One Easy Exercise to Help Stop Seeking Money as a Means to an End and Focus on Your True Passions

Do what you love and the money will follow.

-Dr. Marsha Sinetar, author of Do what you love and the money will follow

We’ve all heard it and are sick of hearing it. One of the overused quotes that’s been touted over and over again by law of attraction fans since the new age boom. Or so is our image.

But I think there is truth to the quote if applied in a practical way. Let me explain.

The problem with how we frame money in our lives

We humans tend to look at money way as an end goal, rather than a means to achieving a goal. We think that getting money is what makes us happy, rather than the wonderful things that we can do with that money.

The sad consequence of this truth is that rather than using the creative and resourceful tool of our minds for maximizing the achievement of the things we want in life, we focus too much on “how can I get more money?” when we should really be asking “what do I really want in life?”

The act of merely receiving money doesn’t actually bring more happiness — except for the game of getting money itself (which can be quite fun, but can eventually burn us out if it doesn’t come with a deeper context of living our lives in a fulfilling way).

This is why I love Tim Ferriss’s Dreamline exercise. The Dreamline exercise is a quick activity to first decide all the things you want/goals you want to achieve in the short term, then determine how much money it will take to achieve them. Once you know what you want and how much it will cost, you can come up with a specific plan for getting the money needed to achieve those goals.

But many of us have it backwards. We think, “after I make X amount of money, THEN I will be able to travel“(replace travel with that thing(s) you want to do but are putting off doing). But the time, energy, and money never come because we waste our creative energy on figuring out how to make money, rather than utilizing our creative energy to do the thing we want (like travel, learn a new hobby, etc.).

Valuing your life over money does not mean living like a monk!

Lately, we read “if you want to be successful, sell your stuff! Move to a smaller, cheaper apartment! Live frugally!”

While I do believe minimizing distractions and streamlining your life is important, I don’t agree with the asceticism that people sometimes equate with personal development. For some people, minimizing money spent on possessions allows them to spend that money on other things they value more, like travel for instance. Others, might value owning a nice car or owning a nice house, more than they value traveling. For those people, getting rid of those things or avoiding pursuing them would actually hurt them, as they would be resisting what it is they truly want.

I think most people value a balance of material possessions and world experiences. I’m currently saving up for a new car,  AND getting ready to challenge my fears and go skydiving for the first time!

Find out what YOU want, and go for it.

An Exercise to Put Your Career and Earnings into Perspective

Sit down with a pen and a pad (or an open word processor if that’s your dealio). At the top, write “What Would I do if I already had all the money I needed? How Would I live my day to day life? ” Alternatively, you could write “How would I spend a billion dollars?” Don’t worry about calculating prices at this point. The point of the exercise is to figure out what things you would do in your life if you already had all the money you could ever want.

It’s a very simple exercise. From here, list out everything that comes to your mind. Just move your pen and don’t stop writing no matter how silly the ideas that come out might sound. As your thoughts flow, and you get those “silly ideas” out of the way, strong insights about what you really want to do, begin to pour out. I like to set a timer (10, 15, or 20 minutes) just to give the activity a concrete beginning and finish.

When you’re finished, go back through the list and read all of your ideas. You can then go through with a pen and circle or star all the best ideas.

What would I do if I had all the money I ever needed? And how would I live my day to day life?/How would I spend a billion dollars?

  • Eat all organic whole foods, every day.
  • Go skydiving.
  • Travel to Italy.
  • Buy a convertible.
  • Travel to Guam.
  • Learn Chinese
  • Learn a martial art like Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
  • Fly a plane.
  • Lie on a hammock in the Maldives.
  • Perform a solo guitar concert in front of 100 people.
  • Take first in a breakdance competition.
  • Learn how to corkscrew.
  • Eat fugu (blowfish).
  • DJ at a beach party
  • Go to France.
  • Learn how to cook 10 kinds of pasta.
  • By a motorcycle.
  • Release 25 videos on my YouTube channel.
  • Write 50 blog articles.
  • Live in South America for one year.
This is a quick sample exercise to help give you an idea of what I’m talking about. For visibility purposes, I went back and highlighted all the ideas that I really liked want to do (rather than adding a star or check as mentioned in the article).  Note this list is probably much shorter than the list you will actually make, as you will be continuously writing for a set amount of time like ten or twenty minutes.

This tool is a basic awareness exercise help you become aware of what it is you truly want. There are a few options for what you can do with those realizations after this exercise. Most of these exercises really deserve their own separate articles to explain explain them in full. But I will briefly describe the ideas here in order to give you a direction.

