I die a little bit inside anytime I hear someone say the following: “If I won the lottery…”
First up, you’ve already won the lottery of life if you’ve live in a developed nation. If your children’s existence isn’t under threat from medical issues as soon as they’re born. If you have access to clean water and shelter.
Second, would winning the lottery change that much for you? Yes and no.
If you won twenty five million, your new money could solve some problems. You could pay off your mortgage or debt. Move to a nicer house in a better area. You could go on holiday. You could quit your job. You could buy nice things for people you care about.
But here’s the crucial question you’d encounter after doing all that:
What do you do after you’ve done all that?
Research shows that you go back to feeling exactly like you did before you won the lottery. Were you an insecure, cowardly, shallow person before the money came in? You’ll still be that person. Money doesn’t correct those problems. It amplifies them.
Were you a happy, joyful, fulfilled person before the money rolled in? If you’re lucky, the money won’t change a thing and you’ll stay that way. But more likely, you won’t feel like that anymore.
Money doesn’t solve human problems. It allows you to stick a band aid over them. It allows you to distract yourself from the real issues that no amount of money can really cure.
Also, if we win the lottery, it means we are given something we didn’t earn. And how do we react when we’re given something we don’t deserve? We don’t value it.
Have you ever seen a philanthropist who made his fortune by winning the lottery? I haven’t. That’s because most philanthropists worked like dogs to get to where they are. And because of that they recognise what money can do when put to intelligent, effective use.
In contrast, most lottery winners blow their load in a few short years. They didn’t earn it so they don’t value it so they spunk it on worthless and ephemeral things.
“No,” you say. “I’d be different. If I won the lottery I’d help people. I’d use it to educate myself and others. I’d quit doing stupid stuff and I’d devote myself to making the world a better place. I’d do interesting things.”
Here’s a reality check for you:
You don’t need to win the lottery to do any of those things. You can those things right now. You don’t need to wait.
“If I won the lottery I’d…” No you wouldn’t. If you’re not doing it now, what makes you think you’ll do it then?
This is why I die inside when someone says they wish they’d win the lottery. It’s like they’ve given up control of their own life. Like they’ve quit and decided that the only way they can change their own lives or that of others is by a stroke of luck. By a good turn of fortune that they in no way have any rightful claim to.
I feel sad because they don’t realise they’ve already got everything they need. They don’t realise that by wishing for a lottery win, they’re wishing away the power they have over their own life. Over their own actions and approach to what they do have.
Hope is not a strategy. Hoping to win the lottery is a cop out.
You’re better than that.