Does this reader question/comment ring any bells with you?
“I have never understood the question (or variations on it) of “What would you do if you didn’t have to worry about money?” as advice for finding one’s calling. I guess it’s because I would stay in bed, eat junk food, and watch TV. I’ve never seen any job that had any real purpose either, so who I would want to trade places with is meaningless as well. Can’t really say I’ve ever felt alive.”
Here’s why the question makes sense. In as much as you may think you really would lie around the house, eat Twinkies and watch Seinfeld reruns – my observation is that no one enjoys doing that for more than a couple of weeks. I’ve had the pleasure of working with lots of people over the years for whom making money was no longer an issue. But that really brings to the forefront the question: “What would you do if you didn’t have to worry about money?” Those people don’t have the easy out that “I only work because I have to.”
See it’s actually a whole lot easier to just barely squeak by week after week – having no extra time and certainly no extra money. In that situation no one expects you to deal with the important questions of life – you’re just doing what you have to do – right? But when confronted with having more time and money than ever needed, a person has to really decide, “How am I going to invest my time – and money?” “How am I going to make my life matter?” Yes, you really can have only so many cars, cruises, houses, and pieces of art. And my observation is that those people are immediately attracted to ideas that serve others. I don’t see many who want to plan to spend it all selfishly and just die on the same day the last dollar is spent. Rather, they, like some of you are already doing, look for ways to:
- Share your time and money with those who have not had their same advantages
- Bring hope and encouragement to others
- Volunteer in a worthy church or community program
- Start a social entrepreneurship venture
- Sponsor a children’s sports program
- Revitalize the downtown area of your town
- Give money strategically – not just 10% dropped into the collection plate
- Teach life skills to those with self-defeating patterns
‘Feeling Alive’ is one of those interesting by-products. It’s not something we can approach directly – it flows out of a meaningful life.
You may think you are eagerly awaiting ‘retirement.’ But time invested in meaningful activities makes ‘retirement’ diminish in its attraction.
So go ahead: spend three days staying in bed, eating Moon Pies, and watching the political drivel the news teams conjure up. See how quickly you feel worthless in body, mind and spirit.
But here’s the deal. You don’t have to wait until retirement or until you win the lottery to decide what you would do if money were no longer the issue. You really can just make those decisions now – live as if you have an abundance of time and money. Start one of the above activities today. And you might be surprised at what happens to your actual bank account when you realize what you already have to give and share.
And if you want to see what can happen to someone who just wants to eat, drink and be merry, check this out: Eat, Drink and Be Merry