”What would you do if money were no object?” Is one of the most crippling questions we can ask ourselves.
It paralyses even the most levelheaded individuals because it forces us to zoom out and look not just at the bigger picture, but the biggest picture possible – our entire life.
Often times, it can be so much easier to bury our heads in exactly what we’re doing right now and focus on a job that we neither love, nor hate – one which we just exist in.
My aim with this article is to get you to ask yourself the toughest question of all – what do you actually want to do with your life?
My personal story – I used this exercise to identify my why
When researching this article, I simply typed in to Google ‘What would you do if money were no object’ and the resources are pretty scarce, save for the following video by Alan Watts – one of my favourite modern day philosophers (he’s also the only modern day philosophers I know so he didn’t exactly have much competition…)
Now, this is arguably one of the most life changing videos you can watch – that much we can definitely agree on.
But, I am more of a practical bloke and I assume a lot of you reading this are too, which is why the lack of any sort of guidance on how to approach your goals baffled me.
It’s what also led me to sit down before writing this and develop my own process for how to extract exactly what I wanted from life.
Long story short, I faced up to some hard truths and realised exactly what I needed to do with my life – hopefully some of you will too.
A bit further on, I’ll show you my exact process and answers so that you can get started on your own journey to freedom.
Read on amigos.
Where to start?
Like with anything in life, just starting is the hardest part.
The following questions will get you started in no time at all. Just write these down and think (not too much) about your answers.
If you think too much, you’ll end up writing down answers that you think you should be putting down like “3 bedroom house”, “55 inch latest plasma TV” and everyone’s favourite “solid pension plan for retirement”.
These are all fine by the way, but are they really things that you want to actually do with your life?
The point of the exercise is to think exactly what you would do if money were no object.
That’s what we’re shooting for here. Hypothetically, you don’t need to bust your balls for anything – so what would you do?
Here are the questions to ask yourself and my answers for reference.
Once you’ve answered number 1, write this list down on a piece of paper and refer back to them multiple times a day to remind yourself to pursue these pleasures constantly.
1. What things actually bring you joy (with no regrets)?
– Eating great food at a restaurant
– A hard workout in the gym
– Preparing (and eating) home-cooked food
– Spending time with my friends and family
– Playing football
– Building and improving things (this is why I’m desperate to get on the property ladder asap lol)
– Researching obscure, bordering on pointless things.
– Being outdoors
– Sitting on a beach soaking up that Vit D
2. Is your current job what you want to do forever?
Yes. Although my previous job as a customer service assistant wasn’t.
If your answer is no, try to make the most of the situation while you can by building friendships that will stand the test of time and build up as much wealth as you can to enable you to quit your job and move on to your true vocation as soon as possible.
3. What is your favourite thing to do on your days off?
– Go somewhere new.
– Have a meal/drink somewhere.
– Spend time with people that excite me who I can talk to all day.
– Relax at home
4. If you were retired with a pension, what would you spend your days doing?
– Thinking about the inevitable clutches of death
– Wetting my adult diaper
– Thinking about all the missed opportunities I didn’t take because I was scared and thought that I might regret them.
See where I’m going with this?
5. What lifestyle do you want for yourself?
One of freedom. I never want to answer to anyone again and want to live life on my own terms.
6. Without listing anything material – what do you desire?
– A hearty dose of adventure.
This all sounds like one of those Live. Laugh. Love. posters doesn’t it bloody hell. It’s pretty much true though.
We all want to be excited, we all love to laugh and adventures get our hearts beating. We’re all kids deep down – it’s just that the world beats it out of us and we become numb to it all.
Just look how happy kids are. They do whatever they want and they all seem to be drunk on good times.
Have you ever felt so great you felt drunk? Imagine what that feels like.
We can all get there though, we’ve just got to try!
7. Is there something you’ve never experienced that you’d love to do?
– Cliff diving (can you tell I want to try diving?)
– Travelling through Thailand before us Westies ruin it.
– Do a full public speaking set
– Eat in a Michelin star restaurant
I had an inkling that it would be the case but I didn’t think it would be so clear cut – everything that I desire in life requires very little in the way of riches.
Obviously every form of pastime involves a little bit of monetary investment but if you can turn your passion into a steady stream of income, this shouldn’t be an issue.
