03/13/2011 03:23 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Are You Working Towards Your Dream?

"And she never had dreams, so they never came true"
-J. Giles Band

As a structured settlement consultant, I go to meditations and settlement conferences with people who anticipate receiving large sums of money. I ask every person the same question. "Forget about what is going on today. If you won the lottery, what would you spend the money on?"

The initial answers are usually vague, like "invest" or "put money in the bank." Then, I tell them that when I become a billionaire, I am going to buy the Cincinnati Reds. When I tell them about my lifelong desire to own the Reds, they start talking about the things that interest them.

From a planning standpoint, the lottery question is a great one. Everyone has dreams and desires but usually keep them hidden, back in the recesses of their minds. The lottery question gets those dreams and desires out in the open, on the front burner.

Some of them have expensive aspirations (owning a NASCAR team comes up frequently). But, usually, they want things like sending their children to a nice college, buying a particular piece of property or helping their church.

Once we start the conversation, the list gets longer and longer. My goal is to get people to think long-term. They need to clear their thinking of the rat race of every day life. The lottery question makes that happen.

You don't find many Americans who really think long-term. Many people go through life never developing real goals or good habits. We need a lottery question to help guide the people in Washington and Wall Street. Those of us on Main Street need it, too.

Someone once said that American business people think quarter to quarter, Japanese business people think decade to decade and Chinese business people think century to century. We've watched short-term myopia destroy Wall Street. We need to take a lesson from our friends in the Far East.

My father always said, "If you tell me who your friends are, I'll tell you who you are." You want to be hanging out with dreamers. And you want to be a dreamer yourself. A college friend introduced me to the J Giles song, "Angel in Blue," and its sad lyric struck me even then. My friend was a person who never seemed to have any dreams or goals. I've always had bunches of them and I couldn't understand a person who didn't.

I think everyone has some kind of dream or goal, but it gets buried by the overwhelming burdens of everyday life. Maybe that is why the lottery question is so effective. It takes people away the realities of their current situations and puts them in fantasy world, where they can start clean.

If people take the time to ask themselves both the lottery question, it will allow them to focus on their goals and objectives. Once they get focused on their dreams, they may actually come true.

Don McNay, CLU, ChFC, MSFS, CSSC of Richmond, Kentucky, is an award-winning columnist, structured settlement consultant and Huffington Post Contributor. He is the author of the book, Son of a Son of a Gambler: Winners, Losers and What to Do When You Win the Lottery. He has appeared on the CBS Evening News With Katie Couric along with numerous other television and radio programs. You can read more about Don at McNay has Master's Degrees from Vanderbilt and the American College and is in the Hall of Distinguished Alumni of Eastern Kentucky University. McNay is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Round Table and has four professional designations in the financial services field.