When asked how much money was enough, billionaire/philanthropist John D. Rockefeller reportedly answered, “just one dollar more.”
And while most of us will never manage that kind of wealth, it brings up an interesting question.
How much IS enough?
Have you ever sat down and thought about it?
The inspiration for this month’s post came from this podcast from The Business Authority. In it, Jonathan Stark and Rochelle Mouton walk listeners through the dangers of lifestyle inflation and give some tips for defining what’s important to you and the markers you need to know to determine that the risks you’re taking are right for you.
And that got me thinking.
November is a time when our thoughts naturally turn toward gratitude (hello, Thanksgiving!) But as business owners and freelancers, is it possible to be thankful – even content – without first defining our “enough”? In the world of the self-employed, income fluctuates, sometimes drastically, leaving us without the natural framework of a regular income. Businesses experience peaks and valleys with changing economies and consumer preferences. Planning for the long term can be difficult and the fear of “not having enough” leaves us scrambling to do more, get more and keep more.
The good news is that contentment can be found even outside our economic circumstance. And defining your enough is a good place to start.
Figuring out your enough is as unique as you are and involves a highly personal intake of your current situation, your goals and the things that really matter to you – not your neighbors, not your competitors. Stop comparing, and define success on your terms, and maybe you’ll find yourself one step closer to contentment.
And if contentment is the goal, then lifestyle creep is the goalie keeping you trapped in a cycle of ever expanding financial expenditures.
It used to be called “keeping up with the Joneses.” It’s the pull, conscious or otherwise, to have more, do more and even be more. But like the proverbial carrot on a stick, it’s an unwinnable game of “catch-the-unattainable.” Why? Because every upgrade comes with an uplevel and once you step on to the treadmill of lifestyle creep, it’s hard to step off.
Think back to your college days or the launch of your business. Those days were most likely pretty lean, and chances are you were very clear about what you did and didn’t need. What kind of car did you drive? Where did you shop? What did you do for entertainment?
Then came the successes. And the upgrades. And before long the gains we thought we’d made vanished. As our disposable income increased, so did our need; a bigger house, a nicer car, all the things. But when the mortgage you acquired in your 30s, and the sports car you bought in your 40s, keep you from switching careers as nimbly as you like or investing in the things that matter to you they become liabilities.
The point of defining your enough isn’t to sleep on an air mattress and drive an ‘86 Geo Prism forever, (ah, I do miss that sweet car) it’s to give you freedom, flexibility, and options. Isn’t that why you chose this lifestyle, after all?
Comparison really is the thief of joy, but in non-traditional career paths or business models, we can get stuck playing the comparison game. “Do my friends have it better than I do? Is my income really enough? What does success even look like when I’m paving my own road?”
Stop the madness.
Maybe you like a smaller house because they’re easier to maintain. Or maybe you really want to work more because it’s important to you to drive a nice car.
The point is – it’s your choice. But step off the treadmill. Stop letting others’ expectations and appearances dictate what’s important to you, and build your life on your terms and for what is most important to you. So when you wake up you can fully say “Yes. Thank you. I am grateful for this life. This is enough.”
Dive into our handy guide right here or arm yourself with our ‘My Enough Checklist,’ available for free below.