“When I win the lottery
Gonna donate half my money to the city
So they have to name a street or a school or a park after me…”
– Camper Van Beethoven, “When I Win the Lottery”
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Most of the posts on The Juggling Writer are about writing.
Some of the posts are about day jobs (and how they apply to writing).
Sometimes I talk about juggling (and how it applies to writing).
This post is for everybody, regardless of whether you write or not.
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What would you do if you won the lottery?
What would you do if you won a big jackpot, at least 20 million dollars?
(If you’re thinking about how much is held back from an all-at-once payout, how much is taken in taxes, and other things, you probably think about the lottery too much. So let’s just say, “What would you do if you suddenly had 20 million free and clear?”)
Chances are, you wouldn’t continue working at your day job.
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What would you do if you suddenly had 20 million dollars?
I’m not asking what you would buy — I’m asking what you would do.
How would you occupy your time if you were a multi-millionaire?
What are the top three things you’d do?
Are you working toward any of those things right now, at least on a weekly basis?
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If you’re not working toward the top three things you’d do if you won 20 million dollars, try this:
1. Grab a piece of paper.
2. Write the top three things you’d do with your time if money were no object.
3. Ask yourself what you can do to work toward those top three things, lottery or not.
Here’s my list of three things I’d do if money were no object:
- Teach People Stuff/Share What I Know.
- Travel and Hang Out.
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Now that you have your list of three things, define what you really want to do with those three things.
In my case, I want to write, share things with people, and travel and hang out.
But that’s not really specific.
Defining what I want might look like this:
- Finish another novel.
- Get back to selling articles.
- Attend a writer’s conference.
- Teach a juggling class at a community recreation center.
- Share and encourage live storytelling.
- Keep working on The Juggling Writer.
- Travel/Hanging Out
- See one new thing out of state this year. (Yes, if I won the lottery, this might read “Hike across Scotland or New Zealand,” but this is doable now.)
- More camping this year than last year.
- Continue making time for family and friends. (This might mean refusing to work overtime at the day job, or taking a lower-paying job, but it’s worth it.)
With this defined list, I can see if I’m at least making some effort toward the big things that make me happy. I can also see if I can combine things (e.g. satisfy the travel and article items by maybe getting back to travel writing).
This list helps me. If I’m not working on a novel, working on articles, or working on my pitch for an upcoming writer’s conference; if I’m not practicing juggling to get back into shape to teach juggling, telling stories, or working on this blog; If I don’t make a plan to take at least a small vacation out of state, go camping a few times with my wife, or making sure I see family and friends; if I don’t do these things that make me happy, what good is winning the lottery?
If I’m not working toward things regardless of being able to fund all I’d like to do or not — as silly as it may sound — I don’t feel worthy of winning 20 million dollars. (Not that I play the lottery to begin with.)
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Now that you’ve defined how to actually make aspects of your big three goals happen, it’s time to get busy.
You probably don’t have time to do everything on your list every week — the point is to at least work toward something on the list.
Now, if you win 20 million while playing the lottery, you have a better plan than, “Buy stuff!” But the odds are, you’re never going to win the lottery. If you strive for doing some of the things on your list each week, I’m betting you’ll be happier than the weekly let down of not winning the lottery and having to return to a job you don’t particularly like.
Putting everything on one thing with long odds isn’t the best idea for a life plan.
Granted, if you play the lottery, you have a chance at beating the odds and winning 20 million dollars, but you have much better odds of being happy and making things happen if you work toward what you love at least a little bit every week.
Good points here. I guess it wouldn’t hurt to shake my status quo and just make a list, would it? It’s just a list. 🙂
Cynthia Griffith says
I already do take steps to do those things I love, fortunately. Unfortunately, some of them have to be scaled back — and even more unfortunate, some things definitely require a lot more money before I could do them (there are some steps I can take to get started on them, and I’ve been trying). As long as I’m doing something though, I’m happy 🙂
My list really doesn’t change much if I were to win the lottery than it already is right now… it would possibly get a little better, and it would definitely be easier of course.
Christopher Gronlund says
Yep, just a list.
If you make a list of 3 big things and break that list into several ways of making the big three things happen, it doesn’t take more than a handful of hours each week to work toward something you love.
When Sunday night rolls around and you’re facing another week of a day job you wouldn’t do if you won the lottery, you can at least have the satisfaction of knowing you took some steps toward what makes you happy.
(The downside: if you really love what you’re doing on your list — so much that it’s all you want to do — Sunday night is a reminder that 40+ more hours you could have dedicated to the things you love are about to go to a job you wouldn’t do if you won the lottery.)
Christopher Gronlund says
You bring up a good point about money.
There are those dream things that involve a lot of money. If money were no object, I’d definitely travel around the world. But knowing I can’t do that right now, I made it realistic when defining what’s possible. An out-of-state trip, more camping…even something like taking the train into Dallas satisfies the side of me that wants to see other countries.
There may be people who make a list that can’t be done, even if they define things in smaller pieces. I don’t have the answer for those people.
Money definitely factors into a lot of things. If one of my dreams were to have a million dollar crown made for me to wear when eating breakfast (just ’cause nothing complements a bowl of Cheerios like a jewel-encrusted crown), there’s not a lot I can do to take steps toward satisfying that list item.
But even if one of your dreams is to start a big charity with lottery winnings, there are things like volunteering and working up toward the people who created charities and having them mentor you. If your dream is to race cars, you can at least find a local group that does some kind of organized racing that fits your budget, even if it’s racing around cones in a parking lot on Saturday mornings.
I think another thing making a list like this does is show people that even with a million dollars, there’s still often a lot of work involved.
If you always dreamed of writing a novel, guess what? You still have to put your butt in a chair and write it, even if you are a billionaire 🙂