I only make a little more money than I need for my survival. But I know quite a few people with two children, not much money, and they don’t do anything interesting; also people with money, but they have only one child, and they also don’t do anything that I will regard as moderately interesting.


To move this discussion one step away from mere campfire talk, it has to be mentioned that there are a few exceptions that may upset this formula.

There is the case of wealthy parents who do interesting work and who lead interesting lives, but one of their three children becomes a murderer, or a drug addict, or both.

There is the man or woman with money, who leads an interesting life, who has two or three children, but who still falls victim to a midlife crisis and say things like, “I wanted to do so much more at this stage of my life.”

And then there is the father of two children, who earns a lot of money and who, at least in his own opinion does interesting work, whose daughter is friends with the daughter of the CEO of an international conglomerate, who often goes abroad for interesting projects and who owns a villa in the south of France. “Why can’t Dad make more money so that we can also spend summers in France?” is the kind of request that would cause the man to occasionally doubt whether he really does as well as he sometimes thinks he does.