What would you do if you didn’t have to earn money?

I was chatting to someone yesterday about work, and they asked me an interesting question.

“What would you do,” they said, “if you didn’t need to earn money?”

I thought about it for a few seconds, and started to answer.

“Oh, I don’t know,” I began, and then I corrected myself, because I totally do know. A few months ago I did an exercise where you write to a friend. It’s five years in the future, and you write as though you haven’t seen the friend in all that time. You write with no boundaries at all, describing your life, filling them in on everything that has happened since you last saw them. The key is that nothing is impossible. If you want to tell them you’ve been to the moon, then you can, there are no limits, it’s your dream life. Money is no object.

“I would spend quite a lot of time on a squishy sun lounger,” I told them, “or possibly a hammock, sipping cocktails and reading books. I would travel more, but in luxury.”

hammock on the beach

“Oooh yes,” they agreed, “that would be nice. I could handle that. No tent nonsense right?”

“I definitely would NOT have a back pack,” I confirmed.

“The reading would be partly for research though,” I continued, “as behind my sun lounger I would have a beautiful wooden hut, where I would write my successful series of novels. From the front of the hut you’d be able to walk down onto the beach and at the back, there would be a forest, full of tropical fruits and the cries of exotic birds. Sometimes I would travel somewhere to give a reading, and everyone would laugh and cry in equal measure, and go away feeling like their perspective on life had shifted just a little bit.”

I’m picturing it now as I think about it.

I would live in my hut happily with my new husband. (My children would be off on their own by now, living wonderful lives of course.) I don’t think we would have the internet, or even mobile phones, just a land line perhaps for emergencies. When the evenings got chilly we’d go inside and put extra wood in the stove and watch reruns of classic comedies on the old TV we kept in the corner, sat under a fluffy blanket, eating a big bowl of fruit we’d collected from the forest and drinking wine we’d made ourselves from some sort of amazing, as yet undiscovered, forest berry.

At night we’d sleep with big doors open to the sound of the sea and the trees and every morning we would wake up and stretch and smile and feel happy to be alive.

That’s all.

What would you write in your letter from the future?

Image credit – hammock from Dudarev Mikhail/shutterstock



  1. 6 July, 2015 / 11:23 am

    Ohh this a great question! I have been reading about the power of visualisation recently and this is very much along those lines. I am looking forward to reading your novels in 5 years time xxx

    • Jo Middleton
      7 July, 2015 / 1:35 pm

      Yes, it’s exactly the same kind of thing – it’s so powerful to create that image in your mind, whether through visualisation or through story telling.

  2. 6 July, 2015 / 11:28 am

    I often daydream about this :p. If money was limitless i would.
    *Design my own home
    *Buy a home for my son, niece and nephew
    *visit iceland!!
    * visit every state in America
    *learn as many skills as possible….photography, sailing, cooking!
    Hopefully live out my life worry free :)

    • Jo Middleton
      7 July, 2015 / 1:35 pm

      All excellent ideas! I was reading in fact about Iceland’s ring road recently and would LOVE to do a road trip – you can drive around the whole thing in about 10-14 days apparently and the scenery looks absolutely stunning.

      • 7 July, 2015 / 6:58 pm

        Oooh i hadnt heard of the new road. I’ve seen pictures/videos etc and the scenery is beautiful. Id love to see the northern lights and swim in the blue lagoon.

  3. John
    6 July, 2015 / 11:37 am

    I can tell you precisely what I would do, as I retired a couple of months ago. Since then I’ve been to a Macmillan Cancer Support conference, an All Party Parliamentary Group on Cancer meeting, a Melanoma Focus Group meeting, a Clinical Studies Group meeting, a co-design workshop to plan the future of cancer services, a 100,000 genome project meeting, a supportive care conference, a Cancer Outcomes conference, and visited an Experimental Cancer Medicines Centre and a Clinical Trials Unit. How did I ever find time to work?

    • Jo Middleton
      7 July, 2015 / 1:36 pm

      I have heard a lot of people say that when they retire they find they’re busier than ever! It certainly sounds like you’re filling your time well – are you enjoying it?

  4. 6 July, 2015 / 11:37 am

    Oh my goodness your imaginary life sounds amazing! I think mine would also involve some travel, but I’d still be based in Devon. I’d spend more time reading and doing creative projects, like redecorating, upcycling and crafting. I could do that while the girls are in school because I wouldn’t have to worry about working in any spare minute while the children weren’t with me. I’d have a beautiful garden because I’d have more time to be outside, I’d do Yoga every day and swim a couple of times a week. Regular spa breaks would also feature. *dreams*

    • Jo Middleton
      7 July, 2015 / 1:37 pm

      It’s interesting actually reading these responses and realising how inactive my fantasy sounds! I think it might be a reflection of feeling tired in the run up to the summer and not having much time for creative stuff – hopefully after a little while in the hut I’d feel refreshed and take up some more projects!

  5. 6 July, 2015 / 11:54 am

    Very similar, and maybe we’ll be on the same reading circuits. However, I’d need to tri-sect out the year. 1/3 lounging beach, 1/3 London-Paris (training between two) cafes andMinnesota cabin on a lake tea houses, and 1/3 Minnesota cabin on a lake. If I didn’t have to stay put, I’d uproot regularly but always have a place to call hone.

