If Money Were No Object, How Big Would It Be?

September 8, 2008

I signed up to participate in a group through the Fast Track Your Dream program. We’re going to be reading through a collection of articles and essays titled Finding Your True Calling. I read through this book several months ago and tried some of the exercises, but not all of them. I skimmed over one in particular, but this week I’ve been focusing on it seriously.

The purpose of the exercise is to help people hear what they’re drawn to, what their heart enjoys. It’s a simple enough idea, but it’s deceptively tricky. It goes like this.

If you didn’t have to worry about money, what would you do with your time? After taking time off and traveling and relaxing, how would you want to spend your days?

The premise is a person who doesn’t have to work will still want to be productive and will be free to do things that express natural gifts, talents, and passions. The problem with the premise is that it’s really hard to let go of considering money.

I’ve tried different versions of this, but I get distracted by rabbit trails. One version I used was to imagine winning the lottery and having enough money to generate a huge income, say a million dollars a year. When I think about it, I get stuck on how I would set up managing the money, how I would choose people to advise me, and how I would donate big portions of it. That turns into real work, having to learn about more complex investments. I wonder if I would enjoy that part and might discover a passion for investing in commodities or small cap stocks, or if I would really like being a venture capitalist. I completely lose the point of the exercise!

When I think about the giving part, I wonder if it would be better to set up a foundation and support certain organizations, or if it would make more sense to travel to see the work that different organizations are doing and just give directly to them, or if I would find unmet needs and be moved to set up an organization to serve those needs. I take my pretend philanthropy very seriously!

I tried this exercise from another point of view. I imagined I had a wonderful inspiration and wrote a best-selling novel and would be getting big royalty checks and just stick them in some kind of trust fund and have a big flow of income. What would I do then? I started imagining how I might write a second book and make even more money!

A couple of times when I’ve set aside time for entering into this thought exercise I wind up thinking of the things I would do with a huge income, like screen in the front porch and build an outdoor kitchen in the back yard. I start daydreaming about new cars and travel destinations. Again, I miss the point.

When I think about plans I have for building a coaching practice and adding training and information products around career choice and entrepreneurship, I find another obstacle. I realize that for the exercise to be effective I need to add, You don’t have to worry about marketing your service or product, because your reasonable efforts will definitely be effective. I needs this because I start out imagining setting up training workshops and not having to worry about the income, but I get pretty disappointed thinking about nobody showing up!

I am learning much about myself, and I’ve only written a small portion of it here because some of it is still pretty personal and a lot of it isn’t totally clear yet. I know that the more I stay with this exercise the more I’m discovering my limiting thoughts, false preconceptions, and fears. I realize I need to bring my thoughts about risk into awareness so I can evaluate them and make them more realistic. I see more and more where I automatically filter my own gifts, talents, and passions through the “practical” lens, which takes a way a lot of their power.

I recommend trying different variations of this exercise. They can guide you in your own journey to discover your authentic work. And they can point to your thoughts and beliefs about money, scarcity, abundance, and security, which are important to uncover when you’re trying to embrace liberty and live with intention.

May You Know the Joy of Sharing Your Gifts,

Steve Coxsey

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