how much is enough?

The other day I was sitting in my cozy cushioned rocking chair thinking:

“Ah. This is it. I’ve done everything I want to do. All is perfect in Lynnville. I’ve finally arrived.”

Ha! Right!

Sure, there are moments when you appreciate how lucky you are and savour your experience. But there isn’t a time when you’ll have everything sorted and every day will be rainbows, sparkles, and awe.

Yet we go through life forever hoping we will get there.

The system we live in fuels a belief that there is some point of perfection out there that we can attain if we have and do the right things.

It’s a great trick.

Because as much as we logically know that this isn’t true, we can’t help but think we could get closer and be fulfilled if only we could make more money, get more skills, have more love, be more spiritual, try more activities…more, more, more.

Endlessly trying to reach an imaginary destination, we are caught in a continuous loop of never enoughness.

It’s no wonder we feel like something’s missing.
And that we keep trying to be and do more.

We’re fortifying ourselves against something we don’t quite understand, which makes us uneasy. But more of anything (except maybe love) is not what will make us feel better in the long run.

Instead, we need to find a way out of the dizzying loop.

But how? How can we make it stop?

Before I dig into our escape plan, here’s a story that points the way out.
It was written by Kurt Vonnegut in The New Yorker in 2005.

True story, Word of Honor:
Joseph Heller, an important and funny writer
now dead,
and I were at a party given by a billionaire
on Shelter Island.
I said, “Joe, how does it make you feel
to know that our host only yesterday
may have made more money
than your novel ‘Catch-22’
has earned in its entire history?”
And Joe said, “I’ve got something he can never have.”
And I said, “What on earth could that be, Joe?”
And Joe said, “The knowledge that I’ve got enough.”
Not bad! Rest in peace!

The billionaire obviously has waaayyy more than enough. But he doesn’t feel like he does and is always looking for more.

Whereas Joe knows that he doesn’t need most of what that billionaire has. He’s satisfied with his life.

But what’s most important here is how Joe knows that he has enough.

What does it mean to know you have enough?

Enough isn’t about just getting by.
Enough is having everything that matters to you.
Enough means not needing to add any more for good measure.
Enough feels like enough.
Knowing what you want out of life and what means most to you is the only way you’ll know what is enough.

This is different for each of us.

What’s wonderful about aiming for enough is that it’s tailored for you.

In the online business world, you’ll often see people saying they’ll help you build a 7-figure business.

That sounds good in theory but it doesn’t mean much. Seven figures is understood to be $1Million but why is that what we’re aiming for?

The assumption is that this number should be ‘more than enough’ to have the life we want.

Aiming to go beyond what you need will keep you in the loop of never-enoughness.

Because aiming for more than what is enough is like a dog chasing its tail.

You’ll never be satisfied or feel like you have enough.
You’ll chase growth for the sake of growth.

The inspirational business and self-development gurus will tell you the sky’s the limit and you need to dream big. But for most of us, a fulfilled and purposeful life looks nothing like what they’re selling.

Growing meaningfully can only happen if you know what’s enough.

To know that, you need to get very specific about what you want your life to be and why.

What do you want to be doing and experiencing daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly?

My enough number is $350k/yr until I’m 65.
To have the life I want, I don’t need more than that.
To get to this number I carefully walked through what I want my days, weeks, and months to feel and look like.

Then I estimated how much each specific element of my desired life would cost.

Where I want to live and travel, who I’m surrounded by, what I’m working on, who I want to help, what I’m investing in, what I’m doing for fun, what I’m doing to be vital and healthy, what I’m learning, and what my environment is like.

I listed every detail I could think of and assigned a number to each area, added taxes and assumed a 5% rate of return on investments to come up with my final yearly number.

Of course, that yearly sum isn’t going to be static but overall I know what I need to make each year to have enough.

To me this is a big number. Not close to anything I’ve made up to now.

So to that guru telling me that I’m staying small by not reaching for the stars I say:

I’m reaching for my particular star. And that’s enough.

How about you? What’s your star?

 

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