According to the North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries, Americans spent $70 billion on lottery tickets in 2014! When I first read this stat in an Atlantic.com article, I was horrified. That’s a lot of freaking money spent, usually by those who can afford it the least, to play a game you’re likely to never win.
But the more I thought about it, the more I realized my shock wasn’t just confined to the amount of money spent in a single year. It was also because of what I viewed as the relationship between effort and opportunity.
Misplaced Effort Equals Missed Opportunities
I have only ever purchased a lotto ticket a handful of times; usually when the jackpot is ridiculously high and I join the chorus of, “you got to be in it to win it.” I am best described as a casual, infrequent participant who plays solely for fun and entertainment. But, there are others who play on a weekly basis with hopes that winning will solve all their problems and woes.
It would be easy for me to stand on my high-horse but for this fact:
At the end of the day, we are all chasing our hopes and dreams. We each do this in our own way.
For some, playing the lottery is a way. And the slim odds of winning seem just as probable as anything else you might endeavor to do to fulfill your goals and desires.
Given my line of work, I find this disheartening. Given my line of work, I also know you don’t have to actually play the lottery to have a jackpot mentality about your life and your money.
My fundamental problem with this way of living is that it lulls people into abdicating their power and their future to…chance.
As I continued to mull over the staggering $70 billion spent on lottery tickets, it occurred to me that there are three very specific ways playing the lottery can help you create an amazing financial plan.
Whether you play or just imagine playing the lottery, it is an exercise in magical thinking. You envision all the things you’d do with your windfall – the obligations you’d satisfy; the dreams you’d fulfill. You fantasize.
That also happens to be a good starting point for an awesome financial plan. You combine magical thinking with purposeful planning and strategic action. You take control.
It’s rather seductive to put down a $1 and potentially get back millions. That’s one heck of an effort-to-result ratio! But you know the saying, “you get out of it what you put in.”
Quick-fix thinking overshadows the reality of the small odds of winning and (mistakenly) perceives the risk taken as being low. $1 here and there may not seem like “a lot.” But to hit the $70 billion mark, that’s actually $300 for each adult in the states where lotteries are legal!
Planned progress may not come with the same excitement of a lottery windfall, but it certainly doesn’t leave your future to random chance.
With a plan, you’re able to plot out what effort is required, how much of it is needed and when is it best to push hard or slow down. You spidey-senses are on alert, and you are more aware of your financial leaks (and what to do about them), as well as the financial opportunities that you previously may have overlooked.
Lotteries make you feel special for all the wrong reasons. After all, only a few can win. Your luck is based on a whim.
With a plan, you’re special for all the right reasons. You win simply by having a plan that was created just for you! It reflects your values, hopes, dreams, goals and obligations. And, respects what scares you. Your “luck” is planned.
It’s Saturday. And that means the Powerball drawing is tonight. If you bought a ticket, you just might win some or all of the $171 million jackpot.
Don’t wait for a lottery winning to do for you what a well, thought-out financial plan can. Put the fantasies in your head about what you’d do with your winnings down on paper. Then make a plan to make it happen – even if you don’t win.
And if you didn’t play the lottery or your “jackpot mentality” is in a different form, take the same steps as outlined above.
Everything that the lottery isn’t is a perfect set up for you to create an awesome and purposeful financial plan that can serve you today and in the future. In other words, you already have the right numbers to create the life you want.
p.s. Are you interested in combining magical thinking with purposeful planning and strategic action? Let’s chat; click here.