This is one of those mental exercises. You imagine yourself in a particular scenario and try to describe how you would live your life, either differently or maybe the same. If you hate such exercises then it’s probably really important that you do them. To do it properly I recommend a pen and paper and uninhibited writing – write even if it’s not legible, don’t worry about grammar and spelling and if your mind takes you in one direction keep going with it, just write… write… write. Or type, I suppose.
This one goes something like this. Imagine you are still doing what you’re doing, working as a doctor making a great income. You are living in the same city/country and your debt and family situations (like how I grouped that together?) are all the same. Your retirement and vacation plans are the same as well. This is your starting point.
Now imagine you come into major dough, let’s say $100 million, and it comes with a financial adviser, so you don’t have to worry about losing it or managing it. Half of it is invested in businesses and real estate making you $100k/month and the other half is sitting in an account to use as you please.
The focus of the exercise isn’t to figure out what you would do with the money but how you would live your life in detail. Would you stay where you are, with the people you are, doing the things you are? To do this effectively imagine that tomorrow (or a specific date in the near future) all this takes place. Get vivid, imagine looking at your bank account and seeing the money with all them zero’s behind it.
Start this mental exercise by writing out where you live, who you spend the most time with you, what you upcoming changes are and where you work etc. Write what you own and what you owe.
Don’t focus on what you’re gonna do with the money, leave that for last. The point of the money is to give you financial security since that is one of the biggest obstacles for most of us when it comes to realizing our true wants/needs.
It’s good to write about every aspect of your life. What alternate career might you pursue or how would you change the focus of your practice? Would you inflate or deflate your lifestyle? Are the tangible objects or experiencing that you’ve always wanted to obtain? Where would you live geographically? If you have dependents how would you change your interaction with them? Would you try to create more free time and if you have more free time how would you spend it, structure it?
I just finished doing the exercise in my dorky blue composition notebook. The gist of it is that I wouldn’t change anything about my lifestyle. I would stay bicycle dependent, car-free and keep my condo in the same part of Portland. I would still move in with my partner up to NoCal but set aside about $500k in case we want to buy something up there.
I started writing that I would like to live in another part of the world for a while but after writing more about it I realized, like many things, money appears to be the limiting factor only at first. I don’t need more money to live in the places where I want to live.
I have a lot of my money in retirement accounts which makes it a headache to access them. I’d donate those to some animal welfare group and take $1 million from the newly acquired funds and invest it in taxable accounts.
I would continue to walk everywhere or ride my bike for longer distances. I would continue to try different sports, exercise for fun and read and write. I would make more of an effort to stay in touch with friends/family but again, don’t need money for that.
I’d help my parents out with $1 million and give $1 million to another friend who doesn’t need the money but thinks she does. And that’s about it, the rest is going into a trust so that I can’t access it but can control its distribution to various charity groups. I don’t want that much money around me, my ass would get greedy fast with that much at my disposal.
I liked this exercise because at least it helped me realize that I’m going in the right direction. I’m doing most of the things I want to be doing and not making money my excuse to live a less satisfied life. I threw in some other stuff like helping others etc, but again, I realized that most help isn’t monetary but instead it’s being supportive.