At a party given by a billionaire on Shelter Island, Kurt Vonnegut informs his pal, Joseph Heller, that their host, a hedge fund manager, had made more money in a single day than Heller had earned from his wildly popular novel Catch-22 over its whole history.
Heller responds: “Yes, but I have something he will never have… enough.”
I was stunned by the simple eloquence of that word – stunned for two reasons: first, because I have been given so much in my own life and, second, because Joseph Heller couldn’t have been more accurate.
For a critical element of our society, including many of the wealthiest and most powerful among us, there seems to be no limit today on what enough entails.
This story illustrates the question that we are not answering, let alone asking enough.
When is enough enough?
When is enough money enough?
When is enough friends enough?
When is enough attention enough?
When are enough social followers enough?
When are enough shoes, bags, clothes, watches, albums, cars, houses, books, degrees, _____ [insert your thing] enough?
Having more than you need can be a liability masquerading as an advantage, and no sense of “enough” can look like ambition but often leads you over the edge.
The idea of having “enough” might look like conservatism, leaving opportunity and potential on the table.
I do not think that’s right.
“Enough” is realising that the opposite, an insatiable appetite for more, will push you to the point of regret.
The only way to know how much food you can eat is to eat until you are sick. Few try this because vomiting sucks more than any meal is good.
For some reason the same logic does not translate to business and investing, and many will only stop reaching for more when they break and are forced to.
It is until you are burned out, until you have lost things due to excessive risks, it is until you lose close people around due to your obsessive habits, you will realise the dangers of not having enough.
The sad thing about not having enough, is that until you decide your enough, you will keep chasing and never arriving.
Source: Story taken from The Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel.