Why Jim Carrey Wrote Himself a $10-Million Check Before He Had $10 Million

Josh Hoffman
3 min readJan 7, 2019
Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

This is an excerpt from one of my favorite books about self-improvement and productivity, called Mind Hacking.

Written by Sir John Hargrave, the book focuses on four key categories:

  1. Improving your career
  2. Conquering fear
  3. Fixing your relationships
  4. Overcoming addictions

Jim Carrey and the $10-million check

Jim Carrey, the world-renowned comedian and actor, didn’t exactly grow up in the richest of families.

In an interview from 2007, Carrey, who lived in a variety of blue-collar factory towns throughout his childhood, said:

“If my career in show business hadn’t panned out, I would probably be working today in Hamilton, Ontario, at the Dofasco steel mill. Those were where the great jobs were.”

While Carrey was struggling to find work and progress his entertainment career, his father tried to help the young comedian, often driving him to Toronto to appear at comedy clubs. Carrey’s impersonations bombed, which gave him doubts about this career path, and his family’s financial struggles made it difficult for them to support Carrey’s ambitions.

In 1985, Carrey made an audacious decision: He wrote himself a $10-million check for “acting services rendered,” dated it 10 years in the future, and kept it in his wallet. Call it a coincidence, but in November 1995, Carrey found out he was cast in the movie “Dumb and Dumber” for — you guessed it — $10 million.

Some might chalk this up as the law of attraction, a belief that positive or negative thoughts bring positive or negative experiences into a person’s life, but doing so is actually missing the point. Instead, it was the physical, written check which sat in Carrey’s wallet for 10 years, that did the trick.

As Sir John Hargrave says:

“Until it’s on paper, it’s vapor.”

In his book Mind Hacking, Hargrave says the obvious-yet-often-underutilized practice of writing down our ideas, thoughts, and resolutions is a game-changer. Writing is a gateway behind the world of mind and the world of matter. It’s how thoughts become things, how an idea gets from our heads into our hands.

In 2008, a study funded by the National Institute of Health recruited nearly 1,700 people to help them lose weight — by keeping a food diary (a written or digital list of everything they ate).

The results were astounding: The more food records people kept, the more weight they lost. Knowing their food choices would be recorded, rather than eaten and forgotten, was a powerful motivator to make better choices. Furthermore, participants began noticing patterns in their diet, which could only be understood and appreciated after they wrote it down.

Where to go from here

In terms of time management and productivity, my main focuses at Hack My Time, here are a few practical things you can start writing down immediately:

  1. Positive and meaningful thought loops
  2. Your entire day, or at least parts of your day (known as Vertical Planning)
  3. How you can better spend periods of downtime

There’s more where that came from at Hack My Time.



Josh Hoffman

Founder of IZZY – Stream Israel, basketball lover, mental health advocate