Imagine you were given a check for $20,000 with these instructions:
Spend this on yourself within the next 18 months after answering three questions.
- What would make you the happiest?
- What do you love to do but haven’t done lately (or in many years)?
- What would make you feel incredibly peaceful and blessed?
Then use these funds to take care of yourself.
Wouldn’t that be incredible?
You might be thinking, “That Nancy is mean! No one is going to give me 20 Grand.”
Hold on a sec. Just dreaming about a gift like this is surprisingly valuable. Besides, this just happened to my best friend Dianne — so it is possible.
Let me explain.
Dianne is having a tough time. She takes care of her husband who has a cognitive illness and needs full time supervision — an enormous job that’s taken a toll on her. Due to stress, Dianne has an awful looking itchy rash that causes her great pain and there is no medical remedy in sight.
Her oldest brother who lives 3,000 miles away is very worried about her. Thinking about how he could help, he came up with an idea to give her respite. He would fund some nurturing for her with money to spend ($20,000 to be exact) with the condition, she spent it on herself. (What a wonderful brother.)
She asked for my help. Since Dianne thinks I am great at brainstorming, I jumped into action. We filled an entire page with ideas and Dianne narrowed it down to her top three favorites.
She picked a trip to Cabo San Lucas, a regular house cleaning — deep cleaning — service, and a series of sessions with a counselor who “get’s it” with caregivers. I now hear lilt in her voice that I haven’t heard in a very long time.
Then guess what I did? I wrote out my own list pretending I’d received a cash gift, too. This is not because I am envious of her gift, I was curious as to what I’d pick if I were in her shoes.
Check or no check, turns out dreaming is a good thing. It stimulates creativity and also helps you tap into your intuition.
When you take off self-imposed limits and start to consider possibilities, your brain fires on all cylinders. It is literally a “brain storm.”
Alex Osborn (generally known as the father of brainstorming) wrote in his classic book, Applied Imagination, the four cornerstones of brainstorming:
Keep criticism away
Let your imagination go wild – the wilder the better
The more the merrier – let the ideas flow
Adding to or improving on the ideas of others works too!
An imaginary gift helps you to get in touch with what you really want since it’s safe to dream. Guess what I found out? Nurturing myself isn’t my best trait anymore.
I absolutely love spa days. After arriving two hours early for my facial or massage, I relax in the sauna and then the steam room. After a cool shower, I dip in the indoor pool and then sink into a lounge chair. Only then when I am truly relaxed, do I get my massage so I can really let go of deep tension in my muscles.
The only thing is, I can’t remember my last visit. It’s been well over two years since I had a relaxation spa day.
Making “My List” reminds me take time for me.
Try it yourself and see what happens:
Just pretend for a moment that you received a $20,000 gift and let your mind wander. Allow yourself think about what nurtures you, what puts a smile on your face and makes you happy.
Here are the guidelines:
· Assume you have financial security and don’t need it to pay off debt or boost your savings.
· You have to spend it on yourself.
· You can use it for experiences not just things.
· The items on your list must nurture you, not be something you “need.” No vacuum cleaners, people!
Sit down with a pencil and your favorite beverage, daydream, and write down the first 10 things that come to mind. Next to your dream, write out a sentence with a little bit of detail.
For example, I would love to go to Nashville and I see myself walking down the street with my husband listening to the sounds of street musicians as were headed to the grand Ole Opry.
Now make those dreams a reality:
Pick one or two to start. Pick something easy and inexpensive to start with. For example, “Sit on my deck in the early morning with a hot cup of coffee in my hand and a throw blanket over my legs. Write in my notebook as the sun comes up.”
If you need to save up for it, like my trip to Nashville, make a plan to do it within 18 months. No check in mail? That doesn’t need to stop you. Don’t let years go by without doing the thing you love (like I did).
Let me help you get started imagining:
See the box at the bottom of this post to download a printable worksheet to write your very own list.
I would love to hear what is on your list! Share an item or two in the comments.
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Free worksheet: MY LIST. If money brings happiness, you need to know what makes you happy first.