Hot Takes in Cold Days: Desire & Enough

It’s February STILL, and to muddle through I’m making a few videos exploring some of the themes that come up in my work with clients and groups.

This video explores the existential question: Where on the scale between manufactured consumer desire and fear-based asceticism do you find yourself today? How do you know, and what do you decide based on it?

In the last week I’ve had three conversations that swirled around the topic of enough:

  • How much money is enough for me to have?
  • How do I know if I have enough money?
  • How much will be enough later?

People. This is why money is about everything else in life. Money is the means, not the end goal.

Having “enough” means: having a home, food, things to care for myself and my loved ones with, the ability to make decisions autonomously, a feeling of security, a sense of ease. 

“Enough” might mean: The ability to jump right to working on the end goals without having to sweat the means. 

I can go direct to planning a trip without also planning how to pay for the trip. I can go direct to quitting a toxic job and starting a new business venture without fearfully wondering how I’ll eat in the middle. I can decide I want to act on a desire – for beauty, pleasure, fulfilment – confident that it’ll be available to me and that I want it from my heart, not from being a target market.

You might be starting to think: hmm, sounds complicated. Privileged. Unlikely. Lucky. Mythical.

For some of us, there has never been the ease of jumping directly to the goal. In this case, imagining bigger goals is the challenge. For others, there’s never been an issue of truly being blocked by economics. In this case, understanding resources purposefully is the challenge.

This is the toxic conundrum at the center of our economics:

We want confidence and ease, yet there are few paths to end goals that allow you to skip consideration of the means to get there — and those paths that DO allow you to skip consideration? Be wary.

To click once and prepare to be satisfied? To enter a credit card and allow yourself to hand off the problem? What’s made to feel easy might itself be a construction: a means to a profit end.

When people ask me: how do I know what’s enough / if I have enough, I hear existential dread: how do I know that what I think I need is “right” and how much is that, anyway? What if I’m wrong? What if I’m right and I am messing it up RIGHT NOW?

Sometimes I wonder if “Enoughness” is, perhaps in and of itself, an artificial goal, put in our minds by the perception: SOME people have enough, but not me. Never, of course, me. Let me try, but watch myself fail. I think about when folks get big raises or financial windfalls and still feel like they don’t have enough.

As if it’s hard coded into the operating system of our deeply individualistic self-reliant society to seek “enough” but live in the shadow of fear of failure. That shadow deepens when we merely look around.

Of course, there’s things you can do to increase that confidence. I touch in the video on calculating a number and seeking to save it up; in this video I tell you how to keep track of net position.

These will all help…but they won’t solve the bigger issue, of being precarious in a world with few safety nets. Fighting for more safety nets, and creating ones with and for others, will also help.

What would a world where we didn’t have to be anxious about “enough” look like?

I suspect it would be one where “NOT enough” wasn’t a guaranteed personal crisis, and perhaps didn’t exist. What would make up a world where no one worried they wouldn’t have enough? What’s one thing you can do, today, to build towards that world – for yourself, a loved one, or a stranger?