The definition of enough
On today’s morning run I listened to one of my favorite podcasts, an interview with Jason Fried (CEO of Basecamp). In the interview Jason talked about the idea of doing enough in his organization. As I ran, watching the early morning sea, feeling the heat of Sicilian sun on my shoulders, I thought about how this idea could be applied to life.
How can doing just enough make us happy and live a better life?
So many people and companies are trapped trying to hit a metric. A KPI. A goal. Be it sales, dollars, revenue, customers or running time. And failing to meet these self-induced expectations makes you be in a perpetual state of failure. You feel as though you are never enough.
But you are.
What is enough?
- You don’t need all the customers in your market. Depending on your type of business (b2c or b2b), you’ll either need 10 or 10,000 or 100,000. But not all.
- You don’t need 1 million subscribers or Instagram followers. As it turns out, you only need 1000 loyal fans. Imagine everyone paying you $5 a month for your content. That’s already $5000 per month (and $60k per year).
- You don’t need to hit an arbitrary bullshit-goal of ‘having X dollars by Y age’. It’s all in your head. Life is not a game.
- You don’t need to listen to books or podcasts at 2X or even 3X speed. The whole point of listening to content is to enjoy it, to think it through. And if you don’t get to it, then you don’t get to it. There is no point in trying to get it all.
- You don’t need to work in the office for 12, 14, 16 hours per day. Most of the work can be done in 4–5 hours or less and it depends on where your priorities are and how you structure your day.
- You don’t need to be available 24/7. Keeping yourself sane is more important.
- You don’t need to be a billionaire. And you don’t need more achievements. Happiness is in the simple things.
Jason told the story of how he used to work out to be a runner. One day he told himself to hit a 6 min per mile threshold. And when he didn’t (he got a 6:10), he felt disappointed. “But why?!” — his older version asked. “I had a good time. I enjoyed the run. I had fresh air. I exercised my body, my mind, my will. Why am I sad? It was great!”.
Enough — is a decision. It’s like an order from a pissed off army general: “enough!!” (banging his fist on the table).
Tell that to yourself (although with more kindness, please). Do your mind a favor. Stop beating yourself up.
You can’t be aware and appreciative of the things you’ve got if all you do is worry about the things you don’t have.
Once you realize that you don’t need everything, life becomes much easier.
And mind you, I am also not an expert at this. I would say, I suck at realizing that I’ve got enough. Or that I need to strive for (only) enough. My mind is constantly racing, trying to figure out what I need to do next, what goal to pursue, what sale to close, what I can make better and how I can become the best. But I am working on it. Because I realize that if I set myself goals like this, I will never be fulfilled.
So stop trying to hit a metric. Instead, ask yourself how whatever you are doing feels. Are you enjoying the process? Are you having fun? Are you growing: physically, professionally, mentally?
Realize that you don’t need everything there is.
One way to do that is to stop comparing yourself to others. And you stop comparing yourself to focusing on yourself. Stop looking at your competitors, at your peers, at that dude or gal on Instagram that has a perfect six-pack and and a jet. Fuck them. Save time and mental energy for yourself by turning your phone off at breakfast and dinner.
Because every second you spend thinking about someone else takes that second away from you thinking about you.
And most importantly, ask yourself “why”?
Why do you need to be a billionaire by 30?
Why do you need to disrupt your competitors and have the whole market share?
Why do you need to be ultra-productive?
Why do you need to be the best?
Really, why? Are these your goals? Where did they come from?
I recently realized that I don’t want any of these things. If you told that to the 18–19–20 year old version of me, I would have thought you’re full of shit. I needed it all.
But as I grow older I realize that happiness is in the small things. It’s also in the free things, like:
- Running in beautiful landscapes
- Writing and drinking coffee in the morning
- Spending time with loved ones
- Growing everyday: physically, emotionally, spiritually, mentally.
So instead of striving to get it all, strive to get enough.
Enough will leave you fulfilled, calm and grateful.
Let me know what you think about this in the comment section below. If you have a story to share, please do so. Thanks for reading.