“Luck is when opportunity knocks, and you answer.” Author Unknown
Last night as I was cleaning the kitchen a commercial aired on TV advertising Lotto 649. As the thought of purchasing a ticket ran through my mind, I stopped and asked why. Why would I want to win the lottery? What would I do if I won? When you ask others what they would do if they won the lottery, many people talk about living their dream, spending their time and money as they wish. Dreams often include travel, moving to a new home, helping family, changing or altering careers, spending time with loved ones, and volunteering for meaningful causes. Thanks to a professor at the University of Victoria, I now think differently about the lottery.
In 2009, I travelled to U-Vic for the Fresh Minds Symposium: a day showcasing university life for bright young minds. Grade nine students had the opportunity to attend lectures on a variety of topics. Unfortunately I do not remember the name of the professor I had the pleasure of listening to, but I do remember his story. He started his lecture with a story about his personal background. He shared with the students that he had only been at U-Vic for a couple of years. Prior to that he lived in the Prairies with his family. He was working full-time, managing his career and family commitments while feeling overwhelmed. On his way home from work he decided to stop and buy a lottery ticket. He dreamed of the day he could win the lottery and change his life. He even decided to make a plan, asking himself what he would do if he won. He had always loved Victoria and so he decided he would move there. He had always wanted to do research and teach so he knew that even if he won millions, he would love to work for a local university once settling into Victoria. With a plan in place he waited with anticipation, hoping he could escape his current reality and live the life he dreamed of. Unfortunately he did not win. However, he learned some lessons from the lottery. He realized he was leaving his life to chance, and that he had the power to create the life he wanted even without winning millions. Of course he had to take some risks that could be avoided with a million dollar cheque, yet he used his experience as the motivation to start living the life he wanted. He applied to the University and within a couple of years he was able to achieve his goal of landing a job as a professor in Victoria.
When the commercial aired last night, I stopped to think: Why would I buy a ticket? What would I do if I won? Who could I help? How could I best spend my time? Where would I work? Where would my family live? When I answer these questions I recognize that I have the opportunity to pursue many of these dreams now, rather than leaving them to chance. My husband Shawn and I spent some time answering these questions. While we may not be able to make drastic changes to our lives without the lottery funds, we can use this experience to guide us in the right direction. When we have a big decision to make, we can stop and ask which solution aligns best with our dream. What do we want to learn? Where do we want to live? How can we best give back? Do we really need a lottery ticket to make these changes?
So… while I wish you the absolute best of luck winning the lottery, I encourage you to stop and ask yourself ‘why’ before you purchase another ticket. What are your really hoping for? What changes do you want to make? Are your dreams really best left to chance? Or can you make small changes today to live the life you really want. If we can learn lessons from the lottery to make positive change, then really we have already won.