How Much is Enough?


I attended a Catholic grammar school in Rochester. One time, during seventh grade, my teacher, Sister Roman, became exasperated at my latest impudent question. Her face reddened, and her jowls shook. “Boy,” she sternly warned,

“I’ve had just enough!”


Sister Roman understood the limits of her tolerance. She defined, at least for herself, how much was enough. Good for her, not so good for me.


We base many life decisions on our assessment of, “How much is enough?” When there is no universal standard or guideline, no metric, no rule or law, we fall back on our own judgment. Each must decide for self.


As the year begins, I’m inviting you to get clearer about how much is enough, in some of the most important dimensions of life.


Here are eight key areas to consider:


Time

How much time do you reckon you have to live? Put a specific figure on it. What uses of your time are most important to you? How would you grade yourself on how wisely you use your time? What uses of time heighten your anxiety and worry? How do you spend your time with those most important to you? How well do you balance task time and relationship time?


Money

How much money is enough? Come up with a concrete figure. What beliefs and assumptions justify that figure? What is your plan for the money you save? Are you more of “A penny saved is a penny earned” or a “Nothing ventured, nothing gained” kind of person? What does the pursuit of money affect your anxiety, balance, reflection, or relationship attention?


Yesses

Do you say “Yes” often enough, or too often? What percent of your “Yes” responses are automatic vs. thoughtful? Are you able to give an honest “No” when it makes good sense to do so? How common is it for you to say, “Let me think about that?” What is the cost to you of compulsive helpfulness?


Possessions

Do you have enough material possessions? What do you need that you don’t already have? What’s the difference between a need and a want? What are the benefits – to you and your offspring – of living lean? Do you tend more towards hoarding things or giving away what is unwanted or unneeded? How often do you interact with those who are materially poor?


Social Media

How much social media exposure is enough? In what ways does the use of social media strengthen – or weaken – your most valued relationships? Is your use of social media more an intentional strategy or a compulsive distraction? How effectively do you sift non-fiction from fiction on social media? With whom do you share your thoughts and feelings person-to-person, outside the lens of social media?


Remote Work

How much time working from home is enough? What would signal to you that you are spending too much time – or not enough time – working from home? What are the predictable relationship costs of working from home? What are the relationship benefits? What matters most in your work-from-home decisions: Productivity? Convenience? Human connectedness?


Food

At each meal you eat, how much is enough? What percentage of your food consumption is based on conscious choice vs. availability? How much of your food goes to waste? How often do you eat out – or take out? How much of your food do you, or could you, produce yourself? What are the costs and benefits to you of your current food consumption patterns?


Distraction

How many hours per day do you spend on mindless distraction? Assuming some distraction is relaxing and necessary, how much distraction is enough for you? What are your primary forms of distraction? How does a distraction become an addiction? What’s the difference?

It seems reasonable that if you cannot discern when enough is enough in the areas cited above, you will be more likely to err on the side of too much or too little.

The invitation is to take time at the start of the year to sharpen your self-awareness. Deciding for yourself how much is enough contributes to exceptional leadership, whether you are leading a business, a family, or a community organization.