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How to Win the Lottery Even If You Lose

How were you hoping your life would change?

The growing craziness of Powerball Fever inspired me to revisit a blog post I wrote several years ago. Creating what I called a "Lottery Experiment," I encouraged readers to write a paragraph each day for a week about how they would spend their winnings.

The participants found that their dreams changed over the week and evolved from simple fantasies of escape and luxury into creating a life that had more meaning.

After all, we don't generally want to acquire money just to have lots of greenish pieces of paper around. We want what the money represents. So what does money represent to you? Your Lottery fantasies might just help you create a better life based on what is important if you take the time to think about it.

Lotteries are great for dreaming. Outside of actually winning, much of the fun of playing a lottery is the time between when you purchase the ticket and when the numbers are announced. It's all about the anticipation. After all, to quote Humphrey Bogart in The Maltese Falcon, lotteries are "the stuff that dreams are made of." Most of us engage in interesting fantasies about how we would spend our money, and our days, after winning the lottery. And then when we don't win, it's back to work, back to school, back to our usual lives.

But what if we took advantage of our momentary dreams? What if we paid attention to that life we wanted to have? Maybe it’s time to start living the dream even if you didn’t “win.” What aspects of your lottery dream could you begin to incorporate in your life? What did the money mean to you?

For many people, money represents freedom. A chance to relax, focus on what we want to do, and forget about responsibility.

Did you dream about moments of tranquility and relaxation (the proverbial margarita on the beach)? How can you carve aside some time today (yes, today) for relaxation? Can you skip a meeting or find an hour this evening where you unplug everything, fix yourself a glass of juice or wine or whatever, and just breathe? Maybe put on some relaxing music. YouTube has tons of relaxing videos. A short meditation or hypnosis session might just be what you need to start de-stressing.

Maybe it's freedom from your current work environment. Did you fantasize about how you would quit your job? Well there's a sign—and you're the only one who can interpret it. Would you quit simply because you no longer needed the income, or because you are genuinely unhappy, bored, or frustrated in your work? Should you be seeking another job, another career field, or another way to spend your life? If your work isn't satisfying, maybe this lottery fantasy is a wake-up call to do something new.

Freedom to spend more time on hobbies is a common fantasy. Did you think about the hobbies you would like to pursue? List them and start thinking about how you could incorporate them into your life now. Maybe you can't afford the tricked-out fishing boat you were going to buy with your winnings, but can you rent or borrow a boat for a few hours this weekend and go fishing? Or start a savings account to build the funds to buy a (perhaps less ostentatious) boat that would be great for weekends on the lake? Did you envision lots of time to practice the piano or guitar, or take up painting? It's just time. You don't have to spend a lot of money. You can find a used piano and take lessons online if you can't afford a private teacher. Online course programs like Udemy offer inexpensive ways to learn new hobbies or job skills.

Did you fantasize about the good work you can do for charities or to help relatives? Maybe you can't afford to donate thousands of dollars, but charities can use whatever you give them. That $5 or $50 donation may not be as exciting as your fantasy, but whatever project you thought was worthy of your millions, is worthy of whatever you can give. The same thing goes for relatives: you might not be able to afford to pay a relative's college tuition as you fantasized, but you can give them a gift card for coffee or to purchase books.

So... you may just have won a lot by losing the lottery. You might have just won the start of a life that is more meaningful, authentic, and fulfilling because you have uncovered your real desires. Your lottery dreams reveal a lot about you—don't waste them.

© 2016 Dr. Katharine S. Brooks. All rights reserved. Find me on Facebook. Follow me on Twitter.