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At one time or another, most of us have struggled with the issue of having ‘enough.’ In fact, even when accomplishing excellent earnings, we often feel that we need ‘just a little bit more’ – that we don’t have quite as much as we’d like. So just what and how much is enough? And, what might help us trade wanting more for knowing we already have it?

At the intersection of work, life and this holiday season, we might just need a time-out to reconnect with what really is ‘enough’ for us. And, while it’s not strictly about the coin of the realm, it’s important for us to acknowledge the presence and power of money in our lives. That the way we handle it reveals a great deal about our priorities, values and intrinsic self-worth.

I look forward to hearing this month’s feature story – How MUCH Is Enough? - will assist you in determining that it’s time to say about your life and happily mean – ‘enough IS enough.’


Recent quotes from Coach Joyce K. Reynolds have appeared in The Wall Street Journal; USA Today;; Chicago Tribune; American Airlines Magazine, The American Way; Microsoft's; Cosmopolitan; Working Mother Magazine; Learning/Discovery Channel/; Sun-Sentinel; Glamour.



Once again, the big question circulating in corporate offices and around many dining room tables is - how much is enough? While this question is not new, the focus of it changes, in part, with the economy. In good times, the question may arise out of a feeling of unease that we are in danger of being overpowered by our materialistic urges. In uncertain times, our concerns center around fear of being unable to sustain a lifestyle created during periods of greater prosperity. While some of us simply relish the chase, many others feel over-burdened by the incessant drive for economic security. Yet, even inevitable quality-of-life sacrifices do not seem to change the baseline responses to the initial question. We continue to be tormented by the belief that there is never enough. That we are entitled to abundance and must have it ‘all.’ That we simply want more.

When we’re finally ready to tackle the issue of enough, asking and honestly answering questions such as the following will be beneficial: Is my effort to achieve and earn more a personal quest or a response to how I am viewed by others? If money were not an issue, what would I be doing? How much money do I believe I need in order to keep finances from affecting my decisions about my life, career, the number of hours I work? What do I have to do to earn this level of income and is it worth it? What other priorities might I have to sacrifice to maintain or keep improving my income? Does this mean I care more about making money than about my personal time and life? If so, is that okay with me?

Here’s a little more on the subject:

1. The Wanting-More Syndrome.
More money. More success. More satisfaction. More material comforts. More time. That's what most of us think we want and without any trade-offs. Plenty of us also think that it's smart to work really hard now in order to 'get somewhere' in the future. So, we run full out and often sacrifice present resources in order to pursue some imagined future gains. Many of us also believe that having more money would result in greater happiness. In fact, we believe this even though we see evidence that many of the wealthiest people in the world are far from the happiest. Fortunately, somewhere in the collision of hope and hopelessness that our wanting more creates, we have moments of clarity in which we know that something has to give. That more of one thing eventually leads to less of something else. That asking too much of ourselves in the chase for enough may likely result in painful choices, unpleasant compromises and unnecessary hardships. When we allow ourselves to consciously focus on what wanting more really costs, we may become less inclined to sacrifice at too-high levels.

2. The View from Wherever.
In Civilization and Its Discontents Sigmund Freud wrote, "It is impossible to escape the impression that people commonly use false standards of measurement. That they seek power, success and wealth for themselves and admire them in others, and that they underestimate what is of true value in life." Certainly as a society, we have come to believe that our income determines our level of success. That wealth is having more than we need. That we must endlessly pursue the material in order to demonstrate our well-off status. But, are these the standards by which we really want to live? Maybe, just maybe, we need to consider the alternative offered by Charles Kingsley, "We act as though comfort and luxury were the chief requirements of life when all that we need to make us really happy is something to be enthusiastic about." In a culture that has little interest in humility and great fascination with wealth this might seem beyond simplification to an outright absurdity. But, when we are willing to get clear on our true and underlying values, this concept takes on richer meaning. We get to focus on being what we value and doing what we love instead of relentlessly - sometimes blindly - accomplishing and accumulating. We also have a better chance of enjoying what we have rather than dedicating our lives to getting more of what we intrinsically don't value.

