Here’s a question you’ve likely been asked before: If money were no object, what would you do?
If that question stumps you, good! It’s a stupid question and you shouldn’t answer it because it’s built on three rather faulty assumptions:
- Your real dream is costly. Think about the word dream for a minute. When you think about it, does it conjure up expensive thoughts in your mind? Do you think of champaign, yachts, exotic beaches and the lifestyles of the rich and famous? Or perhaps you’re more utilitarian. You dismiss the whole notion of dreaming as a frivolous waste of time. You’ve got real world problems and you don’t have time to dream. Why? Because dreams are expensive and out of practical reach, or so you’ve been led to believe by billboards enticing you to dream. Why not? You’re just about to win the lottery. But do you really want to suspend a dream for the price of a lottery ticket?
- Your real dream can be purchased. Implicit in the question about money being “no object” is the idea that having unlimited resources will somehow resuscitate a dream lying dormant within you. If you’re waiting for financial “freedom” before pursuing your dream, then you don’t love it enough to work for it. You’ve sidelined a pursuit that can teach you more about yourself for a simple transaction that may never materialize. Don’t buy your dreams. Earn them.
- Your real dream can be achieved instantly. You and I live in an instant gratification culture. Mobile phones and Facebook can keep you instantly connected. Day trading can give you instant investment results. No hassles, zero percent instant credit financing can get you into a new car, instantly. Why not dreams? Just imagine what you could do instantly if money were no object. No work. Just outcome. Like water flowing to the path of least resistance, the appeal of instant success, however remote, trumps the perseverance to pursue a dream no matter how long it takes. That kind of pursuit takes creativity. Not the kind of creativity to entertain ideas of what you would do with a financial windfall, but rather the sustained and tireless creativity that comes from leaning into the challenges with a long obedience in the same direction, as Eugene Peterson puts it.
The next time you see one of those billboards brazenly asking “What’s your dream?” while offering a chance to win that mega-jackpot, just smile. And shout back to it, “It’s none of your business. You have nothing to do with it.”
What are other assumptions or messages you’ve noticed around you?
Good thoughts Leary. Sometimes I’ve been tempted to think “wouldn’t it be nice…” but even after several months of unemployment, getting rich quick would only add to and intensify my problems, not solve them. One of my former job placement coaches asked me to write down career choices/jobs I would love to do “if money were no object”. I think that’s getting more at my passion, rather than some lofty, selfish dream. And I’m still trying to determine that as I continue my job search.
Hi Mark and thanks for commenting on the post. You are right, most of what we pursue wouldn’t be solved by money anyway, not to say that it couldn’t help make the transition a little easier. 🙂 It’s easy to inflate the importance of money and then overlook the more important steps we could take to discern a passion or dream.