A sudden windfall of financial freedom can bring instant clarity to how you see your life. If money suddenly became no object, how much of what you have now, of who you are now, would you want to change? That’s the Lottery Test, asking yourself questions that can help reveal who you are — the good and bad — and measuring to what degree you’re the reason you’re not living the life you want now, not your lack of money.
Who you are is a matter of choice, but we all too often think it’s a matter of circumstances, maybe even circumstances beyond our control. We think, if only I won the lottery, my life would be so different, so much better, all my problems solved. Yet, if you think this would be true, are you really so positive lack of money is what’s stopping you from having that life you want now?
Obviously, if you hate your job, one of the first things you’d change after winning a fat jackpot is just that. You’d quit your job. But, if you hate your job so much, do you really have to win the lottery to change that? Are you actually completely locked into where you are, or are you afraid of change, too insecure to think you could get a better job, or just haven’t really tried to find a new opportunity? Maybe deep down inside you don’t think you deserve better or that you can do better. And not to be offensive or anything, but maybe you’re just not qualified or too lazy to do what it takes to do the work involved with a better job. These are all issues that run far deeper than lack of money. Even if you won the lottery and could quit tomorrow, you’d still be suffering from whatever low self esteem, procrastination, fear, even laziness you had before, and would likely end up mishandling your new wealth, trusting the wrong people, and becoming so bored and idle with your time that you end up blowing through the cash on an endless search for quick, yet empty, thrills.
A sudden change in your financial security can also lead you to re-evaluate your relationships. Have you been hanging onto a boyfriend for years, trying to get him to marry you, convinced he’s the one for you even though he keeps stringing you along, but if you suddenly won a few million, he wouldn’t be looking so hot to you anymore? (Or her?) Would you suddenly feel free to get a divorce from that spouse for whom your feelings are more habit than heartfelt? Would you suddenly want to start giving your money away to family and friends or buying expensive gifts to buy their love and attention? Would you try to get people to like you, not for you, but as payback for what you can do for them with your new funds? If your relationships would change because you’d have the money to get what you don’t think you could get now, your life is suffering emotional debts that no amount of new money can ever resolve.
Winning the lottery can reveal the true measure of how successful you’ve been in building a solid, loving, genuine life for yourself by gauging how much or how little you’d want it to change your life. Consider Allen and Violet Large of Nova Scotia who won over $11 million dollars in a lottery in 2010. After keeping a small amount, around 2% to bump up their retirement savings, they promptly decided to give the rest of it away to charity. Both in their 70’s, they’d been married for 35 years, had saved enough to keep them comfortable in their retirement, and had enjoyed their life. At the time, Violet was fighting cancer, and they both knew that no amount of money could buy her an extra day of holding hands with her beloved Allen or spending time with family and friends. They’d won the Lottery Test long before purchasing a winning ticket.
You don’t have to be at the end of your life to appreciate that money doesn’t define the quality of your life and relationships. An interesting thing about the lottery is that, if you think winning the lottery would solve all your problems, you’re wrong. What it does is amplify your life. What is good about your life, the true love of your spouse, the loyalty of family and friends, the rewards of work you enjoy and time you spend on making the most of your talents and generosity, all these things just get better. What is bad about your life, cracks in your relationships, petty jealousies, dishonesty, insecurities, addictions, recklessness, all these things just get worse, but with an even bigger price tag than before as your winnings are squandered. Winning the lottery doesn’t give you answers. It gives you the chance to ask yourself questions that can lead you to a winning life.
Don’t think naked. Take the Lottery Test and ask yourself what would change if you suddenly had millions at your fingertips. Then, ask yourself why you would need money to make that happen. Are you leaving your happiness to chance?