Million Dollar Experiment

November 2nd, 2005 by Steve Pavlina

Since the polyphasic sleep experiment has gone so well, I figured it would be nice to try another interesting experiment in a different area of life. This one will be financial in nature. I’m going to see if I can manifest $1 million by using the intention-manifestation model.

First some background info on my financial situation to set the stage for the experiment…

For many years my family and I have been living very comfortably (by U.S. standards, which means insanely rich by global standards), but I certainly don’t consider myself to be incredibly wealthy in purely financial terms. My wife and I have enjoyed a healthy six figure annual income from our businesses for many years. However, with all the business deductions and exemptions and such, our actual taxable income drops to five figures. Partly this is because I tend to invest extra cash in deductible expenses like attending conferences and seminars and other forms of professional development, which I feel yields a better payoff than giving away money in the form of taxes that would subsidize certain forms of idiocy I’d rather not pay for.

As for financial security, that’s never been a problem for me, but I’m the kind of person who has an extremely high risk tolerance and could feel perfectly secure living on a park bench. I’ve never been afraid of going broke. My wife doesn’t seem to share this point of view, however. ;)

Seriously though, the fact that my wife and I both run businesses with about ten different streams of income puts us in a very secure situation. We cannot be fired or laid off, and since our risk is spread across different areas, we often see a drop in one income stream accompanied by a spike in another. Since most of our money comes from internet business, we have a lot of control over how much money we make. Aside from our home loan (we bought a house in January), we have zero debt. We own our car outright, and we pay off our credit card balances in full each month.

But we certainly aren’t gazillionaires. However, we’ve never really tried to be. You may notice that I haven’t written any articles or blog entries about how to become a millionaire or how to make ludicrous amounts of money. That’s because I haven’t done that, so how can I possibly teach that to others with any degree of integrity? I don’t write “how to” articles on things I’ve never done.

Did you ever see the episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation called “Peak Performance?” In this episode Commander Data plays a game called Strategema against a humanoid opponent named Kolrami. Everyone expects Data to win because he’s an android, but he actually loses. However, later in the episode Data and Kolrami play a rematch, and Kolrami gets more and more frustrated and eventually gives up, so Data wins the match by default. Data reveals how he played this second game differently. Data realized Kolrami’s strategy was based on the assumption that Data would be playing to win, so Data broke Kolrami’s strategy by striving to play for a draw instead of a win. Data passed up obvious opportunities for advancement in order to maintain the status quo, and those decisions threw his opponent off balance.

One idea I learned from this episode is that you don’t have to pick the obvious strategy when going through life. Much of the world is designed around the expectation that you’ll choose the obvious strategy. For example, you’re expected to get a job and earn a salary from it. That’s what most people do. However, having a job is one the most difficult ways to make money, mainly because you have to trade so much of your time for cash, most of which you spend anyway. It’s the obvious strategy, so it also attracts the greatest amount of competition and becomes a highly inefficient way to make money in the long run. It only took me six months of working as an employee to figure out that it wasn’t for me, so early in my 20s I dropped this strategy and decided to try something different. Instead of trying to earn money by having a salary, I decided to earn money by starting a business. A few years later I refined that strategy a bit further. I decided to pursue greater freedom by setting up systems that would provide me with income instead of working directly for money. This way I could maintain an abundance of free time without having to spend much of my time earning green pieces of paper. I wanted to put my income on autopilot, so I could spend time doing more interesting things than earning money. I especially wanted the freedom to pursue my own personal growth as a human being, whether or not such pursuits would directly generate income.

In the long run, this strategy has worked incredibly well for me. For many years I’ve enjoyed an amazing abundance of free time to do whatever I want to do. I currently receive income from downloadable computer game sales, royalties, ad revenue, affiliate programs, intellectual property licensing, and a few other irregular sources. My wife also has multiple streams of income from direct book sales, book sales through distributors, advertising, affiliate commissions, web consulting, and probably a few other sources I’ve forgotten. I find this strategy much easier than getting a job and working for a salary. It’s a little more work up front, but it quickly pays off after a few years. We make money while we’re sleeping, which seems very natural. New deposits go into our bank accounts each day. But the real point of passive income is the time freedom. I can hardly imagine what it would be like not to have control over my own schedule, especially not having the freedom to pick my own projects (whether or not they generate income). I feel a lot of compassion for people who’ve been conditioned to believe they have to go to work each day, especially those who don’t enjoy their jobs much. We’re all taught that this is the expected way to make money, and if that’s working for you, then great. But if it isn’t working, just be aware there are alternatives. Making money via the Internet is pretty easy once you develop some basic skills.

