What If Money Was No Object?

A person stands in a field at sunset, arms outspread in wonder

If Money Was No Object, What Would You Do?

Many of the clients I work with have trouble, at first, identifying what they most want to do in life, work, relationships… Or what they want to create—to bring into being.

So they focus on things they might want, or should want, or maybe want, and fail to build the momentum to follow through to completed results.

Others want two things, and oscillate back and forth between them, with the same non-result.

It’s not easy figuring out what you really want. Questioning yourself and your path can be hard work.

“I beg you, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves … gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.”

~ Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

How Do You Find What You Really Love?

I use a number of exercises that can help stir up their thinking pot and see what emerges. One of the best is called “Questions To Ponder and Muse On.” 

The questions are:

  • What makes me come most fully alive? What most deeply excites me?
  • What was I doing when I was most happy and engaged with life? Work?
  • What am I passionate about doing? About creating? What really matters to me?
  • What gifts do I want to give to the world?
  • Imagine money is no object, and you cannot fail. What do youwant to create?

I tell my clients not to look for absolute answers, but rather to “live the questions,” and look for “good enough (for now) answers.” The true answers, I’ve found, emerge as you create the things you’d love to see in your life, work, relationships…

The key to success, I think, is summed up in Kate Wolf’s lyric, “Find something you really love, and live a life that shows it.”

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Living The Questions

Many years ago, I was a new school teacher, struggling with “the system,” and wondering about what I was doing and why?

At Christmas, I attended a conference of “free school” teachers and students. It was a wild (almost chaotic) experience for me. It broke most of the rules that were so rigidly adhered to in public schools.

The conference opened my eyes to other ways of teaching and interacting with students—working with the learners, not on them. It also led to new ways of encouraging learning rather than merely teaching school (i.e. the system of schooling).

One of the biggest impacts at the conference came when I watched a 4-hour interview, or rather a dialogue, between the Canadian TV journalist Patrick Watson and a philsopher named Alan Watts.

Watts’ approach to life, work, relationship, the earth, society … just about everything was fascinating and challenging—especially to a young teacher questioning whether he was on the right life and work path.

One thing that struck a deep chord in my soul was Watt’s question, “What if money was no object? What then would you do?”

Practicing What I Preach

I didn’t have an answer right away, but over the next few years, I kept asking myself that question. And experimenting with answers.

I quit teaching school, and went to work for the Rocky Mountain Y, near Banff, AB. I lived simply in a tiny, cedar cabin, and spent my days roaming the Bow Valley—developing an environmental education program for the Y’s new outdoor centre. I loved it.

That experience led to new challenges—Leadership Camp Director, Environmental Design grad student, experience-based environmental education trainer, faculty member of the Banff School of the Environment—and new questions.

By living simply, and not needing great sums of money, I’d increased my range of freedom and possibilities. All the experiences listed above involved helping learners learn in new and diverse ways. Gradually, I realized, if money was no object, I would be a freelance teacher.

As a freelance educator, I could develop my own learning environments, and offer them to learners. So I did. I started and ran Earthways: Experiences In Personal And Environmental Exploration, a 3-week wilderness camp for teens. I took a failing Mountain Leadership school, and turned it into one of the best in North America. I developed a Wilderness Retreat program for executive teams.

I also worked with single moms seeking to improve their skills and confidence, ex-cons re-entering society, government departments and organizations, and businesses seeking to succeed in ways that harmonized with the environment. 

Finally, I narrowed my focus to helping individuals create the future they most want—with whatever they have to start with. I wrote Simplicity and Success: Creating The Life You Long For. I started a personal Life Design coaching practice. I learned to write well to support my work, and writing became my passion; my greatest source of fulfilment and satisfaction. I found something I really loved, and strived to live a life that shows it.

So, how about you? 

What Do You Most Want To Do? Or create?

How would you answer the questions above? 

What would you do or create if money was no object, and you couldn’t fail?

To help you think about and work your way toward answers that ring true for you, here’s 3 minutes of Alan Watts talking about “What if money were no object?” Enjoy!