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With all the money in the world

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My father was a career counselor that studied with Richard N. Bolles many years ago.

As a result of this background, he always taught me a bunch of stuff about life direction, how to do the work that matters to you, etc. I was brought up with this stuff; it was normal to me.

One thing he said to me was: “I ask people what they would like to do if they had everything taken care of, all the money they need, forever.”

One guy said he wanted to open a grocery store. He had spent all this time in one when he was younger and it brought him a lot of joy to spend time in that kind of place. So he opened one, and loved it.

When I was young, he asked me too. I said: “I’d take care of trees.” (Not even really sure what that means.)

What would you do? Would you focus on your family, or try to change the world? Would you do something for yourself? Where would your priorities be?

The interesting thing is that we really don’t need as much money as we think we do. So much of it is superfluous and doesn’t really make us happy, so these things are far closer within reach than we think they are.

So what would you do? Think about it for a sec, and write the first thing that comes to mind below.

* Filed by Julien at 1:25 pm under direction


Hi, I’m Julien Smith. I'm the founder and CEO of Breather.

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14 Responses to “With all the money in the world”

  1. Brent the Closet Geek Says:

    I’ve spent the last year reexamining my life goals, I totally did it the backwards way. Deferring what I wanted in lieu of what I thought I’d needed.

    All I’ve nailed down is this:
    - i want to make things
    - i want to share music with people because i want them to feel the same way it makes me feel
    - i want to help other people accomplish their own goals – few things give me joy like finding a website/book/song/whatever that i know a particular person will like/find useful to them.

    Your talk at Third Tuesday really helped me get my ass into gear with that first part. My new podcast / DJ Mix venture is currently doing really well. Thanks for the all the encouragement.

  2. Melissa dying of Lupus Says:

    Well – I’m already dying of lupus -like on House- except I AM sick with it and it IS lupus. So all the money in the world will not cure me unless I could get scientists to stop drop and roll themselves into some sort of CURE for lupus.

    Then I’d finish writing the last 3 chapters of my dissertation and get a job at some scrappy little college and teach under privileged college students who have never been told they were smart or any good their entire lives. And I’d make them see themselves as they REALLY ARE — beautiful and intelligent and capable — just underprivileged. And I’d tell them they have a responsibility to make it so other people have it better then they do.

    And I’d go make people laugh – a lot- because I’m good at it.

    And then I’d make sure I cuss and drop the f-bomb a good amount. Just because I find it an amusing word. Watch- FUCK FUCK FUCK. see – refreshing.

    And I’d health care so people like me (who were life long students) had health care and don’t get sick and die of stupid, easily preventable, easily handled illnesses. Or at least I’d educate the best and brightest to go do it for me.

    And I’d hand out socks and underwear to the poor. And then fix poverty. Or I’d educate the best and brightest to go do it for me.

    You know what– FUCK LUPUS — I want my fucking health back because I had the life I wanted and I was grateful for it every day of my life.

    And now that I don’t have my health- I make people laugh, and I love, and I drop the f-bomb as much as possible to make people realize that it’s HATRED AND STUPIDITY not cursing and boobies that are horrible.

    I’ve lived the life I wanted a thousand times over and if I have to die — I WILL GO BIG OR GO HOME MOTHERFUCKERS!

  3. Whitney Says:

    You are taking care of trees in a way- saving them from becoming paper and entering people into a digital world :)

    Looking forward to your upcoming presentation at Theater N in Wilmington. You guys are folk heroes here.

  4. Mend-Orshikh Says:

    Whether one should spend his or her given money for oneself or things that matter for all people depends on lots of things, such as background, characteristics, and lot more.

    Recently, I read about Karl Rabeder, Austrian millionaire, who gave his fortune, and I thought how amazing his decision was. His simple answer was “Money is counterproductive – it prevents happiness to come.” On the other hand, it is hard to judge someone who really deserves for materialistic things because of his or her background, childhood, or so. I bet you guys understand what I mean by background or so.

