What’s Enough For You?

I was coaching a prospective consultant. He had big plans for his business. He wanted to make a ton of money. He wanted to run gigantic workshops. (His word, not mine.) He had Big, Big Plans.

I asked him what success meant to him. He had an answer all about money. So I asked him this question:

What’s enough money for you?

He didn’t have an answer.

Here’s the real problem: success is almost never about money. Success has a lot more to do with how you live your life. I’ll address that question later. Let me return to the question of what’s enough.

You might have an answer about money. At work, it might be time for your project work, or time with your manager. Personally, it might be time with your family, vacation time, or time to do your beloved hobby. Maybe it’s not about time at all for you—maybe for you it’s about the ability to learn new things or to collaborate with others.

Enough is how you think about a scarce resource. What’s scarce in your life?

I can’t possibly know what’s scarce for you. However, I can tell you how I have answered this question in the past.

  • When Mark and I planned for retirement, we asked ourselves, “What’s the amount of money we think is right for us when we hit 65-70?” We weren’t sure when we would actually retire. We like to work. And, we wanted the flexibility to take more vacation time as we age. We came up with a number.  We have an idea of what enough is and how to achieve it.
  • When I think about my work, I ask myself, “What’s the right mix of travel and work from my office?” I want to work enough to continue learning. And, I made the conscious decision to travel less often as my vertigo increased. I had to determine how to learn enough from my clients if I didn’t travel more often.
  • As a manager, I often thought about the project portfolio although I didn’t have the words back then. I asked, “How many projects is the right number for us as a department and for us as people?” I asked that question of my managers to make sure they realized they had to decide with their conscious brains.

I could continue, but now you have three options. Here’s how I think about enough:

  • What’s scarce in my life?
  • Why is that scarce? What other choices do I make that creates that scarcity?
  • What choices can I make to decrease that scarcity?

If money is scarce, you might ask if you need a different job, a different role for more responsibility and therefore more money. That’s the income. And, if you’re like me, you look at your expenses—what can you reduce so you don’t need to make more. Instead, you keep more of what you make.

If it’s time for a hobby, ask yourself to assess where your time goes: your commute, your paying job, your family and so on. Can you reduce your commute? Are you working overtime at your paying job? (Why???) Do you have intense family responsibilities now that will decrease as you age? I am very thankful that babies grow up and become working adults :-)

“Enough” for us varies at different times in our lives. I hope you see options for yourself and to consider what enough is for you, now.

Dear adaptable readers, that is the question this week: What’s enough for you?

3 thoughts on “What’s Enough For You?

  1. Jim Grey

    I live pretty frugally. I didn’t set out to do this, but fifteen years ago I had a pretty major setback and in recovering from it I bought an inexpensive house and car, and have stuck with them. Having minimal expenses opens up my life options.

    But my eleven-year-old Ford Focus really stands out among the cars my peers drive. Seriously, they’re running around in Lexus SUVs and BMW sedans. Yet not having a giant car payment is allowing me to pay cash for my sons’ college educations.

    I think the thing I don’t have enough of is self-confidence to just drive what the heck I want and not care about showing status.

    1. johanna Post author

      I’m with you re the car and the house. Good for you re the college payment. (We did the same.) I much prefer function over form. Some things require form. I am sure that dress-shopping for my daughter’s wedding next year will be all about form, not specifically function :-)

      I don’t see the point of spending money to show other people “who” or “what” you are. For me, money is a tool. Money allows me to live the way I want to, a way that’s easy for me.

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