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posted: 12/26/2013 1:59 PM

What I'll do when I win the lottery

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I don't pay a lot of attention to the whole lottery thing.

I have to admit, though, that when the payout gets up in the hundreds of millions of dollars I find myself day dreaming about what it would be like to have that kind of money.

Not too long ago one of the radio stations I listen to was doing a series of brief interviews with people around what they would do if they won the lottery.

The answers were predictable: "I'd pay off my debts." "I'd take a trip around the world." "I'd buy a new car."

Some answers were more selfless: "I'd pay my mother's house off." "I'd give to my church." "Each of my kids would get a million." And, of course, the ever popular "I'd quit my job."

As I was on my way to work when I heard all this, I started thinking in particular about my own job. Would I quit?

I actually like what I do. I like the people I work with. And, at the end of the day, I usually feel like I've done something worth doing.

So would I give all that up? I guess not. Sure, I would like to work less. I'd probably do that; but, bottom line, I really do need to feel like I am doing something worthwhile. Even if I wind up volunteering my time, I'd still likely keep doing what I'm doing.

That's not as unusual as it might sound. Almost all the research done on what makes people satisfied with their lives comes back to three things: meaningful work, meaningful relationships, and some sort of faith which gives them direction and support. There are certainly other things that make a difference, but those three seem to be the pillars of a life worth living.

From what I've read over the years, most lottery winners do quit their jobs. And, I suspect, a lot of the jobs they quit did not give them much of a sense of satisfaction, a sense of doing something worth doing.

I'll bet, though, that the lottery winners who went on to live lives they felt good about wound up doing some sort of work that was meaningful to them. At the end of the day, they knew the world was a better place because they were in it.

On the other hand, the lottery winners whose lives became focused on just having good times and good things were likely pretty miserable.

There is a lesson here for those of us who don't win the lottery (which, considering the odds is just about all of us). If our work is not meaningful, if we can't find something worthwhile in what we are doing, then we are missing out on one of the most important things in life.

Whether we are a hotel clerk or a bank vice president, a carpenter or a housewife, or whatever, the work we do makes a big difference in the satisfaction we feel.

And, if I win the lottery? Well, I guess, first off, buying a ticket would help.

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