Are you content? I don’t just mean with your earnings or family or relationships, but I mean with everything? Do you feel you’re ‘famous’ enough? Are you happy with the number of pants and shirts you own?
Alternatively, are you just waiting for the next released T-shirt from whatever your favourite band is? Are you on the treadmill of phone upgrades every two years? Do you just wait for the first opportunity to upgrade your computer, or … whatever electronic device is your particular vice? It doesn’t even have to be electronics — are you simply waiting for an excuse to upgrade your bike (motorized, mountain, road …)?
Enough by Patrick Rhone is all about the internal quest for contentment or for enough stuff. Not simple asceticism where one casts off the digital world forever and heads out to the wilds never to be heard from again. While this holds allure for many trying to get away from their jammed inboxes it is simply running from the problems that they have typically put on themselves.
The message is about having enough. Where you’ve tested what it means to you to have enough of something. You’ve signed up for all the social networks and then cut out the ones that didn’t suit your needs so you currently interact with enough people on them.
I’m convinced that a successful life is largely driven by balance and moderation. Not too much of anything. Not too little either.
More is easy. Our natural proclivity is to have just a bit more. Our society reinforces this idea. More means safety. More means security. With more, you will never be hungry. You will always be just a bit full. Because more means you don’t have to fear less.
Fear of less drives us to more.
So I ask you again: Do you have enough? Are you content with life as you now live it?
From December 10, 2015 to January 13, 2016 I lived on 2 pairs of pants, 1 pair of shorts, 5 T-shirts, 1 dress shirt, 4 pairs of socks, 5 pairs of underpants and 2 sweaters. In this case I was more or less forced into this limit as we were travelling by plane with 2 kids and 1 dog for a full month, visiting family across the country. I could only take one bag and most of my bag was full with stuff for children, so I really just had my own backpack which held my laptop, all the family electronics and our dSLR.
But after a month of working out, living, dressing up, swimming with kids, shovelling driveways and all the other things a month on the road threw at me, I was pretty much fine. I had enough for the trip and while I was missing a few things that would have been nice, I could make do with everything I had with me.
But this lack of ‘extras’ brought home to me that I have so much stuff I rarely use. Looking in my closet now I see a huge stack of T-shirts that are single-duty and only 5 that are double-duty where I can wear them to the office and work out in them.
The goal, then is not to find what is, or will be, Enough forever. That is impossible. The goal is to discover the tools and strategies you need to find what is Enough for you right now and provide the flexibility to adjust as the conditions change.
You’ve heard that we should be embracing our constraints, but Rhone challenges us to not just embrace those that we encounter but to create new ones to see what comes of our work inside those constraints.
If you have a project that will cost thousands of dollars and take two months, ask yourself what would happen if you only had five hundred dollars and had to do it in a month. How would you do the project differently? Where can you reduce expenses and save time? Can you make it simpler or reduce steps? Would you do the project at all if your resources were cut in half?
Going through the questions above can lead to so many leaps forward in a project. If you would cut 20% of the project because it’s not worth it in light of less budget, why are you even doing it? It’s clearly not essential so is it wasted time with the larger budget as well?
All too often we plow ahead with ‘great’ ideas without truly diving into their worth relative to our life and our overall goals. We can eek out a bit of time here and there to work on the idea, so of course we should. Again this is a faulty assumption and our first answer to anything new should be ‘no’. Only once convinced that we can’t do without the idea or feature do we say ‘yes’ to it.
This brings to mind the ‘hell yes’ sentiment from Derek Sivers.
Those of you who often over-commit or feel too scattered may appreciate a new philosophy I’m trying:
If I’m not saying “HELL YEAH!” about something, then I say ‘no’.
Meaning: When deciding whether to commit to something, if I feel anything less than, “Wow! That would be amazing! Absolutely! Hell yeah!” – then my answer is no. – Hell yeah
How many things do we apply a simple ‘yes’ to because it feels easier on the moment to acquiesce to the request than say no and experience some momentary social awkwardness?
Stop that and move to ‘no’ or ‘hell yeah!’
On communication and networking
Rhone doesn’t just take on material possessions — he takes on the communication lines we allow ourselves. Is it worth allowing notifications on your device? Is it truly an effective use of your time to check email every 10 minutes?
Treat your email as sacredly as you do anything else that requires the high value un-replenishable resource that is your time and attention. Do not allow things in that are not worth it.
Reserve specific times each day to check and respond to email and do so only during those times.
For years I’ve been doing the same and recently I’ve added that I schedule all my email sending. I may check my email at 10 a.m. but all outgoing emails are scheduled to send at 4 p.m. For me this means that I can check it at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. but not have a constant flood of back and forth (which Rhone also rightly speaks against). With this practice the fabled Inbox 0 is easily achieved almost every day of every week, all year.
You can have this too by simply changing your inbox and not letting it rule your life. I’ve written about my process before and it still remains almost exactly the same. Email is so seductive in that it feels productive without actually pushing most projects forward. It steals you from your own day as you put out the fires that people send you.
Take the advice found in Enough and you’ll cut the stress out of email.
This excellent short read has much more to it than I could cite in a single blog article. From evaluating the purpose of our tools and making sure each tool we add has a specific purpose, to the fear we deal with as we look at disconnection, to the price of ‘free’, Patrick Rhone provides much for anyone to think about. Take some time and read Enough. Leave yourself time to evaluate how your life operates in light of the essays provided. You may just make some changes, and you’ll certainly be challenged.