Would you make a ‘good’ lottery winner? – Press Enterprise

“If I won the lottery, I’d…fill in the blank.”

Many of you immediately can fill that blank quickly, as this is often a fun topic of conversation. And each time I overhear the discussion, it starts with, “Well, I think I could manage differently than those horror stories of lottery winners you hear about!”

The confidence is optimistic. In fact, the dark underbelly of sudden winnings can be disastrous.

Three of the biggest tragedies people report after receiving significant windfalls are the demise of previously good relationships, the sudden occurrence of frivolous lawsuits on the part of others and the rise of scams presented to them disguised as great investments. Add to this the dilemma of not being familiar with handling larger sums of money, and the dream of winning the lottery pales.

So, if you do win the lottery or come into an unexpected windfall, how should you approach things so that you don’t become another casualty?

In three previous columns, you’ve read about ways to safeguard the income and integrate this into your estate, accounting pitfalls to avoid and wealth advice. What else should you be thinking about?

Have a vision for your life

As well-known sales coach Ursula Mentjes is fond of reminding us, “Money needs a place to go!” Her messages include the charge to plan ahead and make sure that the income supports your larger plan or vision.

The funds will otherwise disappear quickly without much, if anything, to show for it. Money is a tool, and if you have received a bigger tool, this means you will be able to build more. How does having more income help you to meet your personal vision?

Use your values

Making sure that you are grounded in your personal values will ensure that you stay on track in your decision-making around your newfound wealth and will also help you avoid many pitfalls.

What are your key values? If you have a vision for your life, how will you make decisions that support this vision?

For example, if family is one of your top values, making sure that you edify this with your spending strategies and patterns will be important.


Make sure that your money decisions are yielding a good investment and be sure to work with your wealth adviser, accountant and estate planning attorney.

It’s hard to imagine, but many lottery winners and other people receiving unexpected windfalls go broke quickly.

Having a vision and living by your values are a good start, but you will need to get the advice of the experts to make sure your decisions around spending and allocating monetary resources are sound.

Invest in your personal growth

By this, I mean know who you are and continue to sharpen your growth opportunities as a human being.

When we fall into stressful circumstances (and yes, coming into sudden money is stressful, even if considered positive), our weaknesses tend to flare up.

If managing your anger is an Achilles heel for you, work on it now. If conducting critical conversations with confidence is tough for you at present, dive in and learn how to do this.

Why? Because “stress mode” will push those hot buttons for each of us. And if we aren’t solid in who we are and how we want to show up in life at present, it will show up in spades when a windfall arises. Who are you – and what are your growth edges? How do you want to show up in life?

If you are intentional with these steps above, and you have a great financial team, you stand a much better chance of being one of those who can truly celebrate having come into the money to support your vision and goals.

Patti Cotton serves as a thought partner to CEOs and their teams to help manage complexity and change. Reach her via email at [email protected].