Even the Google Adsense ads on this blog bring in four figures a month now, and I just added those in February. At the current rate of increase (every month the ad revenue has gone up a lot), I expect those ads will be bringing in five figures a month within a year or so (maybe less). This is a very easy stream of income, especially since I love blogging anyway. And while there are some wacky ads now and then, I find most of them to be relevant to the content. Most of the ads seem to be for other personal development web sites. I hope those advertisers are getting their money’s worth, since a lot of visitors are clicking on those ads each day. Partly I’m amazed they’re so effective.

Some people who don’t know me very well have been confused by my actions at times because they assume my business strategy is based around becoming as wealthy as possible (especially for my computer games business). They question where all my wealth is and get disillusioned when I do things that don’t seem to have a profit motive. Or they’ll assume a profit motive for things I do, figuring I must be doing something extremely clever they can’t figure out yet. Material wealth wasn’t the kind of wealth I was trying to create though — I built my games business to be an entirely different vehicle. I felt it was far more important for me to achieve “time wealth” before financial wealth. I wanted to be in the situation where I de-coupled my income from my time, so I could make money as passively as possible without having some kind of burdensome empire to maintain and without being beholden to people like investors or bosses. It’s easy to find other downloadable games businesses that are more financially successful in the sense that they generate more income than mine. And if that’s what the founders of those businesses set out to do, kudos to them. However, I think it’s a lot harder to find people who’ve automated and optimized those businesses to the point where they can be maintained by one person on less than one hour per week and still generate a decent income. So far I haven’t met anyone who ran a games business like mine who enjoys as much time freedom as I do for the income it generates. Many of these people seem to have businesses that have taken over their lives, and not in a good way. And when you add the polyphasic sleep on top of this, the amount of time wealth I now have is almost ridiculous.

What would you do if you had enough passive income that you didn’t have to spend your time working for money? That’s the question I get to answer every day. I feel very fortunate to have the freedom to spend hours each day pondering the nature of the universe, running weird experiments, and sharing what I learn through this blog without having to worry about paying the bills. It’s a pretty wonderful way to live, at least for me. To me this kind of success is far more important than the acquisition of a lot of stuff, especially stuff that will only drain more time away.

Over the weekend I was playing an old 80s board game called Therapy with my wife and some friends, and one of the questions required them to rate how materialistic I was on a scale of 1-10. After some discussion they settled on a 3, which was what I wrote down too. That’s an accurate answer; I’m not a very materialistic person at all. It amuses me though when people I’ve never even met assume I’m materialistic simply because I’m self-employed and generate passive income. It must be a blow to their sense of reality that I drive a 1994 Pontiac with 154,000 miles on it. And yet I also notice these same people appear to be much less happier and enjoy far less freedom than I do. They have bosses telling them what to do and where to go. They have to be certain places at certain times. Their lives are filled with “have tos,” absent any sense of meaningful purpose or higher calling. Plus they’re usually full of fear, worried about getting downsized or right-sized or super-sized. When you ask them about their work, you mostly hear whining and complaining about their company’s political situation and the unfairness of it all. They want what they don’t have, and they don’t appreciate what they do have. It’s like watching rats on a treadmill running themselves to death to arrive at some imaginary destination that they never reach. Sorry, not for me.

As a young adult, I figured that if I invested the bulk of my 20s developing myself as a person (which requires a lot of time investment but not much money), then I’d be in a position where it would be easier to acquire anything else I might want from life. I thought that if I developed qualities like courage, integrity, self-motivation, self-discipline, and a sense of purpose, that I could use those internal qualities to achieve whatever level of external success I desired. One unexpected side effect is that somewhere along the way, I found the internal development to be so intrinsically rewarding that it became an end in itself, and I found focusing on external success to be far less rewarding. There’s no way I would trade away qualities like self-discipline or my sense of purpose for any amount of money.

Now that I’ve got a pretty stable situation going, I want to experiment by pushing a bit more on the external results side. The most obvious place to do this is in the financial arena, especially since it’s fairly easy to measure. Plus I think it would be interesting to have the experience of being financially wealthy on top of the time freedom I already enjoy. And extra financial resources would allow me to extend what I’m already doing in new ways.

The Million Dollar Experiment

Consequently, I’ve decided to try a new experiment to see if I can attract a large sum of money into my life. I arbitrarily opted for $1 million, since that’s a significant enough sum that I’ll definitely notice it. So basically I’m going to attempt to become a millionaire. And most of all, I’m going to attempt it by using the intention-manifestation model to make it more fun and challenging. This means I’ll allow myself to be guided by intuition as opposed to rigidly planning out every detail. I’m also not planning to directly spend any of my existing cash to get it, except through reinvesting cash that comes by way of the experiment. So I’ll be starting with $0 seed money, and if I happen to need cash for some kind of initial investment, I’ll have to attract that cash too.

In this experiment I won’t be including any of my existing sources of income, unless there’s an insanely huge surge in one of them that seems attributable to this experiment. I’m open to this happening as creatively as it wants to, but I don’t want to force it to be an extension of one of my existing cashflow streams. I’d also like it to manifest in a way that other people can replicate if they want to use the same model.

