“Be Careful What You Wish For” is a common theme in fairy tales and children’s books. (Not to mention classic films, like “It’s a Wonderful Life”.) We want to teach society at a very young age the lesson of seeing the truth in what we value. The problem is, the more we get distracted with other people’s beliefs, the more we disregard this lesson. Writers, actors, directors, and musicians wish for experiences that (we are told) will prove to the world we are “successful and respected”.
After Christmas dinner, my cousin and I were talking about the Action Groups I facilitate. Trying to be funny, he said, “Can I come? I wanna make a million dollars!” Most people believe that becoming a millionaire is impossible, meant only for those with privileged lives or luck. I wonder where this belief came from, and why we insist that it is true? I decided to welcome his “wish”, and began to lay the groundwork around renewing his mindset. He started to see how anything could be a legitimate goal and not just a joke.
Before dinner, he talked about his job with very little energy. He didn’t seem to like it much, he commuted 100 miles each way, and he was counting down the days until his retirement. No wonder having a millions dollars seemed a good solution. (The truth is, he likes to spend his money faster than he can earn it.) I wondered what he really longed for since the money would just evaporate anyway. I believe he longed for what the million dollars symbolized: security, freedom, and fun.
Later on we discussed the logistics of me visiting him for a weekend, meeting his friends, and hanging out. He said, “As we get older, our friends change, but it becomes more important to spend time with family.” Here it was. This is what he really valued, and he wanted me to share it with him: a weekend of security (in familial bonds), freedom (from workaday drudgery), and fun. There was no need for intense financial planning or years of sacrifice to make a million dollars if he could get what he valued right here, right now.