What if money were no object?

Mar 07, 2014

“What would you do with your life if money were no object?” Guidance counselors have asked this question thousands of times but I wonder how often people fulfill whatever their answer is?

The trick, in my opinion, to answering this question well is to not assume that the phrase “money is no object” implies that you are wealthy. Instead, think of what you would do with your time if all of your basic living requirements were met.  Assuming food and shelter were 100% covered and you just had to figure out how to spend your time each day, what would you do?

Some might answer by saying “I would relax, watch TV on the couch with a glass of wine and just enjoy the free time.” But that answer is a vacation from life, it’s not living. It’s the answer you would give if the question was “what you would do if money was no object… and you had two weeks off from work.” Take time out of that equation and I imagine the answer would be different. I mean, you can only stand sitting on the couch watching TV for so long. Reading books and day dreaming will eventually get boring. So really, what would you do if food, shelter, water, and clothing were all 100% covered for the rest of your life? I’d love to hear your answer to this question in the comments below.

I’ve taken every opportunity to have this discussion with anyone who is open to it lately because I’m curious to hear what people have to say on the topic. In one such conversation, I was speaking with someone who makes a good living, is reasonably intelligent and has one child, let’s call him Sam. In Sam’s answer, he explained how he would love to start his own business and spend more time with his daughter. When I asked what was standing in his way, Sam answered that he didn’t have the money to start the business and wouldn’t know what to do if it failed. I later asked if he is saving to start his business or taking any steps to prepare and he said “no.” I was a little shocked by that answer. I wanted to ask “why not” but I didn’t.

Ever since I’ve wondered if there’s something else that is stopping Sam. He certainly makes enough to support his family and save, so why doesn’t he? Maybe he doesn’t really want to start a business at all.  Maybe he just likes the idea. I can’t say what the reason is, but after that conversation I’ve had a few similar discussions and I’ve been somewhat surprised to find that fear and complacency are more common obstacles than money.

jack_motor2.jpgMy brother, Jack, is a good example of someone who mustered the will and found the money obstacle easiest to overcome. Jack is currently living his answer to the aforementioned question; over the next few months he will be riding his Motorcycle from New York to Panama. He quit his job one week ago, sold all of his stuff, put the things he wants to keep in storage and has set off doing what he would do if money were no object. No doubt Jack had common obstacles to overcome like money and logistics but he did not lack will or the fortitude required to get on with his dream. Surely money will become an obstacle again but he can always earn more when the time comes.

Jack and Sam have somewhat different circumstances and very different dreams but the presence of willpower and determination is what separates them most. So what about you? Are you doing what you would do if you didn’t have to worry about money? If not, why? Are there obstacles that you simply can’t imagine ever overcoming / working around or, do you lack the resolve to take them on? 


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