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It's Not About the Money - an If collab

2001-06-26

feeling kinda how a girl feels

this month's collab for If...: If you had all the money you would ever need...and more, what would you do with your life? What would be your motivation to get out of bed everyday?

It's Not About the Money

well, this is a pleasant problem, isn't it? all the money i would ever need... let's see. why would i get out of bed?

off the bat would be easy. there would be the chore of finding a good accountant or three, and setting up the necessary accounts. oh, and probably hiring a good tax lawyer. or maybe just buying the IRS outright.

once all those pesky details are settled, i'd want to get on to the necessary stuff. set up funds for my nieces and nephews, one for my parents, and i suppose one for me. make sure that loans and debts are paid off, insurance is taken care of, college tuition planned - just generally taking care of the family that's looked out for me. (there'd also be contributions to various organizations, but the question isn't really about philanthropy, and anyway, once you give the money, there's nothing there to motivate you, is there?)

then things start to get fun. i'd finally get to indulge in the cars that i want. really, i'd be happy with two - one practical new car for getting around, and a vintage MG to take apart and rebuild. oh, don't blink like that. women like cars too. and i would love to master rebuilding an engine. plus with all that money, i could set up a nice little garage to work on my baby. that would certainly keep me interested and off the streets.

and after that... what would motivate me? honestly, i've never been all that motivated by money. okay, so i like to get paid, and it rots not to have enough. but i've never chosen my work based on the dollars. however, i keep going to work because i know i need to earn. what if the need for a job was suddenly obviated? what if i could walk away from any job situation just because i didn't want to deal with it anymore?

you know, i think i'd still keep working, at least for a while. the satisfaction doesn't come from the money. the reward comes from working through a tough situation, and analyzing it more clearly than the last time, or walking into a personnel minefield and negotiating a good outcome. learning how to think, how to relate, how to manage - that's where the real payoff is in the job. i like to be challenged, and come out wiser than i was before.

but. but i keep the one i have now because of financial constraints. what if i could get all the same challenges somewhere else? where would i go? hrm. well... off the bat, i think i'd go back to non-profits. i worked in that field for a long time, until it became financially untenable. i loved teaching, doing long range planning, setting a goal for the institution and taking it there. sounds vaguely like a corporate wonk's dream. more than that, though, is being able to give back to the community. that's really the point of non-profits for me. perhaps i'd even be able to start up a group or two to help focus on some of my close held concerns.

i think i'd also, selfishly, work on a few personal goals. i've been researching, sporadically, my family geneaology. it would be so wonderful to be able to have the time and the freedom to drive around, digging thru town records, church ledgers, deeds and birth certificates and social pages, finding the rest of my family. and i know we go back at least to Ireland and Scotland... a few trips to the old country, perhaps? there's something deeply satisfying about knowing where you come from, and not just in a geographical sense. and there are bound to be more than a few surprises buried in all those stories.

and man oh man... i could *finally* get that next degreee. i somehow thought that i'd take a year off from college and then go back for at least my master's, if not doctorate. 12 years later, that's a pretty dim and dusty goal, not the least because someone has to keep the cats in kitty kibble. going back to being a starving student just isn't a palatable option right now.

one of the guys who used to work with me had clearly socked away enough money (he was one of the company founders) to let him go play; he collected master's degrees with alarming regularity. and it was great to ask him about the latest one, because his face would light up as he nattered on about architecture or Italian history. i always envied him the freedom to explore. with money to burn? i think i'd indulge myself in much the same way.

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