Editor’s Note:  I usually put an indication at the end of a post whether it is a guest post, however, considering the title I felt like notice should be moved up.  This was a guest post from Corey at Passive Income to Retire, where he tracks his progress to retire by the age of 27.

In our society the middle class often aspire to become millionaires. Becoming a millionaire is often a sign of accomplishment. It is an indication of financially security. I know that I usually see it this way. Whether its my upbringing or society’s influence on me, I think of a million dollars and can’t help but ask the “what if” questions. Oh, how life would be different, right?

Yet, as I think critically about becoming a millionaire, I realize that this is a false image. Having a million dollars does not equal financial security and you don’t need Nicholas Cage’s financial failures as an example to tell you this. While growing up, I used to think that having a million dollars would be a sign of success, now I look at it differently.

A Helpful Image of Middle Class Millionaires

There are many great examples of everyday individuals who achieved their “millionaire” status. There is the popularized, ‘millionaire next door’ – the idea that your neighbor works hard for their entire life, saves his/her precious earnings, and is rewarded at an older age with financial security. This large nest egg allows the millionaire to do the things that they were unable to do for their entire life. Because of their sacrifice, they end up becoming a millionaire from all of their savings and it’s possible that you don’t even know it.

This example is often used to teach us that anyone can become a millionaire. If you dedicate enough discipline and avoid the luxury items, you too can achieve this financial security. It teaches us to prepare for the future.

Why I Don’t Aspire to Be a Millionaire

Even though this image can be helpful in teaching us discipline and delaying gratification, I also find it disenchanting. The part that is often overlooked in this story is that the individual is forced to miss out on common experiences throughout his/her life. For example, my grandfather worked his entire life and was quite financially secure in his old age. He often talked of how he never took time off from work, rarely took vacations, and not once traveled outside of the U.S. Did he have financial security because of his sacrifice through life? Absolutely, but at what costs?

The idea of aiming to become a millionaire also seems to contribute to the mentality that is the root of financial disaster. I want to suggest that by aspiring to be a millionaire, one not only misses out on life, but also becomes entirely focused on what they could do with it. As a result, they lose sight of financial responsibility and even security. Think about the last time you answered the question, “What would you do with a million dollars?” I bet you didn’t answer, live modestly and try to help others. Most likely (although I could be wrong) it began with, “I would first buy…”

When I look at my life goals, I no longer aim to become a millionaire. Instead, I am actively pursuing means to create passive income streams that will allow me to further enjoy life by not being forced to work a 9-to-5 job. Yes, I still plan to contribute money towards long term savings as I go along, but I don’t plan to work my entire life away for some false sense of security. Instead I hope to have enough money coming in from my business ideas that I can quit my day job in the next year or two.

After quitting my day job, I hope to work on expanding to the point that I can pay others to manage my business(es) while sustaining or even increasing my net income. This will make my income purely passive and give me the freedom to do whatever I want. This is all part of my early retirement plan. This will certainly take a lot of effort, but I would much rather work now to create systems that will allow me to enjoy life while I am young, rather than wait my entire life to do the things that I wasn’t able to do. In aiming for a cash flow instead of an arbitrary figure, I am setting a different priority. I may end up becoming a millionaire in this process, but it is far from being a goal of mine. I would much rather focus on creating a cash flow from passive income than making sacrifices that I will regret later.

Do you want to become a millionaire? What does it represent for you?