Why People buy Lottery Tickets instead of Creating their Dream Life?

Why people buy lottery tickets, when there’s almost zero chance they’ll ever win? Previously I thought the answer is obvious: They buy because they want the millionaire lifestyle right now! Instant gratification! Boom: Millionaire life. Now.

However, after giving it additional thoughts, this seemed not to be the complete truth.

Actually, people buy lottery tickets ritualistically because it gives them the permission to regularly fantasise about living the millionaire lifestyle. It’s like buying a movie ticket for your own inner mental cinema showing: “Me, the Millionaire”

Apparently having this fantasy playing in your “Kopfkino” is worth $2 a week to many fellow humans. In fact, a large majority of people show very similar behaviour with all kind of stuff such as weight loss products, get-rich-quick schemes and products, dating products, you name it.

Why not spend the money on a one-year gym membership and then daydream about losing weight while not actually going back to the gym?

How convenient! For a seemingly small amount of money you can instantly “buy” yourself a solution to calm your inner voice that’s constantly asking you to change something in your life: Like a lottery ticket.

Just imagine parking right here! They are mostly empty though… how come?

The main problem here is most folks attempting to consume their way to happiness will realize that after having bought their “feel-good” products and picturing what life could become: Instead of changing life itself – everything remains the same. And soon next purchase of happiness is needed. Like an addictive drug.

There’s no instant rich, no instant weight-loss and no easy way to success.

via GIPHY

How about yourself? Many people spend more time reading about getting rich, successful people or businesses, instead of attempting to build one themselves? Sure, we all need inspiration. But how to actually get started once you feel you got the right amount of inspiration?

Most people persistently complain about “not having enough money or time”. They worry about their lack of success, instead of focusing on their small victories and building on what they’ve already got.

Luckily: Most successful people, wealth and businesses where not “built” overnight.

Somehow, it’s quite logic, the bigger a dream you dream, the higher an ambition you have and especially the more impossible your plan seems, the more scared you might get that you could fail. Many humans somehow fail to see beyond their own worries, concerns or problems and panic as a result of fear-based decisions.

F-E-A-R has two meanings:

Forget everything and run

Face everything and rise

The choice is yours.

– Zig Ziglar

In other words: If something isn’t working after a few days, or weeks, they move onto something else. And then something else again, and on and on the cycle goes. Until at one point in time, guess what, they buy their next lottery ticket once again and break the chain of trying – by giving up.

How to break this apparent inevitable downwards spiral?

Let’s get to work!

The key to change is simple, but not easy: Slowly reduce and then replace consumption with creation. Instead of daydreaming about getting rich, start earning more, saving more and learn how to invest and making money work for you. Instead of going to restaurants, start cooking more at home. Instead of reading more, start writing more. Instead of buying craft-beers, start brewing yourself! Need veggies? Plant them! Haircut? Learn how to do it yourself. Make it a habit to keep learning and doing.

“Stay afraid but do it anyway. What’s important is the action. You don’t have to wait to be confident. Just do it and eventually the confidence will follow.”

– Carrie Fisher

Like anything at the beginning, it might feel awkward and you might not get immediate success or satisfaction.

However: Keep at it! See it as a transformation. Important is that you’ll take the first steps and that you keep going.

As you keep learning, doing, creating – whatever it may be – you’ll feel how your skills improve day by day. If you just improve 1% day over day, imagine how much better you’ll be in a years’ time, two years’ from now, in a decade! It’s the law of compounding! Your wealth will grow, your self-cooked food will get better, your haircuts will start to look better, your writing will get more appealing, you will get more confident and have more fun. And one day you might be able to do stuff you don’t even dare to dream as of now.

Besides: Creating value to the world is so much more satisfying than mere consuming stuff or ideas other people created.

Ultimately, you’ll gain mastery from doing. It takes time and repetition. The better you get at doing something, the more enjoyable creating will get. The more value you can add to the world, the more ideas will be pushing you from the inside – asking you to get realized.

You will transform into an idea-machine: An Imagineer!

Eventually you can’t leave your home anymore without a notebook to write down your new ideas as they come and hopefully you can’t even wait to start and keep doing again. Once you wake up, you’d want to jump out of bed to get back doing and you’ll be filled with a new kind of energy and deep satisfaction.

Believe it or not: Humans are born to be imaginative creators!

Not lottery-ticket buyers.

For most of human history there were no lottery-tickets.

In a way, it was only the occurrence of the industrial revolution that started to change how we humans spent our days. Thanks to increased productivity, corporations suddenly found themselves drowning in too much supply and not enough demand.