    • Jo Middleton
      7 July, 2015 / 1:38 pm

      That sounds pretty lovely actually, although I might have to do the city bits in smaller chunks! I love the idea though of having different bases – I do like variety.

  6. 6 July, 2015 / 11:58 am

    I would love this scenario. Not because I want lots of money to buy expensive things, but because it would take away the stress and worry of life. I would have more free time to help people, to volunteer, to travel without worrying if we have enough “food money” with us and I could craft, take photos and write all day… Great food for thought x

    • Jo Middleton
      7 July, 2015 / 1:39 pm

      That’s exactly it Claire, I don’t want so much money that I don’t know what to do with it – I don’t even especially like shopping – I’d just like enough to not have to think about it. They say it can’t buy you happiness, which I know is true, but it certainly buys you some freedom.

  7. 6 July, 2015 / 4:22 pm

    Such a good exercise to do!! I think my letter would say we had spent the last few months travelling the world as a family, home educating the kid(s) as we went!

    • Jo Middleton
      7 July, 2015 / 1:41 pm

      That would be pretty cool wouldn’t it? I’m sure I wouldn’t get on with the realities of home schooling, but I’m definitely finding, after 16 years of it, that school is pretty restrictive.

  8. 6 July, 2015 / 8:59 pm

    You know, this might sound horribly smug but I’m not sure I’d change that much about my life if I didn’t have to earn money! Apart from more travel, a bigger house and more shoes of course ;)


    • Jo Middleton
      7 July, 2015 / 1:41 pm

      *throws up in own mouth a little bit*

      Only kidding :-)

      I think it’s absolutely lovely Alice that you wouldn’t change anything – an inspiration to us all!

      • 7 July, 2015 / 1:44 pm

        Weeeell I’d also like a nice boyfriend. But you can’t buy one of those, can you?!

        • Jo Middleton
          7 July, 2015 / 1:47 pm

          I think morally it’s frowned upon ;-)

  9. 6 July, 2015 / 9:21 pm

    Oh, this is a good one – I’d love to be able to spend more time with my husband I reckon, nauseous-making as that sounds. And I’d love to have some spare time to work on projects and so on. And go on holiday loads, of course x

    • Jo Middleton
      7 July, 2015 / 1:42 pm

      That doesn’t sound nauseous making at all Gill, I feel totally the same!

  10. 6 July, 2015 / 9:34 pm

    Such a great question, I think I would be with you, lounging in a hammock, having a garden big enough to have one in, would be a good start too!

    • Jo Middleton
      7 July, 2015 / 1:42 pm

      Haha, yes! I don’t have a garden at all at the moment and am clearly craving some outside space!!

  11. 6 July, 2015 / 10:29 pm

    That sounds lovely! Although I’m not sure I’d want to give up the Internet.

    • Jo Middleton
      7 July, 2015 / 1:43 pm

      Well, that is a dilemma, but I just think about all the years we managed without it – was really life so bad??

  12. 7 July, 2015 / 3:34 am

    It’s a really strange one because I know personally that I need a purpose – I need something to do so I would probably take a few holidays but when be completed to start some kind of business otherwise I would get bored

    Laura x

    • Jo Middleton
      7 July, 2015 / 1:44 pm

      Well I’d have my novel writing of course, but I know what you mean, I do tend to get a bit restless without some sort of project on the go. Perhaps the fantasy is more a sign that I need a holiday!

  13. 7 July, 2015 / 7:40 am

    Yeah I would definitely travel more but in luxury and keep on blogging! I can’t imagine ever giving it up even if I was so rich I didn’t need to lift a finger! x

    • Jo Middleton
      7 July, 2015 / 1:45 pm

      That’s a very interesting point Jess – my blog is so much at the centre of work for me now, that it has lost quite a lot of the non-work associations for me, so the thought of not having to work ties in with the relief of the pressure to blog maybe?

  14. 7 July, 2015 / 8:52 am

    I love this I think its a great exercise and it shows what’s important to you in life which I think can get lost when you’re in the busy of day to day life! I think I might go write myself a letter! ….x

    • Jo Middleton
      7 July, 2015 / 1:46 pm

      Well I’d love to know what you write to yourself – if you do do it and blog about it then let me know :-)

  15. 7 July, 2015 / 8:28 pm

    Oh wow this is a big question for a Tuesday night…ermm…right now I’d love to just be able to spend my time at home looking after my family. My worst fear is how long we all have with each other and so knowing that we could live out the rest of days together, doing whatever took our fancy and not having to spend days and nights apart because of work to make ends meet would be a dream come true. xx

  16. 11 July, 2015 / 9:16 am

    There’s a question! Probably pretty similar to yours I think. Travel would be a big part of it.

  17. 12 July, 2015 / 3:18 pm

    Me I would have a very modest 3 bed bungalow on a Scottish Island complete with a swimming pool, indoor and heated of course. I would grow a lot of my own food. I would eat better quality food, more protein less processed. I would have a helipad and a helicopter so we could nip to the shop once a month ( click and collect of course)
    I would enjoy spending time in my allotment and my kitchen, and of course the grandchildren would come viisit.
    I would have decent outdoor clothing so no matter what the weather I could get out and enjoy what I had.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.