Once you are aware of what you would do/how you would live your life if you had a billion dollars

You need to integrate those desires into your life in way that you’ll stay focused on them every moment of the day, regardless of your moods or circumstances. You need to make sure you never forget what you are working toward.

The Dreamline

If you haven’t read The 4 Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss yet, I highly recommend you read it. It was the book that finally opened my eyes to the concept that you don’t need to be rich to live your dreams, you just need to first focus on what you want to do in life and then you can figure how much money you need to fulfill that.

After having done the exercise outlined in the article you are reading now, you can use those ideas to create your own Dreamline. For more information on exactly how to do the Dreamline exercise, check out this page on Tim Ferriss’s blog (or read The 4 Hour Work Week for a more in-depth explanation). He also offers this nifty blank Dreamline template here.

Basically, you are taking your ideas you gathered from doing the activity in this current article and are forming them into concrete goals with a time frame. Then you determine the required amount of money to do accomplish these goals. Also by making a concrete goal, you are picking the thing you want to do the most (the thing you want to work on right away) and making it a top priority in your life.

For example: “What would I do if you had a billion dollars?” If one of your items was “Go skydiving,” then this would be on your Dreamline:

Go skydiving….. by August 2016…… $400.

By getting really specific about what it is you want, how much it costs to do it and when you will do it, your brain will figure out what you need to do to come up with that money. Also you will feel the drive to make that money so that you can achieve that goal.

Another purpose of the Dreamline is to turn your more general goals into refined concrete ones. So if you want to “live an adventurous life,” the Dreamline then helps you break that down into a concrete goal, which can then be achieved by doable actions. What does “live an adventurous life mean?” Maybe you want to skydive like me. Maybe you want to travel to Africa. Whatever it is, make it into a specific, actionable goal.

The Vision Board

I’m a big fan of the Vision Board, also known as a Goal Board. It is a large (usually made of cork) board that you hang in the place in your house where you spend the most time every day. On this board you display your goals in a combination of words and pictures. It’s a powerful way to constantly be reminded every day of what you want. And keeps you focused.

Once you have your list of things that you would do with one billion dollars, go ahead and load up your Vision Board with those things! You can print out a list of those things and pin it up there. Also, pictures plant themselves deep inside your brain. For example, if your goal is to go skydiving, pin up a picture of a skydiver! If you want to play cello, pin up a picture of a cello! The powerful impact the pictures have on our physiology will keep us focused and motivated.

Pick one thing you want to do and expand it in your journal

Once you have came up with a list of things you would like to do with a billion dollars, a great exercise is to pick one and expand it! Free-write about it. Ask yourself and answer these questions: Why do I want this? What will I feel when I achieve it? What will I feel if I don’t achieve it? How will I achieve it?

These are just the questions I ask myself. Feel free to explore your own questions, or your own method of journaling.


I don’t subscribe to any faith. But I use “prayer” as a means of setting my intentions of what I want to work toward every day. I will explain this in detail in a future post, but every night before bed (you could do it in the morning, or both) I tell “God” or “the Universe” exactly what it is that I want. My exact goals. And I ask for the focus and strength to tackle them.
I think prayer works because It allows us to cut through all of our negative beliefs about what is possible, and focus on exactly what we want. And when we ask ourselves what we want and think about it enough (no matter how large or far away the goal may seem), our brains begin to determine what actions we need to take to achieve them. Prayer in this way changes our own psychology and beliefs about what is possible, and gives us a good attitude for achieving our desired goals.

In short, “pray” or ask the universe for what you want. Even if you aren’t religious (I’m not) and even if you think it’s a stupid idea and won’t work (I did, but am continuously surprised when I keep achieving things that I once thought were impossible for me).

Give it a try. The worst thing you could do is be closed-minded to something that would otherwise serve as a powerful tool to helping you achieve the life you want.

Of course like all advice, take these exercises/tools with a huge grain of salt. Try out many things and drop what isn’t useful for you.

So that’s it for today. Don’t focus so much on how to make money. Rather, focus on how to do the things you want to do in life (money is only one component of the “how”). If you do so, you will more efficiently use your resources to come up with the money you need, in order to do the things you want. And asking yourself “What would I do if I had a billion dollars?” is one exercise you can do to figure out what you want, and put life and money in perspective.

This simple paradigm shift could change your entire way of looking at life.

So what are you waiting for? Let’s get started now.


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