They had to find ways to convince us we need more; they improved marketing in order to let an increasing amount of people believe they need to consume more in order to “keep the economy going”. Unfortunately, many bought into this lifestyle.

Most surprisingly is that especially nowadays, where most of us are fully aware of this bombardment from advertisers, we still let them do it and give them evermore of our attention – the new currency of the 21st century. We let them into our lives, our homes, our screens and they know more than ever before about us. Just think about the big data-collectors on this planet.

The problem is that we believe we can fill our inner emptiness by consuming the right products and services. However, we can NEVER get ultimate satisfaction by simply consuming more. Actually, the opposite is true. The more we consume, the more we tend to experience stress and anxiety. The more we consume and possess, the more our possessions possess us – mentally, physically and emotionally.

All my things, what a mess, what to do?

It takes time to realize that the solution to this problem is on the other side of the equation: We’re so into this consumer mindset that we forget our inherent urge to create. At least for me, the solution is to consume less and create more. If we spend more time creating, we will automatically spend less time consuming. This saves money, builds skills and experience and leads to a happier life.

“The cost of living is dying.”

Find one thing that will add value to your life, your family and the world – and let’s start creating it! Step by step. Doing so will provide you much more satisfaction than purchasing a lottery ticket and just dreaming about another, better life while your actual life, your time passes by.

For myself, acquiring new skills, applying them and creating has and always will be an essential part of my life. Even though I can afford to have my hair cut, I bought an electric haircutting machine, I love to cook myself, learnt how to brew my beer, paint the walls in my home, started an indoor herb garden and much more. Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change. So, stop wishing, start doing.

The only limitation is your fantasy…

What would you love to be able to create?

Would be happy to read more about this in the comments!

Happy creating!

Matt

Disclaimer: I must admit having bought lottery tickets myself – and will buy again in the future. It’s a fun thing to fantasize and hey, I choose to be called Financial Imagineer. While I enjoy the fantasies, I don’t build my “wealth building strategy” solely on lottery tickets and will not be too disappointed by not winning. Should you have won the lottery already and wonder what to do now, please look no further and read here. There are too many horror stories and horrifying stats about lottery winners getting rich quickly and losing everything again.

Who Wouldn’t Want to Be a Millionaire: 6 Life-Winning-Lessons From a “Who Wants to Be A Millionaire” Contestant

What would you do if you received a $ 1 million jackpot? How does it actually feel to receive a windfall? What to do with it and how could it impact your life in the short, medium and long run?

Let’s first think about what you could possibly do with a large financial windfall?
– splurge (Sir? The Lamborghini in same gold as the Maybach?)
– take a sabbatical and travel to exotic locations, sipping martinis all day long
– travel to Vegas (all or nothing)
– re-invest in lottery tickets
– buy a house and/or pay-off your mortgage
– invest all into Vanguard ETFs and draw an annual $40,000 forever (Trinity study, 4% withdrawal rate)
– keep calm and carry on

Here’s what a Financial Imagineer would do with a $ 1 million windfall:

Keep calm and carry on!

 

Keep calm and carry on!

You find this hard to believe?

Looking through all the above options, this clearly appears to be the most boring choice. But hey, I’ve got a rather personal story for you guys today. Let me explain.

Once upon a time, I won a windfall myself.

I wanted to be a Millionaire.

We write the year 2001, my most crazy side-hustling days: During daytime, I was usually studying business administration and economics. Frequently, after sundown, you’d find me baking up to 200 pizzas each night at the first pizza home delivery franchise in my hometown. Saturdays, you’d find me advising clients at a bank counter and Sundays I’d be running the local polling station in our village.

Some wondered if I’d ever catch some sleep.

One evening, I was sitting on our couch watching the Swiss edition of “Who wants to be a Millionaire” on TV3. Somehow, none of the contestants ever seemed to make it past the first 10 questions. It got boring and frustrating. It quickly became painful for me to keep watching. I knew and appreciated the show from abroad and generally liked it because you usually learnt something while watching – infotainment. The entertainment value of the local version was rock-bottom. This tickled a nerve.

Instead of applying the ordinary way, I sent a feedback letter asking them to invite more suitable candidates in order to improve the infotainment value of their show. Little did I know that my written rant would be read and acted upon. Before I knew it, we – my then girlfriend and myself – got invited to participate as contestants at the TV show “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire”.

Turn sound on, click “play” and listen as you read on!

