I’m Broke but I’m Happy, I’m Poor but I’m Kind

Incredibly interesting article from Steve Pavlina last week.

When I was broke and deep in debt and about to declare bankruptcy, I asked myself what I’d want to do with my life if I knew for certain that I’d always be broke.

Isn’t that an AMAZING question? Because the question is not, “What would you do with unlimited riches?” but, “What would you do with your time if you knew your striving for money was pointless?”

What a fascinating idea.

Broke but Happy

That would change everything, wouldn’t it?

Once you became aware that you would never scrape together enough money to matter, you would quickly put all the things you’d want to spend your money on out of your mind and put your attention to what you’d want to spend your time on.

I’ve been around long enough to know that it’s not so much what you get, but what you do with what you get.

So as much as I like to learn, and if I gave up all hope of ever earning more than minimum wage, ever, I would probably read a bit more. But, I would also make sure I did something with it. Test that knowledge, or teach it. Write a book on it or something.

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Because I know learning alone won’t fulfill me. I’ve got to do something with it. Even experience alone isn’t enough — I love to tell a good story as much as the next person, but if I can’t take something away from that experience and use it to enrich someone else, well — doesn’t seem to be much point in jumping out of airplanes and touring the Amazon.

Here’s what I suggest. Write down a little vision statement for yourself, perhaps a few sentences or a paragraph about how you’d choose to live if all of your expenses were covered.

I’m going to write more. I’m going to teach more. Using this metric, all the mentoring in forums I’ve been doing seems less like a waste of time and more like answering an unconscious calling. I’m going to take my eye off the long-game of financial security long enough to make sure what I’m doing in the present moment is exactly what I’d do with the rest of my life.

So tell me, my precious ones:

What would YOU do if you knew for sure you would always be broke?

13 thoughts on “I’m Broke but I’m Happy, I’m Poor but I’m Kind”

  1. Great exercise. I was surprised to realize that what I’d do is what I’m doing, because I realized long ago that the path I’ve chosen doesn’t lead to money.
    Love to hear what others discover from the question.

    1.  @spinhead Ah!Ah!Ah! Joel ~ “Use Your Words Wisely” here ~ Please don’t put handcuffs on the Universe by denying even the *possibility* of your chosen path leading to money… If you add the one-little-word *usually* to that sentence, you leave the door open for the most pleasant surprises, my friend!

      1.  @Karen J 
        I think I’m just accepting that if money arrives, it does it on its own, not because of the work I do or the direction I’m headed. In an artist’s life, money is more serendipity than logical conclusion; I mean, money beyond paying the bills.

        1.  @spinhead @Joel ~ I owe you an apology for being rather thoughtless in *my* choice of approach! I’ve seen many people, just lately (imagine that!), who also don’t believe that even the particular words they use (by conscious choice or default), make a difference in the results that come their way. I could have been more gentle and offering, instead of scolding! I am sorry.

        2.  @Karen J  @JoelNot even an issue, Karen. Your intention is always to help, and that’s how I take anything you ever say, to me or anyone else.

        3.  @spinhead  @Joel Thank you!
          That was also *me talking to myself* – making a note-out-loud to be more mindful of ‘where the other guy’s coming from’! 😉

        1.  @Shanna Mann Really, I’ve been pondering this, Shanna – not ignoring you!
          ~ I don’t think I’d have to make a whole lotta changes, except ‘get a move on’ with turning my “clutter into cash”, and probably relocate to lower-fixed-cost digs.
          Feel free to noodge me about the first one, anybody – although the mere existence of TheNewDude *is* helpful, in many ways! 😉

  2. SteveBainesBiz

    Just Wonderful Shanna! What a great exercise.  As a Business Advisor, one of the first things I do with my clients is help them figure out their personal mission statement.  One of the questions I use is similar to this one. All too often people spend so much time and effort focused on accumulating money, they don’t get to appreciate the hear and now.

    1.  @SteveBainesBiz Steve, I wish I could take credit for it! I just love these intriguing questions. You’re right, most people buy right into “I just need to make lots of money, and then I be able to have anything I want.” mindset. There’s a better way!

  3. Really interesting thought.
    I can’t believe in that as a possibility for myself or for anyone else, but I’ll try…
    My life would become “simpler”: no TV, smartphone, 10 email addresses, etc. If I wouldn’t have a computer or access to one, my life would be very different; different business model at least…

    1. @petersandeen
      Yeah, Peter, it’s kind of a weird question, right? Like, obviously, you’re not going to stop trying to better your economic lot. But I thought it got around the big drawback of the question, “What would you do if money wasn’t an issue?” The answer usually has at least some focus on issues of consumption: I’d buy a house, I’d buy a farm, I’d travel, I’d indulge in fine foods and wines– there’s much less focus on issues of creation or legacy. This question, however counter-intuitive, gets around all that in into the meat of the issue.

  4. I dis agree, This is what you actually should say: I’m broke to I tell my self that I’m happy, I’m poor because I’m kind!

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