Again, this is an experiment that has me curious more than anything else. I’m entering this with the same mindset as the polyphasic sleep experiment. Naturally there are some obvious benefits to having an extra $1 million cash, just as there are benefits to having an extra 30-40 hours a week of free time, but those end results aren’t my primary motivation for doing this. I’m mainly curious to see if it can be done. Is it possible to make $1 million using the intention-manifestation model, simply by willing it to occur and then letting the universe handle the details and being guided by intuition and synchronicity? I’m very curious to find out.

So here’s my intention:

In an easy and relaxed manner, in a healthy and positive way, in its own perfect time, for the highest good of all, I intend $1 million to come into my life.

The first four phrases of the above are something I picked up from Marc Allen’s wonderful book The Millionaire Course, which isn’t really about becoming a millionaire at all. It’s really a book about the intention-manifestation model of goal achievement. The exact wording of the intention isn’t nearly as important as the thought behind it. I could nitpick the wording, but it isn’t going to make a difference. The words are just a means of communicating the intention to others.

I’m going to allow the intention to manifest however it sees fit. Trying to control how the manifestation occurs would require falling back on the cause-effect model. I also don’t want to use an obvious approach like investing $100/month and waiting 50 years. I think the intention-manifestation model has the potential to work far faster than that. So I’m very curious to see if/how this intention manifests.

Presently there’s nothing in my life that’s already in motion that seems like it would generate $1 million or more except over the very long term. So I have no idea how this money is going to manifest, and I have no existing plan to create it. I’m just going to choose to believe that it will manifest, and I’ll allow the intention to sink into my subconscious for a while and see what comes of it.

I’m following the same pattern I did with the polyphasic sleep experiment, so I’m remaining detached from any particular result. I’m at a very good place in my life right now, and I honestly believe that an extra $1 million wouldn’t make me any happier than I already am. At best it would just open up new avenues for doing what I’m already doing. I’ll decide specifically what to do with the money if/when it manifests, just as I waited to decide what to do with the extra time I eventually gained from polyphasic sleep. My main objective is to develop a better understanding of the power of intention, so I think this will make for an interesting test. Plus it should be fun for anyone reading this blog to follow along and watch the results unfold.

I can’t see there’s much of a downside to this experiment. Either I attract more money into my life, or I don’t. If the experiment flops, then you can poke fun at me all you want. I won’t take it personally though because I don’t invest my ego in my experiments. As I see it, failure is impossible because no matter what, I’m going to learn something interesting about this intention-manifestation model and perhaps about reality itself. To me this is a far more interesting way to spend my time than selling widgets to pay the bills.

If you’d like to participate in some way, then all I ask is for you to take 30 seconds to put out the intention for this experiment to succeed. Just tell the universe to make it so. It certainly won’t hurt, and it might even help. If I can somehow manifest $1 million out of thin air, then it means I can share all the details of how to do it with you through this blog, so then you can hopefully generate a similar result once you’re ready. At the very least, let’s go into this with an open mind and see what happens out of pure curiosity. Unless I have a compelling reason to keep certain data private (like a signed non-disclosure agreement with a third-party), I’ll share all the gory details with you down to the penny, as far as I’m able to track them.

A number of people expected my polyphasic sleep experiment to fail within the first few days, but I’m up to day 13 now and still going strong with that, so who knows? And if this million dollar experiment actually succeeds, then we’re really going to have to try something to push the limits.

Just as I did with the polyphasic sleep experiment, I’ll post log updates whenever I have something meaningful to share. I’ll setup a separate spreadsheet to track whatever new sums of money seem to enter my life as a result of this intention. I wonder how long it will take to attract $1 million.

Remember that intention-manifestation works only in the present moment — setting a deadline would put me back in the realm of cause-and-effect. Plus it’s more important to me that this money manifest in such a way that it happens for the highest good of all, so I don’t want to add constraints that might interfere with that. But obviously it would be more impressive to earn an extra $1 million in a year than it would be to earn it over a decade.

If this intention does manifest, then it should encourage others to give the intention-manifestation model some serious consideration. And by sharing all the details, perhaps I can help others create more wealth for themselves too.

You may notice I added a new “Wealth & Money” category to the blog sidebar, so I can post about my experiences as I proceed with this experiment. As I mentioned several weeks ago, I want to spend more time writing about the leading edge of what I’m doing instead of pumping out “how tos” based on what I did five or ten years ago. So this fits with that intent. But you won’t find any “how to become a gazillionaire” articles until and unless I become one myself.

For some reason this experiment didn’t meet with as much resistance from my wife as some of the others did. ;)

Edit (11/03/05): This experiment has been revised to turn it into a group experiment. Please see the Million Dollar Experiment – Version 2.0.


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