10:28am.

The sun was pouring in from my balcony and it stirred me awake. A little later than I prefer, but I had been up late chatting with friends the night before. I didn’t rush when I woke up.

I ran myself a deep, steaming bubble bath and I soaked and sheet masked and meditated. That morning's listening: Our Words Create Our Worlds. Then, I called room service and ordered a bowl of yogurt with honey and fresh fruit and a pot of English breakfast tea and milk. While I waited, I lathered up in body creme, and slipped on a comfortable sundress.

11:10.

I ate my breakfast out on the balcony and took a few moments to stare at the sea. I was so lost in the view, I didn’t even notice that housekeeping slipped in to tidy up.

12:00.

I opened up my laptop for a bit of writing. I wrote, still on the balcony, until about 2:30.

2:35.

I charged my laptop and skipped downstairs for a salad in the outdoor lounge. I ate it while listening to music. “Summer” came on. Were Beyonce and Jay-Z in the Greek Islands when they wrote this? It was the perfect song for the mood.

3:05.

I walked into town with my journal, iPad and headphones and enjoyed the slow, leisurely stroll around the coast of the island. Eventually, I stretched out on a bench by the harbor and watched the boats.

4:45.

I enjoyed a cappuccino with cinnamon at a seaside cafe. This was my first time at this cafe and it was the best cappuccino I’ve had on the island. The Greeks like their coffee strong. I do not. I took a picture of the menu so I could remember the name of the restaurant.

5:30.

I swam. Laid on the beach. Swam more. Laid some more.

I headed back to my hotel for dinner: whatever the day’s fresh catch was (calamari) and a side salad. After dinner, I went back to writing, made updates to my website, got some reading done (Anatomy of the Spirit), talked to a few friends and checked-in with a client over email. I planned next week’s excursions to Santorini and Mykonos and browsed AirBnB to see what destinations look good for May. Despite the late-day espresso, I was fast asleep by midnight.

This is how I spent this past Tuesday.

I’m not on vacation. I’m not on sabbatical.

This is my daily life and there is no end in sight.

The Lottery Test is the ultimate measure of aligning finances, fulfillment, and freedom. If money was no factor - if you won the lottery for $100 million dollars and the money was in your account by the end of the week - how would you spend your time? What would you do if you did not need to earn to live? What hobbies would you pursue? What art would you create? Where would you travel?

I don’t have $100 million or anything even remotely close to that. I’m not financially independent yet. But my lifestyle passes the Lottery Test. I live and spend time in places that I would go if money were no factor: like last month’s impromptu trip to Paris and this month’s foray through the Greek Islands.

I spend my time working on projects that I would work on if money were irrelevant - Dream projects, totally self-designed and driven by my own personal interests and passions. That day's writing? A course I’m developing for Better Living with Design.

I don’t own many things. I travel with two suitcases and an overly generous interpretation of an airplane “personal item” that holds my laptop, iPad, journals, and art supplies. And thats fine. I prefer having few things. The time that I don’t have to spend maintaining things - washing, folding, dusting, cleaning, polishing - is time that I use for things that I love. When I feel that very human compulsion to buy things, I either buy art (to give to friends and family), clothes (to be swapped out for an existing item - so choose wisely), or earrings because they make beautiful but tiny souvenirs.

Every quarter, I pick a hobby or interest to try out. Last quarter, I learned functional Portuguese and studied art history as reflected through the architecture in the city of Oporto - plus spending time studying at the Louvre.

This quarter, I’m splitting my time between Greek and brushing up on my rusty French and Italian. My learning focus has been advanced forms of bodywork and healing practices, like acupressure and medical qi-gong. I'm also finishing up certifications in different therapies and data science.

Next quarter? Who knows. Maybe photography so I can begin shooting for INSPIRE media and Mandarin to prepare for my upcoming move to China.

But this sense of childlike curiosity, wonder, fulfillment and freedom is priceless. This feeling is why the first thing that I ask clients when we’re developing their financial independence plan is: how do you want to spend your time?

By planning with the end in mind, you begin to reap the benefits of financial independence (or FI) without being FI. You can take actions and start doing things that you would do if you were FI - thereby receiving the biggest perks and benefits: the sense of fulfillment and freedom to explore.

In 2017, I was planning to keep climbing the corporate ladder for another 5 years to hit My Number. When asking myself: “what will I do when I get there?” I began to see how easy it was to incorporate elements of my ideal future lifestyle into my current one.

Building a business.
Writing books.
Traveling.
Teaching.
Learning and growing.

I didn’t have to wait until I was financially independent to do those things. And in fact, I shouldn’t wait because tomorrow isn’t promised.

And although I’m still tracking to a number, I have a deep sense of peace. The number doesn’t drive me because I know my life won’t change dramatically (if at all) when I hit it. With more money, I would just throw more money and resources at my existing projects. No dramatic lifestyle changes. I have everything I need.
So, ask yourself: what would you do if money were no factor?
Would you start a charity?
Travel to new places?
Write the next great American novel?

Now: How can you take the first step towards doing at least one those things today?
 

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