“What would you do each day if you had 20 million in the bank?”
This question has been posed by every online business mogul and wanna-be mogul in the universe, and now me. I recently took a poll of my Facebook friends, which some of you may have been included in, asking this exact question. The typical answers were: give money to family friends, donate to charity, do charity work and open animal shelters. The animal shelter one is definitely a chick-thing because I too want to rescue every cute and fuzzy animal without a home. But the real question goes deeper than the answer you give at first glance. Of course, travel always makes the list. But once you’ve sat on the beach, bought everything you’ve ever wanted and invested in what you think are safe investments….what happens next????
Some people really have a hard time answering this question. Sit down and make a list of the things that you want to do in your life that don’t include chasing the almighty dollar. This task may prove to be more difficult than you think. Often people go first to charity work. It’s definitely noble and probably the most common answer. I believe they do this because it hits all of the human needs.
The Six Human Needs
According to Tony Robbins, we all have six primary human needs. Activities that meet multiple needs tend to be activities that we engage in more often. In my opinion, giving your time (charity work) meets all of the human needs on some level: certainty, variety, contribution, love/connection, growth and even significance. This is definitely why you see people like Bill Gates, Oprah, Brad Pitt etc… always giving time and money to charities and to those that are less fortunate than themselves.
Here are a list of the six human needs and a little description. Make a list of the things in your life, good and bad: relationships, work, projects, kids, hobbies, even daily activities like cleaning, exercising etc… After you’ve made the list, next to each write which need is being fulfilled by that activity. I bet you’ll see that the ones you enjoy most, meet multiple needs and the ones that you don’t enjoy, meet few of the needs.
Certainty/Comfort. We all want comfort. And much of this comfort comes from certainty. Of course there is no ABSOLUTE certainty. We all want to be certain that when you hand over your credit card it will be approved, you want to be certain that your car will start, certain that your spouse will come home, etc… Certainty is the reason that you endure doing a job that you hate, day after day. You want to be certain that you get that weekly check so you can pay your bills.
Variety. Ironically, at the same time we want certainty, we also crave variety, a.k.a. uncertainty. Paradoxically, there needs to be enough uncertainty in our lives to provide a little spice, living on the edge and adventure. Everyone has a different idea of variety. Some like to try a new restaurant each week, but would never jump from a plane. Other would take a one way ticket to Mars, but eat the same steak week after week.
Significance. Deep down, we all want to be important. Important to your friends, your children; it doesn’t always mean you want to be famous just to be famous. We want our life to have meaning and significance. Some want a legacy of children, a successful business and some simply want to change the world. I can imagine no worse a death than to think my life didn’t matter. On some level, we all want and need significance.
Connection/Love. It would be hard to argue against the need for love. We want to feel part of a community. We want to be cared for and cared about. We fill our lives with family, friends and pets. A life without love and connection is cold, frigid and worthless.
Growth. There could be some people who say they don’t want to grow, but I think they’re simply fearful of doing so—or perhaps NOT doing so. Life is about learning and growing. As we get older we realize how little we actually know. Growth allows us to become better people, to improve our skills, to stretch and excel.
Contribution. The desire to contribute something of value—to help others, to make the world a better place then we found it, is in all of us. Which is why many people that acquire massive wealth spend the rest of their lives trying to better the world.
It’s Monday Morning
Okay, it’s Monday morning. You wake up and check your bank account, the balance has more zeros than you could even count, still. It’s been a year since your million dollar windfall. What do you do now? Coffee? Watch Sponge Bob? There’s no alarm that needs to be set, no sales meeting that you have to attend. It’s just you. What do you do?
Again, most people say they would do some sort of charitable work. I encourage you to look beyond charity work, a year long vacation and buying that new Maserati. What other things would you love to do? What would you love to become? Go back into your childhood and discover an old dream that you haven’t yet realized. Maybe you think it’s too late, or you’re too old to be a ballerina or rockstar. This may be true professionally, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take adult dance classes or form a garage band. Maybe you discovered a new talent for writing and have always dreamed of writing a screenplay, novel or even a children’s book. Why not you? Why not now?
Poke and prod around that brain of yours. Find the things that you’d do for free. Find the things that will truly make you happy. Find the things that you would just LOVE to do. Then, write them down. Don’t be afraid to daydream.
Now that you have a list of things you’d love to do. Write next to each idea which of the human needs that activity or thing is meeting. If these activities are only meeting one or two needs, you may realize that it’s not something that you’d really LOVE to do. You probably like it. But the ones you LOVE, probably meet many of the needs.
Now that you have your final list, it’s time to make an action plan. Which of these ideas can you (on some level) do now? When can you carve out the time to begin to work toward turning this dream life into your real life? It’s time to stop making excuses, and time to start living, even without the 20 million.