The biggest thing for me is simply being free to do what I want, when I want.
Lately, I’ve been stuck in somewhat of a rut surrounding my job as a writer and worrying about making as much money as possible so that I can get involved in property development right now, but it doesn’t need to be right now.
Everything I would do when I have all the money in the world, I can already do right now. I can play whatever sport I want for a nominal fee, I can go and explore new countries on the cheap, I can afford to go out to restaurants and do things with those I love for a fair price.
Not everybody has this luxury, but we can all certainly work towards it. After you complete this exercise, you’ll find that the goals you thought you might have had if money were no object weren’t really your goals at all.
Most people, when it boils down to it, want the same basic things.
We want connection and we want joy. If you’ve got those two boxed off and you can appreciate the small things that you do every day, you’ll be well on your way to a happy life.
We all get too bogged down in the notion that ‘When I have X, I’ll be happy’ and we delay our happiness until a future that never comes. We’ve got to open our eyes and realise that everything we truly desire, we can have right now.
We can be truly happy in this moment.
How to implement these into your life
Once you’ve got a steady income doing whatever you do – be that the job you don’t really want to do or the vocation that you love more than anything in the world – start your implementation process.
Sort your basic needs out: Rent, phone bill, food, car and gym (and whatever other genuine essentials you need to sort, obviously). After this, put away 10-15% in your bank account for savings and if you can, invest another 10-15% into stocks.
If you’re familiar with compound interest, you’ll realise that putting money into stocks right now will pay you a ridiculously good return further down the line that will sort you out for the rest of your life – I personally use Hargreaves Lansdown as they’re the best in the UK.
Then feel free to completely blow the rest on clothes, meals out, drinks, drugs – whatever the bloody hell you want. If it’s one of the things you’d pursue if money were no object, go wild.
I mean, maybe not the drugs and booze so much but you get the idea. You don’t want to be pinching pennies because that’s not the life to live. The whole point of this article is to show you that you can live a fulfilling life on a standard budget – but it can’t help to plan for the future whilst you’re indulging your hedonistic streak.
If you’re looking to break free from that 9-5 life, start after work and weekends on your passion, build up your savings, try to transform your passion and skills into an income and soon enough, you’ll have enough (about 6 month’s salary) saved up to pursue your dream.
Eventually, you’ll want to build up some passive income to keep you going as you pursue your passion projects more and more. My main passive income source is the book as everything else requires a bit of work but you can find lots more passive income sources online.
The ‘If money were no object’ lifestyle
Once you’ve gotten your answers, life might just become that bit simpler.
Small hiccups in the road along the way won’t bother you as much because you know what the bigger picture is, you know your purpose and you’re essentially mentally bulletproof.
Since identifying exactly what I would do with my life if money were no object, I’ve allowed myself to get lost in my writing again, falling in love with reading, sketching and learning for the first time since I was about 7.
That all sounds a bit airy fairy doesn’t it?
To be honest, I don’t care!
Once you know what your purpose is and know what gets you going, you needn’t be embarrassed or feel pressured into doing anything else.
We all seem to forget that life is finite and we judge others for pursuing their dreams even if it means a lower paycheque.
Erm, so what?
Why run yourself into the ground building someone else’s empire just for a higher salary that you’ll waste on pointless nonsense to fill your house, wardrobe and driveway with? I know I’d choose a smaller income if it meant I could do whatever I pleased every day for the rest of my life.
Hence why I blog lol.
As Alan Watts says (and I’m paraphrasing here), no matter what you’re doing, someone else will be interested in it.
Basically, whatever your passion is – do it. Over time, you will master your craft and eventually, it’ll pay the bills because there are people out there who will pay for it.
I was a lousy writer for the best part of a year and in all honesty, I still am. Yet, that hasn’t stopped me quitting my job and making it my career.
If a bum like me can down tools and follow his dreams, I have no doubt that you can too.
Hopefully, this has opened your eyes and allowed you to feel comfortable asking the ultimate question – what would you do with your life if money were no object?
Maybe this has provided an incentive to work hard enough so that you can quit your job and follow your dreams, or maybe it’s given you crippling anxiety and you want to hide under a rock and die.
Either way, you’ve reached this impasse and it’s better to get here sooner rather than later.
Now you can go forward and live the life you want to live.