We spent the two weeks prior to the recording with extensive preparations. Since nobody could every finish reading Wikipedia (back then it was the Microsoft Encyclopaedia on CD Roms), we started feeding our brains with compressed wisdom using books like “The Knowledge Book: Everything You Need to Know to Get by in the 21st Century”. We also played the computer game of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” over and over again in order to get into shape and learn how we’d react if under pressure and what mistakes to avoid.

Ready Player One

Two weeks later it was showtime.

We entered the TV studio. The recording started. Game on. First question. Bam, I got on the hot seat. From there, everything went incredibly fast. And after less then 2 hours in the TV studio I was fortunate enough to have won a large windfall for the first time in my life.

How much did we win?

Actual screenshot from Swiss TV3 (2001)

We cleared about $125,000.

I was young, 21 years young to be exact, ran out of all three jokers and decided to call it a day. It felt surreal.

A short moment later they ripped the cables and microphones off me. There are still some blurred memories of me having shaken the show masters’ hand. My knees were soft, somehow it felt like flying on cloud number 9 to the back of the stage.

All of a sudden somebody tipped my shoulder, they pulled me back to reality.

A pen was handed to me and I was asked to clear the paper work in legalese. I signed. Sign-off here, sign-off there. Besides confirming how much we’ve won, the TV station asked me to also sign a non-disclosure agreement: We were not allowed to reveal the outcome of the show to ANYONE until the show was aired. It took another two weeks until my episode was on TV.

We went home.

Stealth wealth mode.

Swiss banking secrecy.

I knew the drill.

The Aftermath

In hindsight, this was probably the most awkward AND best situation I could ever have asked for. It was stealth-wealth practice. Maybe you have also read articles about how most lottery winners can’t handle a windfall and end up broke. I had time – time to think about how to win at life – despite having won a small fortune.

Here I was. Glowing in the inside. Ice cold on the outside. Poker face. Not allowed to talk about my experience of just having won a windfall. Pretending nothing has happened and going back to my normal busy life.

Some of my friends and colleagues knew that I participated on the show. Of course they asked all kind of questions. I played along and didn’t bother to talk too much about the show anymore for two weeks. I was back to “business as usual mode” and kept hustling. Literally the very next day, I was baking 200 pizzas again as if nothing happened. Many assumed that the show didn’t work out for me. At all.

Two weeks later, the TV show finally aired.

As the news spread, some colleagues wondered why I still show up at work and continue to bake pizzas until midnight, continue to advise banking clients on Saturdays and still rely on public transportation instead of buying a car.

What does a 21 year old do with a six-figure bank account?

First thing: I went to the ATM and printed an account statement for the record.

Nice, but now what?

The Splurge

It was a real honor for me as a young BA and Economics student to invite our family and selected friends for a restaurant celebration meal with drinks. Thereafter, we also splurged about $500 for a short break to sunny Spain, paid our taxes (ouch) and most importantly invested ALL the remaining into boring mutual funds.

That’s it.

Nothing else.

About two months later, we were back to normal and carried on with our lives.

Did my life change at all after that event?

Hell yeah it did!

Not immediately, but slowly.

The Transformation

Having had the extra cash aside, I slowly realized how much power came with it. Power over your own time and life. While most of my university classmates couldn’t wait to have their employment papers signed, I was dreaming to learn more, explore and discover the world.

Explore, Dream, Discover

With a fresh Masters Degree in my pocket, I took off on a 3 months backpacker trip to Central America. Learning Spanish, exploring a foreign culture and another way of life was extremely refreshing and eye-opening.

On my trip, I passed through New York, Toronto, then Bocas Del Torro in Panama, Turrialba in Costa Rica and many other exciting places. The scuba-dive course was $200. Spanish lessons came at $15 half a day including free coffee and internet. A night in a hostel was $7. Arroz con pollo $2 and cerveza for $1. The ultimate luxury dish, fresh caught lobster, butterfly style, set me back $5. Beautiful.

Bocas del Torro, Panama, watertaxi to Red Frog Beach (2003)

Conclusion: I learned a new language. Price tag: $3,000 and 3 months of my time.

It came with fun, adventure, new friendships and unforgettable memories. Actually, back in high school I sucked at learning languages! Now, without the pressure, I was enjoying it! Muchas gracias!

On the flight back home I got sad that this “graduation trip” is over. Then it dawned on me: While I was away, my investments more than fully covered for the trip already. Passively.

Bazinga!

“If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else.”
– Yogi Berra

This experience taught me that I enjoy getting lost in other cultures, eating stuff I’ve never tried before and exploring how other people live on this planet. My logical conclusion therefore was to double dare myself and set an even more ambitious target: learning Chinese. In early 2004 I left home again. This time to live and work in Taiwan, thanks to AIESEC.

