How Much Is Enough?
Tom Brady, after winning his third Super Bowl, famously said to himself, "there's got to be more than this." He kept thinking that he’d feel different, satisfied, or accomplished after winning. And he didn’t. He achieved everything he ever hoped for. Everything he devoted himself to. More than he could have imagined. And yet, he felt unsatisfied.
Lloyd Blankfein, the former CEO of Goldman Sachs, recently stated in an interview that he's "not rich." His net worth is estimated to be $1.1 billion.
This is a great paradox of life and progress. We are driven in life by what we would like to have — more money, a better house, the next job promotion, the next life stage (marriage, kids, grandkids, retirement, etc.).
So in a sense, our discontent with the present drives our pursuits and ambitions.
But you have to be careful to avoid deceiving yourself into believing that you will feel fulfilled once you receive your desires or achieve your goals. You will not.
You can have all the wealth, status, and fame in the world, and it won’t make you happy or satisfied. The list of miserable rich, successful, and famous people is long.
So if the people who already have everything that we think will make us happy and satisfied are not actually happy and satisfied, what's the point? Is there hope for the rest of us?
Fortunately, there is hope. Contentment doesn’t arrive through the improvement of your circumstances. You can have not a penny to your name and be content.
Contentment is not achieved by any means other than pursuing it directly. It is a practice to be cultivated. It is an end unto itself.
In financial planning, we spend a great deal of time helping people achieve their financial goals and dreams. However, if you aren't pursuing contentment and fulfillment while pursuing your goals, once they are achieved, you likely won't feel the way you think you will.
If you aren’t content with what you have, you won’t be content with what you’d like to have.
Just ask Tom Brady and Lloyd Blankfein.
So don’t let yourself be fooled into thinking the achievement of your life ambitions will bring contentment. Rather make the pursuit of contentment one of your life’s ambitions.
If you want to get your journey toward contentment started, pick up these books and let me know what you think:
The Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt
The Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel
Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert