If You Won The Lottery, You Would...
We've all had the dream where the bouncing white balls in the glass orb line up perfectly or the numbers we picked magically materialize in the exact order we predicted to set us up for life. Millions of dollars are coming our way, and we don't have to worry about anything anymore.
We've won the lotto. Ahhh...the life that would await us...
But the odds of winning the MegaMillions are 1 in 135,145,920, so don't hold your breath and get back to work.
While the lottery is a nice fantasy, it's much more likely you'll wind up in a position (CEO, anyone?) that pays you tons of money for working hard instead of getting lucky. And that's something I've been thinking about a lot lately. What would I do if I won or was making millions of dollars a year? I've talked to friends about this and usually the answer is the same:
I'd work for a few years and then retire to an island somewhere!
I understand the sentiment—who wouldn't want to quit the rat race and go relax on a beach without a care in the world? But I always play devil's advocate and try to get them thinking about this at a deeper level. My argument is that they probably wouldn't just walk away like that.
Here's why: whatever motivation drives you to work hard enough to make it to CEO (or any other top-paying position) isn't just going to disappear after you've "made it." If anything, that drive would get even stronger. Sure, this sometimes happens with certain athletes after they get their big contract (which always draws the ire of fans—you're getting paid to play a game!), but most athletes follow the same pattern. They play because they're driven to compete and win.
You can't just turn off the machine that got you to the top like that—it's not that simple.
So What Would You Do?
I love imagining these kinds of scenarios and trying to picture what I would do. Last year, I imagined what I would do if I had all the money in the world and how my life would change. Here's the weird thing about that little exercise, though: I figured out that most of the things I would do or change were things that had nothing to do with money.
They were things I could do in my life right now.
I didn't want to buy a new car or move into a mansion. The things I wanted to do were more about personal fulfillment (although I did want to buy an apartment on the Seine and travel more). But most of it was about the job I had and some other things I could actually control.
And I asked myself, "Why don't you do them then?"
It was quite the moment for me—I was surprised that money had nothing to do with the things I would do if I had tons of money. Does that make sense?
Granted, once you have a couple million bucks in the bank, things change...but I think it's still a worthwhile exercise to picture yourself in that position to see what you would do. Go ahead and list out the things you would do right away if money wasn't an object: would you quit your job or get a different one? If you quit, what would you do with all that spare time? Would you move to a different apartment or house?
Think about it for a second and then look the list up and down. Can you do any of that stuff right now?
Let me know what you find out!