What if you won the lottery?

By Lawrence Ross 

January 23, 2023


Dylan Nolte on Unsplash


New year. New goals. New dreams. Maybe one of yours includes winning the lottery. And like lots of people, you’ve probably wondered just how you’d spend your winnings.


But maybe that’s the wrong question.


We live in a world that tells us time is money, so instead of thinking about how you’d spend the money, why not ask yourself how you would change the way you spend your time?


Today’s average lifespan is about 82 years*, which is just a mere 4,264 weeks. Winning the lottery might drop more money in your bank account but not more weeks in your time account.


Musician and composer Miles Davis figured it out. He famously said, “time isn’t the main thing, it’s the only thing”. And study after study confirms it - being time-affluent leads to greater happiness.


In 2015 the folks at the Department of Psychology at the University of British Columbia looked into how people think about time and money and found the happiest people are those who prioritize time over money.


The study surveyed students still in school and adults in the work force. The results showed that students who prioritized time over money were looking for career paths that would give them more free time. Among those adults already working, those who prioritized time over money reported working fewer hours on average each week.



Our World In Data - Time Use


If we break down our 4,264 weeks further, we all have 1,440 minutes in a day. A survey conducted with data from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) on time use around the world found we have a lot in common with our neighbours near and far.


People in most countries spend 80-90% of the day sleeping, doing paid work, eating, and leisure activities. Curiously, but not surprisingly, our French, Greek, Italian, and Spanish counterparts reported spending more time eating than people in most other European countries (around an hour and a half a day) where Canadians spend about an hour eating a day. We see you Stanley Tucci.


Making trade-offs between time and money is how we’re programmed. It's a balancing act we might have grown up watching our parents trying to perfect, all the while vowing to do things differently. What if the time to do that is now?


Rethinking how we spend our time now at our careers, leisure, with our family and in pursuit of our interests is vital.  In my practice I challenge clients to make adjustments to their lives, including making small changes in the number of days they work per week\year and starting to do the things now that they were planning to do in the future when they retire. 


Whether it's changing your job or workweek to free up more time or paying someone to do the tasks that use up your time and energy, how you decide to spend your remaining weeks is the question you need to continue to ask yourself.


And once you have that answer, you can start to figure out how to make your money work for you so that your time is your own.


Incredibly, after assisting clients through my Lottery Question™ process, most are surprised to see a plan that ultimately allows them to do most of what they would like without needing to win the lottery.


As author Marthe Troly-Curtin said, “time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.” Think on that!


*Statistics Canada


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