In Search of Enough



I’ve heard babies with a vocabulary I could count on my fingers, utter this word. We learn it early and use it often. It seems burned into our thinking, and haunts us for the rest of our lives.

As children, our parents take on the role of regulators. We ask for more, and they tell us we’ve had enough, often much to our dislike.

At some point, we become adults and then, with the exception of some illegal behaviors, we take on the role of own regulators. We decide when enough is enough. Some do it better than others. Most still struggle, at least a bit. We are programmed to want more.


I once read an article that posed the question, “How much is enough?” The question got my attention.

The authors researched the question and discovered that for most people there is no such thing as enough. The more people have, the more they want. They found that enoughness is a moving target, that regardless of income, people usually don’t achieve.

This question struck me as one I would like to answer for myself. I know that I’ve always believed my yearly earnings should exceed the previous year’s earnings. I’ve strolled through larger houses and imagined myself in one. And as for peach pie with ice cream, well enough is never enough.

The article reminded me that continually wanting more will probably result in frustration and unhappiness.

Questions That Help

I’ve been thinking about how to overcome my desire to have more. It’s hard. I live in a wealthy community with signs of more visible everywhere I go. I’m not certain I know the solution to this problem; however, I thought of some questions that I believe will put me on the right path.

  • What aspects of my life do I like best?
  • What do I value?
  • How do I differentiate between what I need and what I want?
  • How well am I meeting my needs and those of my family?
  • How does what I want support my values?
  • What price will I pay to fulfill my wants?
  • What would it take to be happy with what I have right now?
  • What will bring me joy and make my life complete?

By wrestling with these questions, I believe I can better answer, “How much is enough?”

Once I’ve discovered the answer for myself, the really hard work begins…living with it.

By Tom LaForce

Tom LaForce owns LaForce Teamwork Services, a Minneapolis-based consulting company. He's on a mission to create better results through teamwork. He wrote Meeting Hero: Plan and Lead Engaging, Productive Meetings.