3. Money or Time.
In this fully-packed, fast-paced world, many of us strive to increase our earnings so that we can take advantage of every opportunity and pleasure the world has to offer. But, if the effort to produce consumes the majority of our time, we'll have little left in which to enjoy ourselves. We may also find ourselves facing some unpleasant trade-offs. So, let's ask ourselves what's really more important. Do I want more money or more time? More power or more time? More challenge or more time? How much time do I want to devote to family or friends? How much public acclaim will satisfy my ego? How much time do I want for personal reflection that might lead to greater self-understanding? How much stuff is really enough for me? In fact, when we make financial gain our main focus, no matter how much we earn, there's a good chance that our quest will leave us feeling frustrated and empty. Perhaps even more important is the fact that - as we focus on earning enough to have all we think we want or think we need - we find ourselves in the unenviable position of not having time to enjoy what we're working so hard to attain. We're better off to remember while there are 24 hours in a day, 168 hours in a week, 52 weeks in a year, the number of years in each of our lifetimes is uncertain. In fact, many of the things we deeply want require time not money. Money can not buy the love of our children, the strength of real friendships or the peace of a day spent in the beauty of our environment. Rather, these are the things that require our time. The choice is ours.

4. The Way We Are.
In questioning our standard of enough, it's helpful to ask if we are living the kind of lifestyle that we really want or the one that society pressures us to pursue. Have we swallowed as whole cloth the popular message - if you want it, you can have it? It certainly appears that affluence is regarded today as an American birthright with few people acknowledging that this is myth that is fed by consumerism. Even more damaging is the fact that most people agree that money makes us what we are - either prosperous or not. Those same people are unwilling to acknowledge the darker side of wealth where it becomes easy to hide our real and human sides behind our prosperity, our money. That it can be applied to overshadow or override what we consider to be our flaws. That it's easier to use money, over-generosity or gift-giving to control people and make ourselves look better. As writer Irv Thomas said, "The most wonderful thing about money is also the most troublesome thing about it. It tells you who you really are."

5. The Balance Thing.
It's been suggested that talk of balance is today's way of saying life is full. In evidence of our great distance from the real meaning of the word consider the response of a group recently surveyed on the topic. When offered an array of possible strategies for pursuing balance, the majority rejected any that required them to compromise their careers, change the type of work they did, move them toward part-time or freelance work or require them to give up the idea of being a superstar at work. These were all viewed as nonstarters even in the name of balance. "As a nation of strivers, most of us are prepared to embrace this precarious blend of wanting and having, of getting and spending, and to call it 'balance.' We believe that at some point, having 'more' of something -- more money, more self-knowledge - will change the game in a way that yields a new style of work, a new way of life and a new sense of personal freedom. Then, at last, we will have it all." One more urban myth. Balance is achieved by those who are able to prioritize and manage the demands of both their work and private lives in a responsible and realistic manner around the things they have identified as most valuable to them.

6. Show Me the Money?
When they were asked to indicate factors that would help them achieve their goals in life, 86% of a group surveyed identified making more money as critical. Yet, most people would do things differently if they didn't feel money-related pressures. In fact, most of us can admit that money is capable of changing a lot - including our consciousness. As important as money is, we would be wise to determine exactly what role it plays in our lives. We need to know how much money will stop us from worrying. How much we require to feel well-compensated at work. To what lengths we'll go to achieve greater wealth. It's up to each of us to decide as did former Microsoft executive, Johnny Calcagno who said "I stopped working for Microsoft in 1997. I left millions on the table by walking away from the job. Most people can't do that. I left a lot more on the table than I took away. Most of my friends before and after are slacker-artist types who don't have any money. I'm still comparatively rich and you don't need that much. I don't need a villa."

7. The High Price of Enough.
Over 100 years ago, Ralph Waldo Emerson said "Sometimes money costs too much." Indeed, as our income goes up, so do our expenses. In fact, it simply costs more to have more prompting one writer to observe, "A working man can get a good night's sleep. But the rich man has so much that he stays awake worrying." We live with anything from a perpetual feeling of never being satisfied to a relentless, gnawing hunger for more. In either state of mind, it's easy to forget what's truly important. If we live and work as if we always need more, we can quite simply never get enough. As Chris Copper of put it, "I set a target of what enough money is. Let's say that target is a million. You get closer and closer to a million dollars, and you start shifting the target. All of a sudden it's $5 million, then you start thinking $20 million wouldn't be so bad. It's very easy to be at a point where it's never enough." The perfect platform for chronic discontent.

