What would your day look like in five years if you had a billion dollars deposited in your bank account today?
I have asked that question to hundreds of people and the answers usually start with ‘traveling the world’ or ‘donating to some cause.’ At this point I remind the person answering that it isn’t about what they would do right after they had the money and it isn’t about what they would do with the money, but rather what they would do with their time in five years. What would their actual schedule look like from waking up to going to bed in five years?
This exercise can reveal so much about our vision of who we want to be, and more importantly, who we are.
STEP ONE: Realize Your SI’s
The first step is to understand that we set up barriers for ourselves.
When we think of our future we automatically set up barriers for ourselves, I call them The Three SI’s [insert dramatically despondent ‘sigh’].
Self-Inflicted – (present) we make wrong choices that put us in a situation where we cannot succeed.
Self-Imagined – (future) we think that it will be impossible because of a whole array of variables that may or may not transpire taking the form of what-if’s.
Self-Imposed – (past) we determine that we cannot succeed in our goal because others (and maybe even we) have failed.
Here is the thing; our dreams are like a balloon and as our dreams grow and inflate with hope, the higher we go. But the higher we go, the farther we have to fall if the balloon pops. So what do we do? We place barriers to guard us from falling. We limit our dreams to protect our heart. We do things that prevent us from achieving greatness, fear an unknown future, and lament over an impossible set of historical data. But if we remove all those barriers and live outside The Three SI’s, then we can let our dreams take flight to exactly where they want to go.
Imagining ourselves as billionaires is one way to do that—because most problems, in our mind, can be solved with money. Now obviously, you can’t go from a minimum wage job to traveling around saving the world. There are some constraints. But this is where this exercise gets fun.
STEP TWO: Make your schedule in five years with a billion dollars.
After you accept the possibility that there are barriers that only you can control, make your list of things you would do with your time in five years if you had a billion dollars. Write down what activities would fill your calendar—it’s not about your money, it is about your time. Go ahead, take 60 seconds and write it down.
STEP THREE: Find out WHY
Now…take that list and ask yourself “why” at least five times for each item. The key is to answer “why” only for the previous answer and thinking about nothing else. By the last time you answer “why” you are usually at the core desire for that particular item.
This is the essence of your dream, your vision of yourself and a core desire.
For example, one participant said that he wanted to own a jet to fly. Here is how our dialogue went:
Me: (1)Why do you want to fly?
Him: Because I want to see new countries.
Him: Because I want to get to know new people.
Him: Because I want to understand more cultures.
Him: Because I want to connect with people better with more common ground?
Him: H’m….well, I don’t know. I guess because I want to build a relationship to help them.
Me: So the real reason you want to fly is because you want to help people?
Him: Yeah…that feels right.
And that is the key. If it feels right, if you would be happy in the pursuit of and not just in the achievement of it, you’re there. You have discovered a core desire. And so can my friend fly? You bet he can! He can call someone to see if they need help with a project. He can write and deliver a thank you note to someone who needs a pick-me-up. He can let someone else have that front row parking spot.
As he helps people, he is living his life as a billionaire. He isn’t worried about his self-inflicted, self-imagined and self-imposed barriers, for he is living his dream.
At the conclusion of these exercises with others, the most that someone has ever had to pay to fulfill his or her core desire is one dollar.
That is how much it costs to live your life as a billionaire.
Your biggest dreams are your core desires screaming to become a reality. Give those desires breath by living your life as a billionaire. For life is about your time, not your money.
And guess what? You’ve got as much time as any billionaire.