It was one of my first years living in Spain, and I was receiving almost daily reminders of how people there seemed to think differently than anyone I’d ever known.
When people asked, “What do you do?” they didn’t mean work.
It was completely normal to see one or two people get up and start dancing, unfazed by the fact that everyone was watching them.
And everybody – I mean everybody – played the lottery at Christmastime for the fattest prize of the year (literally called el Gordo).
I went along with it, because, hey, when in Rome… even though I knew it was a waste of money, and my semi-illegal status meant I hardly had two pesetas to my name.
(And that dates me. There was no such thing as the euro.)
I clearly remember buying the tickets in a little shop on a cobblestone street, spending the equivalent of $10, which seemed like such a fortune. Then we went for coffee, and I turned to my partner and asked, “Ok, what will you do if you win?”
He frowned and tilted his head to the side. “What do you mean?”
I explained that the real value of lottery tickets was the fun of fantasizing about all the things you’d do differently if you won. Everybody knew that the odds of actually winning were infinitesimal.
He thought for a second, and then shrugged, “I like my life. If I wanted to be doing something else, I’d be doing it.”
I was floored.
For him, a huge windfall meant just this: You’d have more money.
It wasn’t a way out of that job you hate. It wasn’t your ticket to finally travel overseas. It wasn’t the key to unlocking the life of your dreams.
Because the truth is that you don’t need to win lotto to do any of those things.
It might sound like an exaggeration to say my life changed then and there, but the truth is that sometimes it happens like that.
There was a canyon of difference between the way I saw life, filled with “if onlys,” and the way he saw his, filled with “why nots.”
Ever since, I’ve made it my goal to be able to answer the same way he did if anyone ever asked. (I don’t always succeed, but it helps ground my decisions when I get off track.)
That one question has led me to change industries, end relationships, and say no to opportunities that weren’t really in my best interest.
It also opened new doors. I’ve studied things I otherwise wouldn’t have and committed time and resources to projects even though my plate seemed full. I’ve treated myself to indulgences and traveled to far-off places now, rather than later.
It has kept me focused on what I truly wanted in life, at each point in my life.
And it let me see possibilities around every corner.
And now, let’s talk about you
Which brings me to an insanely important question:
If YOU won the lottery, what would you do with your life?
In other words, what do you really want?
Take it from a wise Spaniard and the people he has inspired, and live life as if winning the Powerball wouldn’t change a thing.
(Sure, you might make some upgrades, but none of the fundamentals would change.)
You don’t need to be born in a Mediterranean country to adopt a carpe diem attitude.
I was raised in a highly pragmatic, follow-the-rules military culture, so I definitely know the internal struggles of making choices that seem crazy to those around you.
But I also know there’s no fulfillment quite like following your own compass.
That's why I’m really excited to share more over the next weeks about making that shift, so that you can see exactly what I’m talking about.
Here’s to those winning lottery tickets (the kind with spiritual rather than financial payouts),
P.S. If you’re stuck because you can’t figure out what you actually want, I’d love to help you get out of limbo. Let’s hop on a call and see if it’s a good fit for us to work together.
P.P.S. I'd love to know what you think about this. Is it possible to have the life you want, regardless of current resources? Tell us in the comments below.