8. Your Money or Your Life?
It's safe to say - if someone thrust a gun in our ribs and asked that question - most of us would quickly turn over our wallets. Such a blatant threat makes apparent the value of our lives versus our money. But, when it comes to less menacing choices, things get a little more confusing, our thinking a little murkier. For instance, we seldom view the compromise of family and personal time in favor of business in such dire terms. This point was clearly demonstrated by a group of 1,096 college-educated, employee adults that was given an in-your-face choice via a Fast Company-Roper Starch Worldwide online survey to test the priority of money. Each respondent was asked - which would you rather have - a $10,000-a-year raise or an extra hour per day to spend at home with your family? No less than 83% of respondents opted for the cash even though 91% of respondents had indicated earlier that making their personal lives more of a priority was important to them. It would appear that money, indeed, carries the highest of priorities. That we easily obsess about raises, bonuses or promotions and create a lifestyle based, primarily, on what money can buy. That we often view money as the most powerful factor in our success, our life satisfaction and in our ability to determine the structure and substance of our lives. All told, it appears that when it comes to 'your money or your life' - most of us have not quite decided. No so with Senator Paul Tsongas who said - after deciding not to run for re-election after being diagnosed with cancer, "No man ever said on his deathbed - I wish I had spent more time at the office."

9. Success vs. Excess.
Another fascinating aspect of enough is what we can describe as the rewards of success versus the beginnings of excess. Many people are of the opinion that too much is not good. That there's some reason to question the prevalent belief that it is only having more money that paves the way to improved quality of life and better work/life balance. In fact, there are plenty of people who are not entirely comfortable with their own acquisitiveness and accelerated drive to make more money. Yet, we live in a society of contradictions which was clearly visible in the results of that Fast Company-Roper Starch Worldwide survey. They tested the limits of "enoughness" by offering the following scenario: Pat is offered a job opportunity at a hot startup. There's a clear trade-off: long hours in exchange for the chance to cash in big when the company goes public. When the choice was framed simply as one involving two alternative paths, 59% of respondents said that Pat should take the high-risk, high-reward road. But when they gave Pat a working spouse and kids and posed the question again, 43% of respondents said that taking the new job would amount to "losing sight of what's important." In other words, studies show that it's easier to establish the line between success and excess when other people's lives are under scrutiny. Given the courage, it might be quite illuminating to take a look at our own lives as if they belonged to our neighbors. Quite possibly we'd get a more honest view of our own distinctions between success and excess.

10. Back To the Beginning.
So, here we are still wondering how much is enough. The answer might appear to be that there really is no such thing. That, typically speaking, the more people have, the more they want. As Harvard professor, Dr. Shoshana Zuboff observed, “Enoughness is a moving target. The rich are no more able to achieve it than those who are less well-off.” No matter what category we fit, the fact is that our true lives are not made up of the things we own. That acquisition for its own sake does not serve us well. And, that more of something that fails to feed our inner yearnings is useless to pursue. Instead, having enough means we do work that we love not because we need the money. That we are not drained by our daily lives because they are over full with less than meaningful things. That we have protected the personal part of our lives so that we enter it with energy and interest. That we have money put away to see us through a reasonable number of months of normal expenses. That our lives do not hinge on any one job. That we know who and what we love and make plenty of time for both. That we spend generous time with our families and friends. And, that we are truly satisfied with the contributions we make to the bigger world. And, in the present, to clearly understand that ‘enough’ is largely a state of mind. As film producer Mike Todd put it, “I’ve been broke, but I’ve never been poor.”



Money Therapy 101
Pamela York Klainer.

Can money ever buy happiness? Only if you can learn how to talk about it with honesty. Too much. Too little. When it comes to money, we never seem to reach the Goldilocks nirvana of "just right." That's because we're so obsessed with getting money - earning it, keeping it, multiplying it - that we don't get money on a deeper level, says Pamela York Klainer, founder of the Rochester, New York-based consulting firm Power and Money LLC. "Money is such a powerful, unexplored thread in our lives and work," says the veteran career coach and financial planner. "The fact is that at a very deep level, our lives as successful people are about our experiences with money. That's taboo to say, but it's true. And it's true whether we make a lot of money or an average amount. Yet few people talk about their experience with money honestly or with any clarity. Gaining clarity about the role that money plays in your life opens a unique window to who you are, what you value, and if you can allow yourself to be happy."



At an airport I overheard a father and daughter in their last moments together. They had announced her plane's departure and standing near the door She said, "Daddy, our life together has been more than enough. Your love is all I ever needed. I wish you enough, too, Daddy." They kissed good-bye and she left. He walked over toward the window where I was seated. Standing there I could see he wanted and needed to cry. I tried not to intrude on his privacy, but he welcomed me in by asking, "Did you ever say good-bye to someone knowing it would be forever?"

