Winning the lottery isn’t all it’s cut out to be

Why do we all play the lottery when it’s been proven that winning the lottery won’t make us any happier?  Lottery winners are no happier six months after they win the lottery than they were before they one.  Many of them are considerably unhappier.

I wrote a few days ago about how money isn’t evil.  The flip side is also true – money won’t solve all your problems.   I think we play the lottery because we don’t want to go to work everyday and we think we want a new car, maybe a new house and fancier vacations.  The real problem is that we don’t know what we want – we don’t know what would make us happy.  While money is certainly an enabler and I believe having money is a good thing, it won’t help you figure out the purpose of your life.  Money won’t help you figure out what makes you happy.  It won’t tell you how to spend your day. 

The key to happiness isn’t winning the lottery, it’s figuring out what makes you happy.  I guarantee that if you know what makes you happy, what you enjoy doing every day, you can find a way to do that and pay the bills.   But no matter how big the jackpot is, it won’t tell you what to do with the rest of your life.

10 home business ideas that work

For those of you willing to work and still looking for a home business idea, here are ten stories to inspire you.  They all have an online presence and they include:

  1. Making charms for charm bracelets ($2.5 milllion/year)
  2. Putting beads on tank-tops ($1 million/year)
  3. Referral business for home contractors ($100,000/year)
  4. Domain naming service ($25/domain name)
  5. Baby announcement cards
  6. Crocheted underwear (and other stuff)
  7. Editing legal transcripts
  8. Selling balsam from the trees on your land
  9. Selling mannequins
  10. Making cuff links ($500,000/year and still has another job)

There’s links and descriptions of all the sites in the original post.  And then there’s making money by selling ads on your blog:

So what business are you going to start?

The secret to making money from home

I was working from home last week (sitting on the sofa working on my laptop) when the cleaning people showed up.  When they asked where Caleb was I said "at daycare, I’m working."  To which they replied "is that what you are doing!"

I see a lot of websites with lots of traffic all talking about how to make money working from home, blogging or from an internet business.  Do all those readers realize that to work from home you have to work?  Or are they secretly hoping that they’ll make money doing nothing?  The main benefit to working from home is not commuting.  (Yeah!)  And some people think working in your pj’s is a benefit.  But in general, you are working – not playing with the baby, doing laundry or watching tv.  (You can do that stuff but you aren’t working when you are doing it.)  I think all those people interested in working from home are really looking for a job that isn’t any work.

What do you think?  Are you interested in working from home?  If so, why?

What do you want on your tombstone?

What do you want to be remembered by?  James Gray is currently missing at sea and the article in the New York Times (which reads like an obituary!) talks all about what a great researcher he is at Microsoft.  While I’m sure he’d like to be recognized for his work at Microsoft, I’m sure that’s not all he is – the article briefly mentions a wife just to say that she’s the one that called him in missing.

While I’m proud of my career and hope my work is recognized I hope my obituary (and not my missing at sea notice!) recognizes me for more than just that.

If I am missing at sea, I hope the authorities and media are all focused on information to help find me as opposed to my accomplishments in life!

I hope they find James Gray alive and well soon and he can tell us personally what he’s proud of.

Picking lice

Speaking of unusual careers.   This woman picks lice eggs out of (mostly) children’s hair.  She charges $100/hr and it can take her 2-3 hours of painstakingly detailed work to completely remove the eggs from a head of hair. 

In case you are wondering why you can’t just use one of those shampoos … the shampoos kill the adult lice but the eggs remain on the hair and hatch later.

If you like detailed work, the market is wide open!

A Career You Love

Career Change � The Two Career Change Inspirational Quotes of the Day for December 28:

“Never continue in a job you don’t enjoy. If you’re happy in what you’re doing, you’ll like yourself, you’ll have inner peace. And if you have that, along with physical health, you’ll have more success than you could possibly have imagined.”
— Roger Caras

The Joy of Not Working

While I was on maternity leave I decided I really didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life.  Most of my friends work so they weren’t available to do things with in the middle of the day and the few that didn’t work were pretty busy living their lives.  So what was I supposed to do all day? (Actually, I alternated between not knowing what do do and feeling like all I had time to do was run errands.  How do we get all those errands done when we are working full time?) A lot of the things I normally would have done weren’t possible.  For example, I couldn’t work out for the first couple of weeks after giving birth.  I couldn’t go hiking or bike riding with a two week old infant.  So when I stumbled across a book called The Joy of Not Working:  A Book for the Retired, Unemployed and Overworked- 21st Century Edition, I ordered it.  However, by accident I got How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free: Retirement Wisdom That You Won’t Get from Your Financial Advisor.  They both turned out to be pretty interesting.  Since then I’ve bought another copy of the retirment book and lent them to my in-laws and my 89 year old grandmother – at their request!

Ernie Zelinki‘s main point is that most of us don’t know what to do if we aren’t working.  (And to those of you who read my blog who are happily retired, I congratulate you!)  He says we get some of our basic social needs from work:

  1. Organization – What time do you wake up?  What are you supposed to do all day?
  2. Purpose – What’s your purpose in life?  What are you trying to accomplish?
  3. Community – Who do you do things with? 

