by Jonathan Robinson: Imagine you suddenly won or inherited a billion dollars. What would you do?
You’d probably throw a big party, take the vacation you’ve always wanted to take, and buy a nice house. Then what? Although you may think you’d simply want to retire, most billionaires continue to passionately pursue their work. Bill Gates and Donald Trump could easily retire, but they love what they do. In fact, studies show that the one thing rich people tend to have in common is that they greatly enjoy their work. When you love your career, you tend to be better at it, and are more likely to rise to the top of your field where the big bucks are. By imagining what you’d do with a billion dollars, it’s possible to gain a better idea of what you truly feel is important work to be done.
Many years ago, I was taking a workshop in which the instructor asked everyone to write out what they’d do with a billion dollars. To my surprise, many people only thought of what they would want to buy. When the workshop leader read these responses, he added a new instruction: “Despite having a billion dollars, imagine that you were also required by law to work forty hours a week. What work would you do? In other words, what is work that you find so rewarding or important that you’d do it for free?” After thinking about what the instructor said, I decided I’d want to lead personal growth workshops, as well as write books that provide people with powerful techniques to improve all aspects of their lives. Now, a decade after writing down my answer in this workshop, that’s exactly what I do for a living!
When you become clear about what you really love to do and what you consider to be important work, you become more focused and capable. Ten years ago, I was living in a 1967 Dodge van, making $400 a month. It seemed unlikely I would ever have a best selling book and speak to millions of people a year. Yet, by consistently pursuing what I loved, it happened. Even if I didn’t make much money or have much success in my field, I would still be enjoying what I do. I love teaching and writing. I’d definitely do it for free. Had I made the mistake of pursuing a different line of work just to make a lot of money, I’d probably be miserable. Many people make the error of putting their desire for money before their desire for meaningful work. Usually, they end up paying a big price. Yet, by figuring out what you’d do with a billion dollars, you can easily learn and start to pursue your true passions in life.
A billion dollars is one thousand million bucks. That’s a lot of money. Would you want to help end starvation? Would you go into politics? Would you become a writer, inventor, or musician? What line of work seems like it’s so fun or so important that you’d gladly do it for free? Take a few minutes now and write down a few answers to that question.
When I first looked over my billion dollar list, I became a bit depressed. After all, I wasn’t doing any of the things I had written down. I had never done any writing, never been on TV, and was afraid of public speaking. Yet, I figured I’d start in small ways. I began by teaching a personal growth class to a few friends for free. I started writing things down just for my own benefit. As time passed, I got better at what I did. Before I knew it, people were paying for my workshops, publishers were buying my books, and TV producers were calling me to be on their shows. Since I really loved what I was doing, it was easy to be dedicated to it, even during times when I wasn’t having much success.
Once you’ve written down what you’d do with a billion dollars, begin in small ways to incorporate some of those activities into your life. For example, if with a billion dollars you decided that you’d work to end the abuse of animals, then why not start to work in that area now? You don’t need to quit your job to do that. You can begin by writing letters to your congressman, joining an animal rights group, or volunteering at an animal shelter. I know many people who started doing such things after they wrote out their billion dollar list, and later found themselves in a paying job working for the cause they had previously volunteered for.
The billion-dollar list helps you to think in a new, expanded manner. As you work in ways that are in line with your values and passion, you’ll feel a sense of inner fulfillment. Many people report that initially making less money at a job is a small price to pay for work that is truly rewarding. Once you’ve made your list, you’ll have a clearer sense of the direction you ultimately want to go in life. Then, you can use various tools from this and other books to help you more quickly manifest your dreams into reality.