My book, The Upside of Downsizing, has the subtitle Getting to Enough. For several years I’ve been concerned about what seemed to be our increasing greed, our need for “stuff,” and replacing what’s really important in life with “things” or with constant activity or with an unrelenting drive to make more and more money. I came to wonder “gosh, how will we know when we have enough?”
And I decided that was a really good question for each of us to ask ourselves: How will I know when I have enough? Enough what? Well, that might be different for each of us. For some it might be stuff or clothes or shoes. For others it might be food or drink or sex or money. And for those of us who find it difficult to leave work at work, it might be work!
For myself, I realized that when I paid attention, I actually knew when I felt, “OK that’s it! That’s enough!” My first conscious experience with this was one day after I had been working with a company for many years, I suddenly felt as if I had a wet suit on. Now, I don’t know of anything more binding when one is not in water than a wet suit! And in that moment, I realized that I had to get out of there soon. And so began a journey of making many significant changes in my life. That moment is what I came to see as my sign. My sign that working there was enough. I’d had enough. I’d had it. That moment is what I came to call my Sign of Enough.
You may have experienced this in your own way. It may occur when not one more thing will fit in the drawer or the closet or the shelves in the garage. It may be when the zipper on the trousers you’re trying to put on simply will not go all the way to the top. It may be when your daughter or son asks you if you really have to. . . AGAIN. . . miss their ballgame or recital.
Whatever it is, I believe we can become very alert for our own signs of enough, and then begin to make whatever changes will bring us to a middle ground. . . not too much and not too little, just enough. It’s an ever-shifting balance. When we can find that balance, we are happier, healthier, more peaceful, and more loving to both others and to ourselves.
Right now, write down or at least think of a list of things that might be relevant for you to ask yourself the question “How will I know when I have enough?” When you have the list, just for this exercise, choose one that might be the most important at this moment in time. Ask yourself the question “How will I know when I have enough?” For many of us, when something is on that list, the answer is “I have enough right now. In fact I have way more than enough.”
If this is true for you, what small action could you take to begin to reduce the amount of that thing? For example, take at least 5 pairs of shoes to Goodwill; take at least one bag of books to the library for their book sale; leave work on time at least 3 days a week.
Choose ONE small action you could take. Will you commit to yourself that in the next week you will take that step?
If you or someone you know is getting ready to go through a significant downsizing, please email me at [email protected]. I’d be happy to set up some coaching calls to help with getting through this difficult time. And please come back to these blogposts so you know when The Upside of Downsizing: Getting to Enough is available.