Talking about money all the time can be dangerous. We far too easily obsess about our net worth or lack therefore. Ads for stuff and better experiences are all around us. If we could only own those new shoes, jacket, car, or watch, we’d finally feel like we made it. Many see the emptiness in getting stuff and instead think if they could only have this experience or go on that exotic trip, they’d finally feel like their life was meaningful and complete. Those of us pursuing financial independence (FI) like myself often feel that our life is on hold until we reach that FI goal. We will then be able to live life to the fullest. The problem is that all these pursuits whether for money, stuff, or experiences seem to never end. We never feel we ever reach that ultimate goal. There’s always a urge for more or something different. If we were to stay still for a moment, we might find an undercurrent of discontentment throughout almost every activity in our life.
I notice this discontentment especially in the addiction I have to my phone. Any moment of sitting or waiting, I’m usually on my phone checking my email, the news, Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook. Doing this multiple times throughout the day, I run out of meaningful stuff to check on my phone, yet I still am seeking for something to entertain me in those unfilled moments of my day. I end up aimlessly flipping through apps or playing Candy Crush, a game that honestly isn’t very entertaining for me. I didn’t realize what was driving my behavior until I put down my phone and just sat. It was boring and enlightening. Hearing the clock tick and feeling the urge to have something, anything entertain me was profound.
Enough is the remedy to discontent. It is also the true secret to financial independence. Eventually you have to decide how much money is enough otherwise you will die pursuing more money because there’s always a larger net worth to pursue and work towards. It is wise to increase your net worth, but you also need to figure out how much is enough for you. For most nurses, we have enough in our lives to live happy and comfortable. We don’t need a $75k lifestyle or $100k lifestyle with the latest BMWs or large houses. Most stuff we buy and consume in America beyond the basics is status symbols. This is also true of the experiences and vacations we buy and pursue. The people we have in our lives especially our families are what make life meaningful and rich. You probably have enough right now. This is powerful as you embrace and live that way. There are exceptions. Some people truly are suffering due to lack of money and basic necessities of life, but most are not.
With Thanksgiving upon us, let us live in the power of enough. Gratitude is the twin sister of enough. We have hundreds if not thousands of reasons to be thankful. Start with the obvious things around you and move outward. Many of us will gather with family and friends for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Most of us get together with friends during the weekends or our times off. These are the experiences and stuff of life that matter most. Let us remember with gratitude what we have right now. Let that be enough. May our pursuit of financial independence never squelch our gratitude of where we are and what we have today.