Dollar signs and dreams

“It’s not dollar signs that are standing in the way of what you want in life”

That wonderful quote, courtesy of Adelaide Lancaster, has been staring out at me from the back cover of my book. It’s quite a thought. Indeed, I wish I’d thought of it, but I will take it as a blurb. For the past year, I’ve been pondering the question of what I’d do with all the money in the world. What would I change about my life? I’ve realized that the things I’d change about my personal life have little to do with money. For instance, I’ve been frustrated lately that my husband and I have found it difficult to do “date night.” He’s been traveling a lot, which means that weekends are best. But we’re new in town, and don’t have a deep reserve of sitters, and getting a sitter on a Saturday night is always hard. So we haven’t done much. But this isn’t a financial problem. We could pay a premium for Saturday night. One of us could spend a few hours of time interviewing babysitters and build up a roster of those with weekend availability. In a few weeks, and with a modest outlay of cash, I’d have solved a major problem in my life.

Guess I better get on that.

My personal life, however, is one thing. There are broader issues within (as Stephen Covey calls it) my Circle of Concern. I am, for instance, mildly concerned that I’m not sure there is anyone I really want to vote for in the presidential race this year. Is there anything I can do to bring about a world where there are lots of good people running for office? That’s obviously tougher than finding a Saturday night babysitter. But I’m inspired by groups such as EMILY’s List, even if my politics are totally different. Putting early money into candidates, or into programs that find and train people in how to run for office, seems like a way to expand my Circle of Influence. How much influence could I have? I don’t know, but since you can only give a limited amount to candidates anyway, this is not out of the realm of possibility either.

Another desire: to increase the number of people who read. I was interviewing a publishing executive the other day for a story when he made a point that I should know from looking at the sales figures for “runaway” bestsellers: namely, that most people don’t read. There are 300 million people in this country. If a book sells 100,000 copies, people are pretty darn excited about that fact. If every American bought a book — or one more book if they’re already book buyers — that would massively expand the book market. I really like the concept of books as a way to convey ideas, so I’d love to find ways to introduce more people to such joys. How much would that cost? I have no idea, but probably there are ways that earthbound amounts of money can be used strategically to help bring that about. Something to think through.

Are dollar signs standing in the way of particular things in your life?

(photo courtesy flickr user The Tire Zoo)

3 thoughts on “Dollar signs and dreams

  1. I also struggle with this issue of feeling that even though I live in a democracy my government doesn’t speak for me or address most of what I care about, as a woman, as a small business owner, as a mom, just in general ! Glad to hear you are thinking on this too!

  2. Haven’t read Covey in a long time, thanks for the Circle of Influence concept. I get so frustrated when I can’t seem to effect change nearby… in my daughters’ schools over the past 10 years, in my church… that I feel powerless to effect the big things like gov’t representation. I need to think on where I might influence gov’t. One thing I did do: when our community refused (again) to increase the mill levy for schools my husband and I donated the equivalent of the tax increase to the electives & extra curriculars my kids participate in : robotics, band, choir.

    1. @DMZ – sounds like a good move to put your money toward things you value. We can do that, even when we can’t do other things.

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