Think Again: Mega Millions can lead to mega realizations

The big news in recent weeks isn’t what the aspiring presidential candidates have said on how to turn our economy around.

The U.S. Supreme Courtchallenge to health care reform got a lot of attention, but even that is more for National Public Radio listeners. You might think I’m referring to the latest fashion line that the Kardashians have introduced, but no.

The biggest news was the astounding amount of the Mega Millions lottery jackpot. The jackpot hit $656 million, enough to get anyone dreaming, including me. I have to confess, I bought into the dream, plopping down some hard earned cash for my shot.

At the time, when I was at the cashier, it almost felt like it was time for my fate to reveal itself finally. It’s what I call Phase 1 of this mental journey.

On Facebook I read many posts from people the day of the drawing wishing all their friends a farewell because the following day they would be moving to some Caribbean island with their new wealth. And with all the hype you can’t help but start dreaming. It’s that taste of freedom from the daily grind that gets people going. This is what I call Phase 2, where you start to play out the scenario in your head.

The funny thing is, when the lottery jackpot gets this high, it has an equalizing effect with human emotions. Whether you are someone barely making ends meet or someone making significantly more, both demographics dream of escaping what they consider their daily grind.

Everyone starts daydreaming at work about that imaginary conversation with their boss. Some are heartwarming, while others have more graphic imaginations that involve telling their boss what they really think. This is Phase 3, the beginning of where it feels like it’s real.

Then the daydreaming moves into the peak phase, which involves making decisions of what to buy, who from your family you take along with you in realizing their dreams and being considered a hero for it.

For many, this starts with their parents, where they will pay off the mortgages of their immediate family, fund college tuitions and then buy uncle George a new car so he can dump the junky one he drives that is so old it really seems like a fancy go-kart at this point.

Things start to get frivolous on the tail end of the peak phase when you start dreaming of all the places around the world you’ll own prime vacation property: New York, Hawaii, Paris, Italy, etc.

For some who are financially astute, they may even start thinking about who they will hire to help them manage the millions. Some time also is spent agonizing whether they will do the annual payment plan for the payout or go lump sum.

Right when the dream starts to get a little complicated as you worry about how you will manage the new wealth, which family members or friends to trust for advice, etc., the news comes in that ends it all. You know what I’m talking about, the news that someone from an obscure place called “Red Bud,” Illinois, population 3,700, was one of the winners.

The interesting thing was that I did have one more fantasy in the process. I thought to myself, once I achieved my freedom from the daily grind, I could start doing all the things I wish I had time to do.

But then I realized, in the end, I don’t have to win the lottery to make time for myself. The daily routine can be consuming, but it’s important to take the time to do a thing or two each day that relates to a personal passion, something that is fulfilling in a personal way and interrupts that daily grind.

ZANKU ARMENIAN is a resident of Glendale and a corporate communications and public affairs professional.  He can be reached at

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