When I worked for someone else, I was miserable most of the time. I disliked having a boss, disliked my boss having a boss, and disliked all the politics and hierarchies that came along with being a cog in a machine.
It kind of didn't matter what type of work I was doing, I always felt stifled by the system. I felt like I couldn't be myself, I couldn't implement any of my ideas and I felt suffocated creatively and professionally.
It was no surprise that I spent much of my weeks living for the weekends and my annual (in a good year, biannual) vacation. I would get in the car every morning with my husband and just complain like hell the entire way to work. Not just about work, but anything and everything in my path: the weather's too hot/too cold, why is that guy driving so slowly, this coffee is terrible, etc., etc. My negative feelings about my work life began to seep into every aspect of my life and it made me a miserable person.
I started to dream about winning the lottery, what would I do with the money, what would I buy, where would I go. Once I got the totally materialistic fantasies out of the way (buying a 1960s Jaguar, a Caribbean retreat, an apartment in Paris), I was left wondering what the heck I would do with all my newfound time. When the novelty of travel wore off, I'd have to DO something, right? I realized I'd want to own and run my own business and do something that helped other people. That's when I realized, if I just was able to accomplish that alone, I could live like a lottery winner every day.
Now that I do run my own business and help other business owners, my mindset has completely transformed. Once a miserable, negative person, I now rarely complain about things I can't control and legitimately look for the positive in everything. I haven't dreaded a Monday almost four years. Vacations are great, but I'm equally happy coming back to every day life.
What I have noticed is how many people live every day like I used to. You know the type, they're always complaining: "Thank God it's Friday!" "Ugh, another Monday!" "I had a great vacation, too bad I had to come back!" and on and on. These are the people right now dreaming about winning the $1.5B lottery tonight. When they don't win, they'll go on grinding away, waiting for the weekend or their next vacation. It's a toxic way to live.
The best question to ask yourself is: if I won the lottery, what would I do? Once you get beyond buying a bunch of stuff and traveling, what is it that winning the lottery would really do for you? Most people will answer that it gives them freedom. It gives them back their time. It gives them the opportunity to do what they really want in life. It's not about the money. And that's the key: how can you take back your freedom, your time and do what you really want every day?
Ask yourself, why aren't you doing what you really want in life? What's stopping you? What do you want your legacy to be? Who do you want to help in the world? Then, make a plan to start doing those things now, even on a small scale. Start feeling like a lottery winner every day.
If I live to be 75, I've only got 1,824 Mondays left. I'm not going to dread a single one.
Sarah E. Holmes is a Philadelphia business attorney and strategist that helps start ups and established businesses looking to expand, protect their assets and increase their profits in an approachable, down-to-earth way.