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Cheers! Chicago: 2011 Is Here!

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With a resounding cheer and a turn of the clock, we say goodbye to another year. We drink the champagne (or in my case, pour all night long), hug or kiss our loved ones, and celebrate the year ahead. The plate is wiped clean, the table is reset, and the promise of a new beginning arrives. As the New Year dawns upon us, we look towards our symbolic “contract” with ourselves vis-à-vis our “resolutions,” our list of things about our lives we want to improve, strengthen, or change. I have always wondered where this idea came from, who developed and perpetuated this annual tradition of self-reflection, and to what end do we create—  and subsequently live up to— our resolutions. I started thinking about this some more and began to ask myself, do we create realistic resolutions that we can actually see ourselves accomplishing, or do we set the bar so vaguely and outrageously out of reach that we only aspire to but never actually attain? Do we really think that this year is going to be any different than the year before? What would happen to you if something major happened in your life during the New Year, something that would change you forever? Would it change you for the better?

Let me show you a real life example. Recently, the national lottery had its biggest drawing in history totaling $380 million dollars, with the odds statistically stacked against you at 1 in 176,000,000. The very next morning, it was discovered that two tickets emerged as winners, a very rare and interesting outcome to this lottery frenzy. This could not be a sweeter or happier New Year to the two equal share recipients of the lottery winnings. With a happy couple walking away with about $90 million and the other ticket winner still undiscovered, it really got me thinking: what would I have done if I had played and won the lottery? How would it have changed my life, and what exactly would I have done with it? So I decided to test my wits and imagination and put together an impromptu list of the ten things I would do if I had won the lottery. This way, if I actually win a lottery or a large sum of money at one time or another in my life, I’ll be somewhat prepared for it. So, here goes!

1. Donate. Done and done, simple as that. I would probably give up to fifty percent – that’s right, half –  of my winnings to charity and worthy causes.

2. Save. Yep, I would probably stick a good chunk of it in some safe, secure, don’t need to think about it place where it can sit and grow and provide a sturdy “safety net” when things may not go as planned for my family and close relatives. I know, it’s not the craziest or most interesting first two thoughts, but that’s how I think.

3. With whatever money is not saved/invested or donated, I would take a nice, long leave of absence. Probably somewhere warm.

4. Shopping spree. Everything from clothing to shelter to transportation, and I’d let my instincts guide me the entire time.

5. Purchase a professional sports team. In Chicago, but open to other markets.

6. Open a restaurant with my family.

7. Travel all over the world. Probably start or end the trip in Israel.

8. Read and write books.

9. Build a global country club and golf course conglomerate.

10. Invent the next greatest gadget, food product or video game.

And now, I turn the question over to you, reader: what would YOU do if YOU won the lottery? How would it change your life and those around you? How would it change you? Play this game with yourself and others and listen to their responses...you might be surprised.

L’Chaim and Happy 2011!

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