“I just want to win the lottery.”

I can’t tell you how many of my smart, talented, highly successful friends have uttered this sentence at the end of an exasperated conversation about where we find ourselves in our careers.  I’m a 34-year-old lawyer.  Most of them are also lawyers; some are in similarly competitive fields.  They have advanced degrees, and have managed to secure prestigious, high-paying jobs in big cities.  They’re good at what they do, and are well loved at their jobs.  Their superiors see the potential for them to rise within the organization.

And yet…

They don’t want to.  They want some or all of the following:  more interesting work day to day, more balance, less erratic working hours, more time to pursue other interests or passion projects, more time with their families, less bureaucracy, more autonomy, a feeling that what they’re doing is contributing to society.

Now, in a lot of ways, we all have won the lottery.  We live in the United States, and in one way or another have managed to get great educations leading to high-paying, relatively stable jobs.  But we still feel unfulfilled and uncertain of the right next step.

And somehow, we think, money is part of the problem.  Whether we want to admit it or not, we are all wearing golden handcuffs.  All of these people think they can’t take a big pay cut (or leave the work force), citing any number of reasons — they are the primary breadwinners in their homes; they still have student loans; they have kids; they have a mortgage; they didn’t go to law school to make $30,000… and various combinations thereof.  If we could win the lottery, we could leave behind this drudgery and do whatever we wanted!

I’m questioning all of these assumptions.  I’m questioning how much money it takes to live a full and happy life, and how long it might take to get there.  Winning the lottery is out of our control, but so much else is not.  On this blog, you can watch me try to take control of my finances, take back my time, and see who else I can bring along for the ride.