I saw a news story the other night where a reporter on the street was interviewing people and asking them what they would do if they won the lottery. Many people said that they would travel or that they would buy exotic cars, a new house, or some other luxury extravagance. What I found most interesting is that when asked, “Would you stay at your job?” every single person said, “No, I would leave my job immediately.” That was every single person.
This story really got me thinking about the psychology of the lottery. People often say that if they were to win those millions of dollars, they would finally be happy. But the big question is, why would that be? As the old saying goes, “Most people are living lives of quiet desperation.”
Well, I have some good news and some bad news: It is highly unlikely that you will ever win the lottery—I guess that is the bad news. The good news is that you can begin to live the lottery life starting tomorrow. What do I mean by that? I mean that you can create your own life and win!
Your job—If you truly hate your job enough to quit immediately upon winning the lottery, then guess what? You may want to think about the work that you do, because obviously you do not have a passion for what you do. First, mister, no one is making you do it. After all, you don’t have to work there. You could find another job. You could switch industries. You could find a new profession.
I was recently doing a full-day training program at a company, and when I asked one of the team members how long she had been with the company, she told me, “Fourteen years.” When I responded, “Oh, that is great.” She said, “No, it’s not. In fact, I have been here fourteen years too long.” I am a realist and not an idealist, and I know that you just can’t up and quit your job tomorrow. That is not realistic, and you do have mouths to feed and bills to pay. I get that. What I am saying is that starting tomorrow, you need to begin developing a plan for doing the thing that you have a passion for doing. The key, then, is to do something every day to move closer to that goal. You can work at your real job while in your spare time working on creating your dream job. There are many cases of people who have reinvented their careers and have ended up living very happy lives doing the work that they love.
Your dreams—Maybe you dream of having a huge mansion. Maybe you dream of having a high-speed boat or traveling all over the world to exotic locales. I’m sure you believe that winning the lottery would help you achieve those dreams very quickly because the lottery would pay for them. But here is my question: What are you waiting for? Go ahead and start working on those dreams now instead of standing at your local convenience store buying twenty tickets and hoping that one of them is “the one.” Why not take some time today and write out your goals in every part of your life. Create an action plan and start working on it now. Find out what training and development may be available for what it is you’re trying to do, sign up for a college class, start learning a trade. Why not sit down today and figure out how you can have the home of your dreams; how you can have that boat; how, through your work and effort, you can travel the world to exotic locales without being sponsored by the Powerball?
You may think I’m crazy, but I also believe that if you achieve your dreams through your own hard work and sweat equity, you will feel much better about it than if somebody handed you a pile of cash that you really did earn. If you don’t believe me, there have been many cases of people who won the lottery, then a few years after winning lost everything and said that they were miserable because they felt like they did not deserve the money. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t turn down the money if someone handed it to me; I’m just saying I think you appreciate it more when you earn it and you worked for it.
Your happiness—I hear people say this all the time about the lottery: that if they won, they would finally be happy. What if you never win the lottery? Would you never be happy? Are you not happy now? So instead of waiting for some random balls to come down the chute and change your life, why not figure out what would make you truly happy now?
I have often written that you are the architect of your own life, and I believe that. Take some time and analyze your life and figure out the things that make you happy, and those are the things you want to keep doing. Here’s a suggestion from the land of the obvious: if you have things that make you unhappy or miserable or that fill you with sadness and despair, change them, get rid of them, or do something about it. As far as I know, we only have the chance to live one life, and to me life is way too short to sit around and not be happy. You can decide how to handle every aspect of your life.
So here’s what I want you to do: don’t stand around with your fingers crossed, watching the screen to see if your numbers come up. Instead, spend your time and energy creating your own lottery life, because the reality is it’s the only one that you can truly control.