The Lottery Test

My WhatsApp status is based on a J. J. Wright quote, and it hasn’t changed in several years: “So much to write, so little time…”

If I won the lottery tomorrow, my life would barely change. I’d shift around some priorities, perhaps allocate time a little differently. But I would have just as many ideas for books and articles in my drafts folder, and I’d be just as eager to write as many of them as I can — just as pressed for time by mortality’s ever-ticking clock as I have ever been.

It’s a good temperature check, this “lottery test,” as we might call it: If a sudden, large influx of extra money, time, and freedom would completely upend your life, you’re not growing the right roots to begin with.

Would you throw away your job like shackles taken off a prisoner after years of confinement? Would you rid yourself of certain relationships you now feel are necessary? Or would you choose the same career but approach it very differently? With a longer-term mindset, perhaps?

If there are big life changes floating through your head, and you’re just waiting for an excuse in order to make them, the bad news is that those excuses aren’t coming. The good news is you don’t need them. You should start making those changes now, and if you do get an avalanche of support, well that’s just the gravy on top of your steak. Not all at once, of course, and not necessarily in a dramatic, vanish-from-the-stage-with-fireworks sort of fashion. But make them you should.

The best prize in life is to wake up every morning, feeling like you’ve already won — and that, ironically, requires very little luck at all.