When I ask my interview candidates what they would do if they didn’t have to work, I get to find out what they are most passionate about. Here’s what I would do if I suddenly had a billion dollars to spend:
I would pack up my family and see Canada. We would visit all the provinces and territories, spending a few weeks in each to explore locally. We would see the national parks and stop by cities, taking recommendations from locals as we go along. The trip would include a train ride through the Rockies.
We would come home once the kids start school. I will dedicate my time to photographing and filming stories worth telling. I would learn to use a flash and practice it often. We would spend our family time exploring local forests and mountains and now and then, bring our adventures abroad.
I would take kayaking lessons to gain enough confidence to do multi-day trips on open water and visit Haida Gwaii by kayak.
One billion being an enormously large sum, I would share some with my family. In particular, with by 10-year-old cousin, to help her continue to cultivate her love of song and performance. I would donate to causes I care about, like helping families and children obtain basic needs so that they can focus on education and have larger goals. Having my time to do with it as I will, I would volunteer in my community.
I would make sure I have some left over to invest, to make sure my kids will have enough to get them started on what they want to pursue in their lives. I hate dealing with money, so I would hire someone to take care of my money and just make sure I have enough.
As I reflect on this, time and energy are much more limited resources and money. How would I balance the time I spend on my own interests and spending time with my children and family? Involving my kids in my pursuits is one way I could kill two birds with one stone. But what if they are not interested?
The more I think about it, the more it seems that:
1) Health and motivation are so much more valuable than wealth.
2) Finding companionship on the road to achieving our aspirations can be an insurmountable task, so if you want something badly enough, be prepared to do it alone.
3) There will always be good reasons not to do something.
Accepting that I could never complete everything that I would like to do in this lifetime, there is no reason why I enjoy some of what I’m passionate about in my current life. I don’t need a billion dollars to evaluate my priorities and make some goals to do some of what I’ve written here.
I realize that I am in a very privileged position to say that the biggest limitation to achieving my goals is not financial. If we can remove the financial barriers to allow people to pursue what they care about most, what a more engaged society we would have! Perhaps, I should just spend my billion dollars doing that.
This post is inspired by my daughter, who started dancing to the Barenaked Ladie’s “If I had $1000000” in a restaurant bathroom out of pure enjoyment of the music.