I will go out on a limb and assume that if you are reading this, you aren't sitting at your tax attorney's office planning what to do to with your share of the $1.5 billion dollar Powerball jackpot from Wednesday night.
And while it's unfortunate that you and I aren't cashing a check 100 times more than the net worth of President Obama, there is an important question that we need to ask ourselves.
What is it that we were really looking to gain when we bought that Powerball ticket?
I asked that question of friends on Facebook and the common themes that came up were freedom to better take care of themselves and loved ones, to get out of debt faster, and to pursue the work that lights them up on a soul level. They also expressed desires to spend more time with friends and family, to donate to the charities they value, to commit more loving acts of kindness, and to live life more fully.
You know what's crazy about that list?
You can do all of these things without winning the lottery.
Are you striving to better manage your finances? Here's a great game to play that will put over $7,000 in your pocket in 2016. It's called "Save 10/Make 10," and it's based on a concept from Broadway producer Ken Davenport, who looks for ways to increase the profit margins for his shows.
The goal is simple: Find a way to save $10 every day. This might mean skipping that Starbucks run in favor of brewing a cup at home to take on the road. Can you bike to work instead of taking public transportation? If you and your spouse are going to the Outback for date night, could you skip the blooming onion appetizer? Since I've transitioned into launching my own business, my girlfriend and I have completely cut back on how much we dine out in favor of cooking meals together at home. We have saved money, calories, and it's actually improved the quality of our relationship by having these private moments together.
By finding a way to squeeze $10 per day out of your budget, you are adding $3,650 to your disposable income.
But why stop there? Now ask where you can make an extra $10 per day. Can you sell some old clothes on Ebay? Can you ask for an hour of overtime when you stay late to get that work project done? My girlfriend loves to paint portraits of animals. This has led to some acquaintances offering to pay her to create custom pieces of their pets. Boom! Finding an extra $10 of income per day adds another $3,650 to the bottom line, for a net total of $7,300 per year.
That money could pay down your credit card debt, pay for your dream vacation, or even help finance the home improvement project you have been putting off.
Of course, there will be days when you can't find the place to save or earn, and that's fine. But the goal is just changing your mindset about money. Many New Year's financial resolutions fail because we think we can solve our money issues with one massive idea that feels so big, that we are too scared to follow through and take action. This year, how about taking smaller steps, more frequently, to reach your goals?
Would you become more charitable if you had won Powerball? You can still start right now. Your time and energy cost nothing, and are needed just as badly at your local animal shelter, Habitat for Humanity, or youth organization. Plus, you will still reap the rewards of knowing that you are giving what is truly your most precious resource, your time, and using it to contribute to the greater good.
Is your goal to spend more time with family and friends? Spoiler alert: you can you be more fully present in your closest relationships right now. Do you take the time to pick up the phone to ask your friends how they are doing? Or are you just "phoning it in," literally, by communicating solely through text and social media? The level of love you give to those around you is a choice that you can make every day, whether you have $1 in the bank or $1 billion.
Finally, we come to the idea of living more fully and/or pursuing our passions. If you are truly being honest with yourself, it's not money that is holding you back from doing this. It's fear. Yes, you need to be able to pay your bills, but as self-help guru Gabrielle Bernstein teaches, treat the job you currently hate as the venture capitalist that is investing in you while you plan your next move. With this mindset, you can learn to find gratitude for the job you currently see as mundane. It also heightens your responsibility to take action in your free time to create a more purpose driven life. Want to write a book? Create a non-negotiable, 30-minute block in the morning to write. Want to start a small business but feel overwhelmed? I'd bet your local Chamber of Commerce has free resources to teach you how to do it. You just have to show up and take action.
The bottom line is that you don't have to become a billionaire to live abundantly. All that is required is to consciously choose each day to see the abundance that already surrounds you and to act with intention to create the life of your dreams.