“Money isn’t everything. But it sure makes life a hell of a lot more fun”
The Tale of the Lad Who Had no Money
I’m in a tough spot right now. Like many of my friends, I moved back in with my parents, I have little free money to spend, and very few personal and professional options to choose from.
One day, out of boredom, curiosity, and an extreme need to get the hell out of the house, I sat down in a cafe and wrote down “everything I want to do, ever.”
I’ll talk about the list later, but one thing that surprised me was….
It doesn’t even come near to $1,000,000 dollars to fulfill every single one of my short term dreams.
I mean, for now, I left out things like owning a 35 million dollar yacht to party on, partying in the international space station with a pair of Russian midgets, having a private plane, etc.
But I really wrote down EVERYTHING, including an $80,000+ car, a place to stay, unlimited travel, being fluent in 4 languages, the whole she-bang.
It’s so ridiculously plausible that I simply had to write about it.
#1 Why the million-dollar dream is pointless
As a society, we collectively joke about “winning a million dollars” or “winning the lotto.” I’m not even going to really go in detail, but there’s probably a positive correlation between people who don’t dream about $1,000,000 yet have a million dollars.
If you ask the average person what they’d do with a million bucks 90% say something along the lines of:
- “Ummmm, dunno, go on a cruise in the Bahamas?”
- “Buy a sports car”
- “Go to Paris”
8% say something along the lines of:
- “Give my parents money to help them”
- “Help my friends”
and 1-2% know exactly what they’d do.
The majority of these responses are as close to worthless as you can get. They are extremely poorly thought out pipe dreams with no use. The majority of lottery winners end up broke again within a decade.
#2 Puzzling responses
So if you won a million dollars, the best, most worthwhile, memorable thing you’d do is buy another car? Go drink beer somewhere else?
I doubt it. I bet you’d want to find ways to milk that money until the end.
If I asked you: “Okay, in spending this $1,000,000 dollars, in what ways could you spend it so as to best remember it?”
– You’d still reply the same way?
Either people aren’t really thinking this through, or we’re all pretty big morons. I’m inclined to believe it’s the former.
#3 Smoke a cigarette and think this thing through
Think back for a moment. Seriously. Get a cup of tea, coffee, a cigarette, a joint, your crack pipe, whatever.
In recent memory, what were the most enjoyable experiences of your life?
I happen to keep track of them on my iPod in a file called “Simple Pleasures.” Some are similar, some vary wildly, for example:
- Sitting on the porch in the evening with a glass of red wine, classical music playing (right now I’m loving Ludovico Einaudi), thinking about life or philosophizing
- Real, genuine, talks about life with other people
- Driving in perfect weather with the windows down listening to new music
- People watching in an airport, and feeling the anticipation of my next journey
- Learning a new skill: a language, brewing the perfect cup of tea, salsa, etc.
- Simple travel, like my trip through the Sahara Desert
Now, I may be totally unique in my list of simple pleasures. That’s fine. Maybe your simple pleasures actually involve looking at your Ferrari while drinking the red wine, for example.
However, Question #1
What would you actually do with that money? If you could do anything in the world, where would you go and what would you do?
How long would you stay?
Ask yourself if you’d look back on it in a year with fond memories. Are you investing in “stuff” or skills, experiences, and intangible high-value memories?
Are they things to talk about or things to brag about?
For some more ideas, check out my pseudo-bucket list.
- I’m sure you’ll quickly realize that you don’t actually need $1,000,000 dollars for your dreams.
- Next time you or your friend jokes about it, think about how you’d actually spend it.
- If you don’t know what you’d do with it, your 1 million and your dreams are worthless.
- Money is fine, sports cars are fine, trophy wives are fine, fancy clothes are fine. Just don’t let them be your singular goal. Think of them as “positive repercussions” of an inherently enjoyable life
- Write down and invest in concrete dreams, they are closer than you think.
People who don’t know what they want rarely get what they want.
Rocket science, right?