Perhaps the greatest benefit (albeit it was unknown to me at the time) of contributing to the book, How I Invest My Money, was that I was sent a beautifully framed version of the personalized sketch Carl Richards put together for my chapter. Though this wasn’t the case for many of the contributors, it’s quite obvious where his sketch idea came from for my chapter. I said,
“For me, enough is acknowledging the line between satisfaction and excess.”
The sketch Carl came up with is beautifully simple and yet it encompasses so much of how I think about the world. I hung the sketch above my desk at home as a constant reminder.
This isn’t just a financial motto, but a motto for my life. It’s a reminder to stop at “enough” and not to pass through to excess. I want to share a couple of recent examples from my personal life as to how this has been as much of a life philosophy as it is a financial philosophy.
For a short while now, I have started to get the itch to purchase a new car. For what it’s worth, I drive a 2015 Toyota 4Runner. It is a vehicle that is plenty nice and plenty sufficient for my needs. Ironically, after I hung the sketch above my desk, it hit me that my current vehicle isn’t just enough for my needs right now, but enough for my needs for quite a while longer. I don’t need a new vehicle. And if I am honest with myself, I’m not even close to needing a new vehicle. I got stuck listening to my internal American consumeristic voice instead of focusing on what enough is for me. If I would have purchased a new vehicle, I would have been excited for a few months (if that) until at some point, it’s “just a car” that gets me from A to B.
As another example, last week I sent an email to a subsection of my subscribers that I am taking on just five more client families before I click pause on bringing on any more new clients. When I joined Shorebridge early in 2018, I had a certain number of client families in mind that I was seeking to serve. As I type this late in 2020, I am approaching that number and it happened much faster than I could have ever anticipated. In my business, I am approaching “enough.” Bringing on an unlimited number of clients may serve my ego, but it surely doesn’t equate to better service for my existing clients or better for my family. Understanding that dichotomy helps me to see the insanity of the “If you’re not growing, you’re dying” mentality that is so prevalent in our industry.
If I am aware that I have enough, then I believe contentment is sure to follow. In the book, The Almanack of Naval Ravikant, it says,
“Happiness is not about positive thoughts. It’s not about negative thoughts. It’s about the absence of desire, especially, the absence of desire for external things.”
In this quote, I don’t believe the author is talking about just material things, but about anything external to also include achievements and recognition. I have been lucky throughout 2020 to have been recognized in a couple of national publications for my contributions to our industry. I never shared them here (and won’t) because the only purpose would be to feed my own ego. One could make the argument I did just that, but I’m only saying it to make a point. When I received the notice that I was being recognized, I said, “That’s pretty neat.” and then went about my day hardly skipping a step. Because I never started doing any of this for the recognition, but for the hope that I might actually make a difference. I can’t begin to explain at what point I will know if I have accomplished my personal mission, but it’s what keeps me driving on.
I am content. Not because of anything external, but because of my awareness of what enough means to me.
Enough is a term that has very little quantitative definition, but much subjective definition. Often, we can’t tie a specific number to enough, but we know when we are there. It’s subtle and yet definitive. It just hangs there waiting to be acknowledged or ignored. But the important point is that we know it exists. It’s just a matter of whether we want to pay attention to our inner voice or ignore it completely.
If you are one of my American readers, this week is Thanksgiving - a holiday in which we are typically surrounded by our families and others we love. As 2020 would have it, this won’t be a normal Thanksgiving for many of us this year. But it doesn’t mean that we can’t take the time to find contentment in our lives right here, right now. Maybe you can take some time to begin an internal dialogue to decipher where the line is in your life between satisfaction and excess to help you define enough as you see fit. My hope is that as you dig down deep, you may also find contentment in the process.
I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving and stay healthy through the holidays!
I am thankful for you.