The Millionaire Next Door

Working for Those Aha Career Moments


by Sarah S. Fallaw, Ph.D., Director of Research, AMI Research 

Many successful people report having moments of clarity or EUREKA! experiences when it comes to business opportunities. In fact, 29% of millionaires reported stumbling across a great business opportunity as part of their career path, and 39% reported using intuition for business ideas (see The Millionaire Mind, Chapter 5). For some, intuition and opportunity can lead to lucrative and exciting work. For example, in The Millionaire Mind, Jim lost it all in real estate, only to discover that he was highly successful at managing clubs (a field he never thought he’d be in), and rebuilt his wealth and his career in an unpredictable (for him) way.

However, for Jim, his moment of clarity about his career came after having the training and experiences (and tenacity) to work through difficult times (one being the largest personal bankruptcy in Florida history at the time–and when he was 28). It took hard work, life lessons from his grandmother and others and experience to lead to his career; not exactly wandering aimlessly.

Being ready to choose great career opportunities intelligently, though, requires hard work, experiences (both failures and successes) and working through challenges along the way. In fact, stumbling into a career and not knowing the kinds of careers that are right for you may affect how happy you are on the job, too. In our latest survey, we asked the AMI Research Panel members to respond to questions about career planning and satisfaction. Those who reported “stumbling” into their current careers seem to be less satisfied with their jobs, more likely to report worrying about their current job, and report that their personality, skills, and abilities don’t match the requirements of their current job. These early results complement the research conducted with high net worth individuals that show that planning and key experiences helps you love your career in the future. For examples, see Chapter 5 in The Millionaire Mind: when “opportunities” arise, they are able to make sound decisions based on their experiences, goals and competencies. If you’re not happy in your current job or career, take what you can from the experience. Jim took the colossal failure of his first business venture and turned it into a lucrative career.

Also, for parents out there seeking advice on helping with your child’s career development, take note: our preliminary findings show that women are more likely than men to “stumble” into a career and are less satisfied with their current jobs. Whether this is due to factors such as reduced time for career planning because of family commitments or other reasons is uncertain, but supporting sons and daughters in their career exploration and planning is equally important. This, of course, includes allowing them to experience both successes and failures.

Dr. Sarah Fallaw is the Director of Research
for AMI Research, the research institute founded by Dr.
Thomas J. Stanley. For more information about the ongoing
research being conducted, please visit the
 page and follow Dr. Fallaw on TwitterIf you are interested in participating in future
surveys as a member of the AMI Research Panel, please
click here to register.

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