    “First amend thyself, then settle your family; after that assess your government” has been said from generation to generation by Mongolian nomadic herdsmen. Although it is not related what you really asked, in my view, in order to spend his or her money for trees, one should need to be educated. Not by higher education or MBA. I mean one should at least follow blog like this.

  5. Larry Says:

    Help those who are less fortunate. The gap between the haves and the have-nots is growing at an alarming rate and is causing real misery for millions – millions – of people.

    And it seems that many on the “fortunate” end care little about the others; it seems the only thing they care about is getting more and more and more…

  6. Serge Lachapelle Says:

    The problem is I don’t know…

  7. Ric Dragon Says:

    This seems like a continuation of your artist blog!

    Oh, if it was so easy. No, you don’t need as much money as you think you do, but you do need it – particularly if you have a family. (can artists have families?).

    Its a good question; “what would you do if you had all your money needs met?” But if you do have to mix it up, can it be done with integrity?

  8. Susan Murphy Says:

    I’d travel around the world then write about what I see.

  9. John McLachlan Says:

    Though I present a list below of what I would do, I’m not so unhappy now with things. I generally like doing most of what I do. I do however, think we sometimes get stuck in our routines and don’t realize how different things could really be. Your post prompted me to reconsider my situation.

    In your scenario, even though I wouldn’t need to earn money, I would still want to work. I know how important that is for mental health.

    With that in mind, I would take on only a very few work projects at any one time and only ones that really interested me. The majority would be with solo artists or projects for very cool, little non-profits.

    I would speak more in front of people, not because it’s something I’m afraid of but because it’s something I so enjoy doing. It seems to bring out my old “performing” side that gives me so much joy.

    I would NOT spend any time doing administrative work.

    Outside of work:
    > I would read way more books split evenly between fiction and non-fiction.

    > I would take up photography again like I did when I was younger, not to do anything with the images, but simply for the process of taking the images and the joy I get from that. This would also take me to physical places I wouldn’t necessarily go to.

    > I would sleep more (which would be possible because of a shorter, less demanding “to do” list. (I know from experience that when my “to do” list gets smaller, I sleep better.)

    > I would exercise more than I do now (though I do already exercise a fair bit).

    I could do all of these things but I need the courage to let go. Letting go of the incredibly strong feeling of having to say “yes” to work all the time is the toughest. (I’m not confusing this with other things in life that we do should say yes to).

    You are right Julien, in that we don’t need as much money as we think we do. It’s very easy to get caught in the “always needing more” syndrome. For me right now, I’m in an expensive condo in downtown Vancouver that requires quite a bit of money however, my partner and I are trying to sell it right now and we will build (debt free) on some land on Hornby Island over the next couple of years.

    So, all of this is doable. I just have to do it. There is nothing stopping me.

  10. Lisa Yallamas Says:

    I’d be doing exactly what I’m doing now – and more.

  11. Khaled El-Hage Says:

    Is it a What or a How thing?

    Do whatever you want as long as you do it in a way that makes you enjoy the process as much as the end result.

    Did I find the way? Not really, but I progressed slightly over the past 20 years.

  12. Adam Daniel Mezei Says:

    I’d embrace the transformative powers of film and filmmaking, more generally, as calls to action and to clue people onto a message.

    I’d spend all day devising scripts and shooting styles in order to compel people to do something about it.

    Something like what James Balog did here:
    http://ike4.me/tedtalks

    in his talk about glacial retreat and ice floes:
    http://www.extremeicesurvey.org

  13. Kelli Brown Says:

    Amazingly, I’d probably do a lot of what I do for work now, but it would be lovely to be able to choose clients based on who could get the most out of my services and not who can afford them.
    And I’d work a bit less, learn a bit more and spend more time with my family.
    Thanks for helping me realize how close to ideal things already are.

  14. Julie Roads Says:

    I would write and write and write and write. Which I do now – but a good chunk of it is for clients, and I’d do more for myself.

    I would create with the incredible people that I know – we all have so many ideas…but time and money are always the stoppers.

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