For a very long time, I have been afraid of not having enough.
Not having enough money to pay my rent.
Not having enough of a “rainy day fund”.
Not having enough time to accomplish my goals.
Not having enough talent to be successful.
Not having enough focus to master a skill.
The list goes on and on.
I have lived a life where I have rarely gone without the things that I *wanted* let alone needed. Even so, I am afraid that if I make the wrong career choices, or if the economy changes, or if my profession is made redundant then I could be plunged into a state of not having enough.
More importantly, since I have been an adult, I have made many important decisions based on these fears of not having enough. I have sacrificed living life on my own terms in order to have “security” – to have a paycheque so that I will have enough money, to have a “good career job” so that I will feel good about myself and so that people I care about will look at me and say “good for Darby, look how successful she is.” I am beholden not only to my job, but to a system that says that I have to work harder in order to consume more so that I can have enough. Except that enough never comes, and the consumption just begets more consumption to stave off my fears of not having enough.
I have decided that I must face these fears of not having enough.
Lately I’ve been reading a lot about simplicity and minimalism on blogs like Zen Habits, mnmlist, The Minimalists, Becoming Minimalist and more. “What is minimalism?” you ask. Great question! Minimalism is the practice of intentionally living with only the things you really need. Alternatively, you could describe minimalism as a process of stripping away clutter and unimportant things in order to focus your energy entirely on the truly essential.
I have concluded that truly knowing what is “enough” is an understanding and a habit that needs to be developed and practiced like any other. I see minimalism as a great tool for stripping away the unnecessary and focusing only on the important. By learning what I can live without and how to appreciate what I have, I hope to conquer all of the fears that I’ve listed and more.
In order to conquer my fears I need to take control of three areas of my life: my finances, my time, and my mind.
I will address each of these areas in later posts. For now I will briefly discuss finances since they seem the easiest place to start.
In terms of having “enough” in a strictly material sense, we all face a simple equation:
$ needed for essentials
$ needed for non-essentials
$ needed (a.k.a. enough)
The tricky part is defining essentials and non-essentials. We live in a world saturated with advertising that seeks to teach us that whatever product they are selling is an essential. Our consumerist culture perpetuates the idea that “the person who dies with the most toys wins.” In the end though, we all die and most of these toys don’t bring us happiness.
I think that some non-essentials can create value and bring joy to my life. Most non-essentials; however, are just clutter. Clutter drains my financial resources because I paid for these items, and now I pay to live in a big condo so I have space for all of them. Clutter also drains my mental resources because I am constantly cleaning these things, caring for them, and worrying about where I’ve put them.
If I take a hard, honest look at my life there are many places where I have internalized media messages about what sorts of things are “essential” and what sort of non-essentials create value. De-programming myself to understand what is truly essential and valuable in my life will not be easy. I am committed to doing it in order to conquer my own fear of not having enough. I will replace the habit of constantly striving for more with the habit of being happy with what I have. I will find a new confidence and contentedness rooted in knowing that I have enough.
I will be writing about my journey. I hope that you will follow along if you feel that my words create value for you.