I stayed in Taiwan for almost three years, worked for three different companies, learned Mandarin Chinese, and got to know my future wife. A whole new world opened itself: The Chinese hemisphere with all its opportunities.

Badaling, the Great Wall of China (2005)

In 2007 we – my beautiful, loving wife and I – returned to Switzerland. To say the least, the newly acquired Mandarin Chinese language skills and the cross-cultural awareness opened the door to a promising job covering Chinese speaking clients.

“Time is more valuable than money. You can always get more money, but you cannot get more time.”
– Jim Rohn

Don’t just invest your money, make sure that you also invest your time.

6 Life-Winning-Lessons

1) Keep Calm and Carry On.

If you win the jackpot, receive a windfall or get a huge inheritance: Keep calm and carry on. Circuit-break your natural busyness and stop the rat-race for a moment. Don’t adjust your lifestyle right away. You got all the time in the world to adapt slowly. Invest into buying time!

Make it a blessing, not a curse.

2) Take a Break and Celebrate Your Windfall.

Commemorate your big moment. Spend something but don’t splurge.

“The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.”
– Oprah Winfrey

3) Dream and Plan for the Long Term. Imagineer your life!

How many people have the opportunity to do this in life? How could such a windfall help you learn new skills, grow and have fun at the same time? Having/ taking time to reflect about life is extremely valuable. We all have different dreams. What is yours?

“A human being always acts, feels and performs in accordance with what he imagines to be true about himself and his environment. For imagination sets the goal ‘picture’ which out automatic mechanism works on. We act, or fail to act, not because of ‘will’, as is so commonly believes, but because of imagination.”
– Maxwell Maltz

4) Invest the Money and let Compounding do its Magic.

Imagine $125,000 invested in equities, growing at an annualized 10% for 20 years: $125,000 could have grown into  $1 million by itself by late 2021!

How to become a Millionaire if you didn’t win the full million at the show?

“The stock market is designed to transfer money from the Active to the Patient.”
– Warren Buffett

Become a successful navigator of the seven capitalistic seas!

Use a GPS and/or read up if needed.

5) Do a Real World MBA

In 2016 Tim Ferriss’ published his book “Tools of Titans”. One chapter is called “How to create a Real-World MBA”. His idea is quite straightforward:  Instead of spending a fortune and a couple of months of your lifetime on a MBA and simply “learning” theoretical stuff in classrooms from reputable PhD theoreticians and professors who use big words and fancy powerpoint slides but never left their campus themselves, you might as well use the same amount of money and start-up a company or create even better and more exciting learning and growing opportunities. Apparently exposing yourself to real-world experiments and experiences shapes you stronger than learning theoretical stuff from books alone. “Tools of Titans”. Great read.

From 2001 onwards I’ve bought time and invested in improving skills of all kind on an ongoing basis. This has not only kept my life interesting and adventurous but also brought me financial returns and lasting contentment later in life.

6) Give back

You can give back and share in many ways. Some people prefer to give money through donations or on a one-off basis. Others prefer to directly share their time and experience. This could be done through volunteering, mentoring/coaching or even with a blog. Ever since my windfall, I’ve done all of the before mentioned. It feels good if you can support and help others!

We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.
– Winston Churchill

Final Conclusion:

If you are lucky enough to win a windfall: Keep calm and carry on. Celebrate, but don’t splurge. You may not be able to stop time, but you can stop the rat-race and “buy” time. Dream and imagineer your future. Invest in your skills, your passion, life quality, memories and fun. Why? Because it will shape you and your loved ones in ways you could never have imagine before. Dreams are everything – technique can be learnt.

“You cannot advance if you cannot visualize the end from the start.”
– Nabil N. Jamal

What’s your dream? What’s your perfect life? Imagine the perfect day, all the people you’d like to see and have fun with, the passions you’d like to chase as well as all the places you’d like to go. What’s your dream and how do you plan to get there? Writing down your dreams is the first step!

Inspire all of us by leaving a comment below or on Twitter and Facebook.

Leave your comments below or on Twitter and Facebook!
Leave your comments below or on Twitter and Facebook!
Leave your comments below or on Twitter and Facebook!
Leave your comments below or on Twitter and Facebook!

Sweet dreams!
Financial Imagineer

 

Disclaimer:
This blog doesn’t finance itself, please be made aware that the product links used above are affiliate links for which Financial Imagineer might receive a compensation.