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When is Enough, Enough?

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How much is enough? This is the question a few friends and I were kicking around a few weeks ago when we were enjoying a lighthearted conversation about what that meant.

While we didn’t necessarily come up with the answer then and there, we did manage to pin down what not-enough looks like. We all agreed that while we were content with what we had in the early years of adulthood, it was not enough by our standards today. Why is that? We were happy back then. Granted, things change as we grow older: we get married, have kids and maybe even relocate or upsize. But let’s say you strip all those lifestyle choices away and account for inflation alone, monetarily speaking what we had back then still wouldn’t be enough today.

But what is enough? As we continued to reflect on this interesting question, I remembered something a friend of mine had jokingly said a few years ago on the topic: enough is 20% more than any of us have today.

While I knew he was kidding, it got me thinking: there is some truth to the sentiment, isn’t there? Maybe it’s not 20% exactly, but the truth is, most of us probably feel that what we have today isn’t enough—be it money, toys, happiness or even weight (okay, maybe 20% less for this is good for some of us).

So, when will enough truly be enough? Will we ever get to that place where we’re satisfied with what we have, or will we continue to raise that bar—forever placing it just out of our reach? For the Type A personality types out there (like myself), you might be naturally drawn to my friend’s viewpoint on the matter. Add to that any competitive tendencies you may have, and you’ll find yourself endlessly chasing after a moving target, unsatisfied.

As it turns out, my friends and I are not the only ones asking this question. A recent study from Princeton was conducted to identify the the income threshold for happiness. Turns out, it’s $75K, according to that study. The research revealed that those who earned less than $75K were less happy, but those who made more than $75K (regardless of how much more) did not report any greater degree of happiness.

Then, is that the answer? Is it $75K?

Maybe. Maybe not. I don’t have a specific answer to the question. What I do have is advice that I have given myself on how to define and realize what enough looks like in my own life: set a goal, achieve that goal and celebrate the success. Then from that place of success, ask yourself if you’re happy with your achievement(s)? If so, then maybe you have, in fact, achieved enough.

“He who knows that enough is enough will always have enough.” Lao Tzu

Have a great weekend.