The books are written in a pretty simplistic style but he has a lot of good points.  He strongly encourages people to get interests outside of work and to not be dependent on work for a sense of community and purpose.  He also gives lots of just basic good life advice like maintain your health, make good friends, etc.  In addition, he provides a few exercises and ideas for doing that.  I agreed with a lot of what he said, like making a few good friends instead of lots of casual friends, not watching tv, and participating in lots of different activities.

He also advocated working for yourself at something you enjoy rather than working for somebody else.  I’ve been listening and reading a lot of self development books and blogs and this seems to be a common theme.  Work for yourself, follow your passions, develop your interests, don’t drone on and on at your desk job.  Ernie as well as many others point out that money and/or retirement will not make you happy by themselves.  You have to have a sense of purpose, a group of friends and a set of activities you enjoy in order to be happy in life.


A good observation from The Happiness Project on how to be more energetic and how it will affect others around you.

Energy (or lack of energy) is contagious. If you feel energetic, you’ll help the people around you feel energetic, too. And that makes them feel happier, too. In fact, studies show that being an energizer was one of the strongest predictors of a positive performance evaluation at work.

I buy that.  Think of the best performers in your office.  They probably get a lot done but they are almost always very energetic as well.

Young people dressing unprofessionally?

The New York Times has an essay about young doctors dressing inappropriately, showing too much skin, wearing casual clothes and in general, not wearing traditional professional doctor attire. When Young Doctors Strut Too Much of Their Stuff – New York Times.  They sited studies that showed that doctors wearing a suit and white lab coat made patients more confident and more likely to confide in their doctors. 

I’d argue that this is a problem that is not unique to doctors.  Walking down the street, I see a lot more skin on young people than I think I used to.  (Or am I just getting old?)  And I see young people at work in the computer industry wearing shirts that show their midriff or sandals that show their toes.  I’m taking massage classes at a professional massage school and the younger students are constantly challenging the dress code.  Personally, I have a hard time understanding why they aren’t willing to wear shirts that cover their tummies (doesn’t massage have a dicey enough reputation without adding to it?) but I can’t argue that they are just dressing the way the rest of their cohort does.

So is our idea of professional attire outdated?  Will the new generation change that definition?  Or will they eventually conform with our norms and start covering up some more skin and wearing suits or business casual or whatever is appropriate for their profession?

Personally, if you told me I’d be more successful dressing a different way because my clients, patients, or customers would trust me more and confide in me, I’d change the way I dressed.  Would you?

What would you do?

What would you do if you were guaranteed a fixed salary but you had to do some job?  Say you’d make a $100K a year but you had to work.  What would you do?  Would you stay at your current job?  Become a teacher?  A tour guide?  CEO of a company?  Or a night watchman so you could read books all night?  Here’s a list of some jobs in NYC: Who Makes How Much – New York’s Salary Guide 2005.

They say that winning the lottery doesn’t make people any happier after the initial rush wears off.  Having money doesn’t mean you’ll be happy.  (Having enough to eat can make you a lot happier than not having enough money for food.  However, once you have the basics, we are all about the same amount of happy whether we have $100 million in the bank or just make $30K a year.)  So if that’s the case, you should work on the things that make you happy like family and friends.  And since we spend 40+ hours a week at work, I figure you should find a job you really like regardless of what it pays.  But that’s not so easy.  If they didn’t pay you, would you go into work at your current job?  If you had to go into work and all things were equal, what would you do?

I have no problem listing jobs I know I wouldn’t like:

  • dentist
  • CEO of a company (although it would depend on the company’s mission)
  • home daycare provider
  • sailboat skipper/chef (imagine having people living in your home 24 hours a day and having to cater to their every wish or deal with any behavior you didn’t like – and no kids or pets!)

And I can list jobs that I know I like:

  • software programmer (but it would have to be on a team that wasn’t always running late and I don’t think those exist)
  • errand/photocopy person (I got to read lots, talk to lots of people and get lots of exercise while getting paid.)
  • public speaker on a topic I like

And then there’s jobs I think sound intriguing for some reason:

  • tour guide – I love going on those guided tours like the history of the French Quarter.  My friends put up with them but I find them fascinating.  Unfortunately we don’t have a French Quarter or unique cemeteries or similar attraction around here.
  • garbage collector – in the summer.  Think of all the exercise and outdoor time you’d get!  (At my last house the garbage collectors were always good looking college kids with great tans.)
  • author/public speaker.  Did you know that Malcolm Gladwell and Thomas Friedman get $30K per speaking engagement!  Malcolm’s only written two books. 
  • med school student.  But I don’t want to be a doctor.  Given the cost of med school, that’s a small problem!
  • Permanent student.  Dad used to joke about this and I used to think it was a terrible idea but I’ve changed my mind.  Plus there’s lots of types of things to study from traditional university classes to karate to med school to massage school to sailing to jewelry making to language school to …  (I am a permanent student by the way – I just wouldn’t mind doing more of that.)

I also know I love talking to people that love their profession or really know what they are talking about.  I recently bought a pair of shoes and the shoe salesman spent time explaining how that company made their shoes, why the style had changed, what was better, why they don’t make blue leather shoes, how to take care of leather, … I found I really enjoyed buying that pair of shoes – a change from my normal ambivalence to shoe shopping. 

So if you could do anything in the world, what would it be?   How much of our decision for a life career is limited by careers we’ve heard of, prestige, money making potential, our friends’ opinions, opportunity, the way the dice fall, who calls us first, …