MSEL: Enough.

I turned down the fourth potential client in as many weeks recently. It’s not easy for me to turn down work – I want to please everyone, and I could always use a little more money in my retirement fund. But I left the world of full-time work almost a year ago to create balance in my life, to live in a state of “enough.
As in “enough work.” And “enough money.” And “enough time.”

I was first introduced to the concept “enough” through the book “Your Money or Your Life.” The authors’ theory is a fairly simple one – that once our needs (not just for food, shelter and clothing, but also for fulfillment and meaning) are met, we’re in a state of ‘’enough.” We don’t need anything beyond that; rather, constantly trying to attain the next big thing while ignoring that which makes you feel truly fulfilled leads to an endless cycle of spending to create temporary happiness. That spending, in turn, requires even more work, at the expense of time we could spend on activities (or with people) that give our lives meaning.
But how do you figure out what enough looks like? 

In my case, I decided (after years of earning good money while working jobs that weren’t always fulfilling) that I needed to be able to pay my bills, fund my art business for a year until it becomes profitable, put something away for emergencies, and save a little for retirement. Those are my money requirements. On the time side of the enough equation, I wanted enough time for my art practice, enough time to go on trips, enough time to take care of my housekeeping so I didn’t feel constantly frazzled or overwhelmed.
When I first started consulting, though, I had more than enough time and not enough client work (and therefore not enough money). Fortunately, my client base quickly grew to the point where I had enough client time and enough creative time. I work on-site with my clients four days per week, and work on my art the other three days.
I’ve turned down any client work that would take me beyond four days per week. Having fewer than three days of dedicated creative time would mean that my art practice would suffer, I’d have piles of dirty laundry, and I’d feel just as overwhelmed as I did when I had a full-time job. Yes, I’d earn more money, but I’d just put it aside for the future, to take time off from a hectic life. Frankly, I’d much rather live that less-hectic life now.

Which is not to say that I’m lazy or unmotivated. Trust me; saying “no” is not easy to do. It takes real discipline to maintain this balance. I just don’t buy into the rat race, or the idea that retirement is our reward for hard work. Instead, I look at my relationships with friends and family, at my bank account, my art output, my client schedule, my pile of clean socks, and know that at this moment, I have what I need. I have enough.

9 thoughts on “MSEL: Enough.”

  1. Jen, I’ve been silently following you for a while and you are so wise to realize this while you are still so young. I read that book about 15 years ago, and am now at a point where I’m trying to achieve the “state of enough.” My biggest issue is finding creative time. I feel so deprived creatively, that it is really weighing on me.

    I look forward to watching you continue to achieve your “state of enough.”

  2. Hi Jen, just wanted to let you know that I found you through your guest post at “When I Grow Up Coach” and I absolutely love that you’ve been able to balance two different careers. I said it in my comment to the other post, but I think it’s worth repeating. Thanks for giving us permission to have a creative and professional career. I’ve gotten to the point that I don’t love my day job, and want to do something a little more creative. But there are still aspects of that job that I know I’m good at.

    Thanks again and I’m looking forward to following along.

  3. @Angie Thanks so much! And hang in there. I’ve felt creatively deprived and it’s taken me a lot of work (and a few lucky breaks)to get to the point I’m at now. I’m also planning to write a bit about money in the next few weeks – it’s so important to our ability to be creative.

    @Cathy Welcome! I hope you’re able to find a day job that satisfies you and that allows you the time and space to be creative.

  4. This is an excellent post. I’ve been trying to say no as much as possible in the last year and it’s not easy but I’m slowly getting back the time I need to rest and enjoy life.

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