06/20/2012 05:27 pm ET Updated Aug 20, 2012

What Would You Do if You Could Take a Year Off?

What would you do if you were given $100,000 to take the year off?

  • Would you quit your miserable job, buy some cozy sweats, redo your bedroom and chill at home watching movies, eating good food, sleep and get back to a state of balance?
  • Would you travel the world and see those places on your dream list?
  • Moms: Would you hire a good nanny and a housekeeper and treat yourself to spa days and getaway weekends with girlfriends?
  • Would you decide to volunteer for a year -- perhaps give back to your community with money and time?
  • Would you go back to school?  Pay off your loans? Start a college fund for your kids?
  • Pursue your hobby or lifelong dream to become a filmmaker or guitar player?
  • Would you take care of your health?  Perhaps you need to learn how to meditate, get a trainer, and revamp your eating habits. Or, as a caretaker, perhaps you can help someone you love heal and find comfort?  How could $100,000 bring healing into your life?

Posed with this question, my mind began racing with the infinite things I could, should and would do with $100,000. (FYI, I was inspired to think about this by a promotion by Gold Peak Tea, which is supporting someone to take a year off -- to enjoy the comforts of home, rejuvenate and do whatever they want -- with $100,000.)

An interesting Gallup study from several years ago distinguished "life satisfaction" from "enjoyment of life." This amount of money definitely can give most people in the U.S. the day-to-day security (life satisfaction), which leads to happiness.  But people who "enjoy life" don't necessarily find it with more money.  Enjoyment of life generally includes being socially connected, having fun, and feeling a sense of purpose.

So if you were gifted some money, how would you decide what to do with it?

Here's how I would decide: what would make me feel happy and more balanced in my life. Here's a model of balance I have been using to make choices about how I spend my time and financial resources.  In each bucket, I think about where I am thriving, struggling or suffering:

  • Rest and Sleep
  • Good Nutrition and Exercise
  • Relationships (Family, Friends and Community)
  • Work, Financial, Career
  • Intellectual Stimulation
  • Creativity and Play
  • Spirituality and Sense of Purpose

Be honest with yourself about those buckets where you feel balanced and those you need some help on. Think about if you had more resources how could you use them to bring your life in more balance. And decide which ones you can improve right now, by making an intent to embrace what makes you stronger, happier, more purposeful and fulfilled.

For more by Mallika Chopra, click here.

For more on happiness, click here.