I received an interesting email in response to my post Do You Have Enough?. A reader asked a very simple question. How do you know if and when you have enough?
This question is not about having enough money. That’s a topic for a different day. The question is whether your quest for money and/or your lack of focus is actually getting in the way of enjoying your life.
Here’s a simple way to address the question for yourself. Find a quiet room, sit down and create a list of items you feel you can’t live without. Don’t think about the basics like food and shelter. Instead consider who or what makes you happy? If you have trouble creating a list try thinking about your past. Are there specific events in your life that you recall with fondness and warmth? Try to write down at least three or four things that truly fill your life with happiness and joy.
As you reflect upon this list sit quietly again and contemplate your current life choices. Do you spend time with the people whose names you wrote down on your list? Do you carve out time for moments that bring you joy?
Now begin to think about your day-to-day routine. Are you squandering your time on things that don’t really matter? Do you find yourself participating in a bunch of activities that don’t make you happy? Do you make time in your day for the things that really matter? If not, why not?
A lot of people work long hours at meaningless jobs and find themselves too exhausted to carve out time for the people they love and the passions they crave. We all know we don’t need to drive expensive cars or fill our closets with endless articles of clothing, yet we spend our most vital hours slaving away at jobs that help us buy things we don’t really want or need.
When you begin to ask yourself what it means to have enough you may find that you already have it. You may be wasting time, the most limited of resources, focusing on all of the wrong things. Things that don’t bring you any happiness or joy.
Maybe you don’t need to waste countless hours at a meaningless job. Maybe you could earn less money and actually lead a more enjoyable life. Maybe you don’t need to climb the corporate ladder. Maybe work should not be the biggest focus in your day.
By defining what enough means in your own life you may be able to refocus your energy. With a little reflection you may be able to stop the cycle of quick gratification, (buying things you don’t really want or need), and instead spend time on the people and projects that truly matter.
With this new perspective you may be able to avoid the spending cycle. Imagine if you saved more of your money and began setting aside your paycheck for the things that really matter. Maybe you could retire earlier, find a job that pays less money, relocate to friends or family or move to a smaller home.
With a little reflection and gratitude you may find that you have more than you think you do. At that point you can decide how best to refocus your energy to savor and enjoy the things and people you love.