I will openly admit I have played the lottery many times. Sometimes the lottery tickets yield a $2 win, but most often, it’s a loss. I don’t play the lottery regularly, but there are occasions like billion-dollar jackpots when I opt to buy a ticket and skip my cup of coffee.
Let me get this out of the way.
The chance of winning the lottery is significantly lower than drowning in water and getting hit by lightning at the same time. The odds of winning the Powerball is 1 in 292 million, and with Mega Millions, it’s 1 in 252 million.
We all know this. We also know that someone will eventually win. And you have to be in it to win it.
A dollar and a dream!
Isn’t that the promise of the lottery? But why do we still choose to play?
It’s a game where a piece of paper carries your hopes and dreams and represents your thoughts and feelings.
I’ve never been against anyone playing the lottery. I do warn people the lottery isn’t their retirement fund. The lottery is not a good reason to skip retirement planning.
There’s a lesson about the lottery I want to share with you.
During some financial workshops, I might hand out scratch-off tickets. In a group of 40 people, I once gave $1 scratch-off tickets. Not to anyone’s surprise, there was no winner. The cost to me was $40, but the lesson was invaluable.
What was the lesson behind the exercise?
The Emotions Behind Playing and Winning the Lottery
I want to focus this article on helping you understand your motivation and reasoning for playing and dreaming of winning the lottery.
What are your reasons? What are your “whys?”
I know why I play the lottery. I don’t expect to win, but it reminds me of the importance of my dreams. Every time I’ve played the lottery, my life’s vision gets into focus. These lottery tickets are little vision boards with numbers, words, and barcodes.
In one financial session I held, I asked a group of 12 if any had a lottery ticket in their wallets or purses. Five attendees raised their hands. I requested they hold onto the lottery ticket and close their eyes. I wanted them to envision the life they would be living if that ticket had won.
One by one, each ticket holder shared their hopes and dreams. Surely enough, each vision was unique to the person. The exercise revealed a common thread, however, that people have dreams about living their best life.
With each person holding their lottery ticket, I went through how to achieve their dream without a lottery win.
Of course, some people had outlandish ideas. Some wanted to buy each family member or friends’ new cars and homes or pay off their debt.
And almost all wanted to help their loved ones and share their luck by giving to others. We know that enjoying life and living better are found in the little things and the moments we share with loved ones.
Envision your actual dreams not fantasies
The lottery enables you to think of big, bold ideas, but you’re more apt to make irrational money decisions without the right mindset. It would help if you had time to gather your thoughts and control your emotions. Most financial experts agree that you need a break for a few days or weeks after winning the lottery.
Have you wondered why many lottery winners lose their millions in a short period?
The lottery win isn’t going to change your money mindset and won’t improve your financial behaviors.
Chances are you’re going to spend mindlessly because of your relationship with money. You’re going to experience lifestyle creep, and you might even try to keep up with a new set of Joneses.
Remember the days you made minimum wage (and barely getting by), and you hoped to make double that salary one day. You might have even said you’d save more, pay off debt, and live more.
What happened when you moved from $30,000 to $50,000 a year?
You probably didn’t save or pay off debt if you are anything like most people or me.
Be aware of how your money beliefs impact your dreams. The first step in realizing your dreams is an awareness of your mindset. Awareness is a crucial step in the process of shifting your limiting beliefs to that of abundance.
Financial freedom is something you work towards
The problem with playing the lottery is that it supports the unhealthy money mindset. It reinforces a belief that financial freedom can be bought and based purely on luck. But self-made millionaires know best that financial freedom begins with attitude.
You may have heard the coffee example of how little expenses add up. That example is similar to lottery spending. Suppose you spend $10 per week on lottery tickets, $520 a year, and $5,200 in 10 years before earning interest. Instead, imagine investing that $10 each week; you could grow that money to nearly $10,000.
Now, some money experts will wave their fingers and tell you no to lotteries. But I won’t chastise you. In my view, playing the lottery is similar to spending money on any other discretionary item.
Do you have the money? Are you okay with spending on a lottery ticket than a movie ticket? Your money and your choice to spend it.
And I’m also not going to fight our culture surrounding the lottery. I do, however, want to shift your mindset and spark a different type of conversation around your hopes and dreams.
When you play the lottery and hold that losing ticket in your hand, please close your eyes and envision that dream lifestyle. I, then, want you to write them down. Ask yourself why these things are important to you? Cross off things that are fantasies. Circle the dreams that genuinely resonate with you.
You’ve now begun the work of creating your very first vision statement for your life—a mighty step on the road to financial wellness.
And with wellness, I want to emphasize the importance of mental wellbeing. Gambling can be addictive to some and destroy lives. If you believe you may need help, I recommend you read how to play responsibly.
Have you played the lottery recently? What are your dreams? Comment below.