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What even is enough?

It’s August and I'm still on vacation.

I have taken more time off this month than I have in the last two years to take care of personal matters and to spend uninterrupted time with my extended family.

We went to the beach, I read in the backyard hammock my husband installed, and I slept late. I put an out-of-office message on and spent 12 days without a laptop.

Still, one thing I have noticed during this time off is that my mind wanders back to thoughts I’m nearly embarrassed about. Thoughts like:

  • Is this what rest is supposed to feel like?

  • Is this as rested as I can get?

  • Am I doing rest well?

This is the painful, ugly pervasiveness of the achievement paradigm at work.

Even at rest, I can fall into a pattern of asking myself: "how am I doing?"

There’s a story that the celebrated writers Joseph Heller and Kurt Vonnegut attended a summer party hosted by a wealthy investment manager. As they admired the lavish home and spectacular event, Vonnegut is said to have commented that their host for the evening made more in a single day than Heller would make over the lifetime of the sales of his bestselling book, Catch-22.

That may be true”, Heller said, “but I have something he’ll never have: The knowledge that I have Enough.”

That story nearly knocks me over every time I come across it.

This is the matter of so many coaching conversations, so many meetings with executives and students, so many late nights with my dear ones over tea or a glass of wine around the fire, so much writing in my journal.

AM I DOING ENOUGH to be appreciated, valued, worthwhile, satisfied?

DO I HAVE ENOUGH to feel safe, worthy, ready?



What I know is that 'enough' is not about salary or square footage, it's not the recognition through a title, a parking spot or office location.

Oh, it's easy to fall for the trap of thinking that when we meet a professional milestone or hit a savings goal, we'll have enough, but ask anyone who is still on the treadmill of acquisition (bigger house, better title, more vacation)... the chase is endless.

Rather, 'enough' comes from personal beliefs, from felt sensation, from the inner work I'm so evangelical about.

It’s a lifetime of practice to decide what 'enough' is for ourselves and to stay true to what we discover.

It is a radical act to define ‘enough’ for ourselves.

A client ended our call this week by saying that among the things that she’s proud of is the morning and evening practice of saying to herself:

All is well. I am enough.

Does she believe it? Often, mostly.

But does she also know, like most of us, that the alternative, the worry and comparison to others, the constant checking against a list or system of measurement someone else gave us is even harder to believe in?

She sure does.


Over the next few months, as I ease my way out of extended time off, I’ll be reading and writing on these questions, and thinking out loud about them with Eric on Inside Job.

Most importantly, I’d love to engage with you on how you explore the question of ‘enough’.

Enjoy what remains of your summer, and stay well.


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