"Yes, I have," I replied. Saying that brought back memories I had of expressing my love and appreciation for all my Dad had done for me. Recognizing that his days were limited, I took the time to tell him face to face how much he meant to me. So I knew what this man was experiencing. "Forgive me for asking, but why is this a forever good-bye?" I asked.

"I am old and she lives much too far away. I have challenges ahead and the reality is, her next trip back will be for my funeral," he said.

"When you were saying good-bye I heard you say, 'I wish you enough.' May I ask what that means?"

He began to smile. "That's a wish that has been handed down from other generations. My parents used to say it to everyone." He paused for a moment and looking up as if trying to remember it in detail, he smiled even more. "When we said 'I wish you enough,' we were wanting the other person to have a life filled with enough good things to sustain them," he continued and then turning toward me he shared the following as if he were reciting it from memory.

I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright.
I wish you enough rain to more appreciate the sun.
I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive.
I wish you enough pain so that the smallest joys in life appear much bigger.
I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting.
I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess.
I wish enough "hello's" to get you through the final "good-bye."

Then, with a tear in his eye, he quietly walked away.



I'm fifty-five years old and the owner of a 20-year old mid-size company. I'm trying to decide whether to sell the business for a pretty good price or spend maybe another ten years growing it to the next level. I've worked hard to build the company and have made a good living. I'd really like to do something else but I'm worried about selling the business now instead of spending the time to get more for it in a few years. Any suggestions?

If you already know the value of your business and feel confident about the ease of sale, the issue you will need to tackle is which will most closely satisfy your needs and values - stay and build or sell and explore. Translated, your challenge will be to decide whether the possibility of more money in the future is a stronger attraction for you than the opportunity to ‘do something else’ in the present.

Once a person has worked hard over a considerable period of time to build their business to a profitable and satisfying state, other challenges do arise. As the stress of owning and growing a business eases a sense of complacency can set in. Behind that might come restlessness or even a sense of staleness – of losing one’s edge. Any of these could lead to thoughts of trying something else, something new that will renew the challenge of life. On the other hand, it might also signal a time that ignites the desire to stretch in a totally different direction or explore and bring to fruition an old dream. If that’s where you’ve arrive, your smartest decision about selling your company or not will depend on determining what is really most important to you today – at this very time in your life.

Due diligence is in order which includes writing down all the reasons to stay and further build the company versus selling your business and trying something new. Ask yourself: How much more do you want from your company and what is the cost – to you – of staying to achieve that worth? How do you feel about getting a good price for your business today versus investing another ten years of your life to get more for it? Are you just bored and wanting to feel refreshed? Or, do you feel you’ve done it ‘all’ in your current position? What are the most important business things in your life today? Is your business fulfilling those things? Do you feel intellectually challenged by the idea of building your company to the next level or do you just want to get more for it? Are you eager to gain expertise in a new area? What, specifically would you do next if you were to sell your company? How much do you want the invigoration of a new physical environment or way of life? In other words, clearly determine your desires and objectives and which route will better enable you to satisfy and meet them.

It’s quite possible that repositioning or revitalizing your current business could provide the renewed challenge you seek. If, on the other hand, you find that there is some long ago desire that finally needs attention, you’ll want to more seriously consider selling your company - or grooming someone to take over a larger portion of your work responsibilities – so you can attend to an original dream.

In any event, your best direction will be revealed most objectively if you remove the money issue from your decision-making process. Rather than be driven entirely by the value of the sale, you want to weigh out the cost of investing another ten years of your life expressly in pursuit of a higher selling price for the company down the road. Unless you know you will find genuine fulfillment in devoting that time to your current business, you could face some unfortunate consequences by deciding to stay for just the money. Not the least of which would be postponing or even losing the best, most exploratory and personally satisfying time of your life.

If you take the time to, honestly, get a clear picture of what either direction would provide in the way of satisfaction and reward, your ultimate decision will be hinged on knowing what is really important to you and exactly which avenue will best help you achieve your identified objectives.


©2002 by Joyce K. Reynolds. Duplication with credits only please. Click here for easy access to all books referenced. For complimentary 20-minute Coaching session e-mail or visit Click here to send this newsletter to a colleague. Executive Business Coach on Click here to Unsubscribe. Newsletter maintained by Web Factum, LLC.