YOLO: When Is It Time To Stop Wanting More And To Start Enjoying What You Have?

When Is It Time To Stop Wanting More And To Start Enjoying What You Have?

If you are for ever setting goals to improve your life, one after the other, when do you stop and start enjoying what you have?

Somebody asked me this very same question a few years ago after a talk I gave about Life Coaching and Goal Setting.

And she was so spot on!

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to improve yourself and your life.

On the contrary.

and … I do believe that goal setting is a very powerful tool to define and help you reach what you want.

But what if what we want is always more… and more…

We’re Programmed To Always Want More

We live in a world that functions on greed. Our very economic system (Capitalism) is based on always wanting more.

Companies need to sell more, improve their profits, grow. Often without any consideration to the cost (cheap labor in unsafe working conditions, landfills full of products expressly designed to become obsolete, pollution).

Very clever marketing tools are used to prey on us: we need the latest, fastest, most fashionable items. Mobiles, electronics, clothes are perfect examples of this.

Then come the material symbols associated with success: cars, houses,…

In our lives, we also aspire for more: better job, more income, children going to the best school,…

But we don’t have to improve ourselves ALL THE TIME!

When Is Wanting More Too Much?

You will know when wanting more is starting to affect you if:

  • you’re never contented (as soon as you’ve achieved a goal you start planning for another (bigger) goal without taking a moment to enjoy anything)
  • you constantly feel under pressure to achieve bigger and better things
  • you start using unethical means to achieve your goals (getting more gives you such pleasure that it does not matter how you achieve it)
“A shrewd man has to arrange his interests in order of importance and deal with them one by one but often our greed upsets this order and makes us run after so many things at once that through over-anxiety to obtain the trivial, we miss the most important.” François de La Rochefoucauld

From Quantity To Quality

I believe the key to stopping wanting more is to change your mindset from quantity to quality.

Between working all hours in a high power, extremely well-paid job and making a decent salary in a less time-demanding job that lets you see your family, which would you choose?

Between working and looking after your baby, which would you choose?

Between another game console and your child joining the local football team, which would you choose?

It is YOUR life and you should decide (as opposed to letting peer pressure or social conventions decide) what is best for you.

Only you know you completely.  No other human will ever come close.

When I stopped working to look after my baby (and didn’t go back to work after baby number 2), I got some comments about what a waste my studies had been.

But what I wanted was to enjoy seeing my children grow and to have a real day-to-day influence on who they would become … not a nanny …. me. That was much more important than putting my studies to good use for companies (which, by the way, were much more interested in their profits than me).

So I made a choice and stuck to it: I’d be the best mom I could be.

Now they’re nearly teenagers and I don’t regret my choice for a second.

Had I continued to work, I’d be on a very, very comfortable salary (probably 5 to10 times what I make today). But it’s NOT about big numbers.

Our current income is enough for us to live comfortably.

And I do not have the stress that would come with the big job, nor the responsibilities, nor the working hours.

I do have though an unflinching commitment and dedication to being there for my children when they need me (it’s a little more on their terms now that they’re pre-teens and I respect that 🙂

From Greed To Contentment

When I stopped working, the one person I expected to be disappointed was my father. He’d been so proud of what I had achieve in my career.

I was dreading the day I told him about my choice.

His answer came as a surprise: ‘You’re right, Isabelle! Enjoy your kids, it goes so fast. I wish I’d done the same.’

He’s been supportive ever since of all our non-conventional life choices (moving to the country, scaling down, becoming self-employed) and he’s given me a fantastic gift: being able to enjoy what I have without remorse or guilt.

I am so grateful for what I have.

“One interesting thing about greed is that although the underlying motive is to seek satisfaction, the irony is that even after obtaining the object of your desire, you are still not satisfied. The true antidote of greed is contentment. If you have a strong sense of contentment, it doesn’t matter whether you obtain the object or not; either way, you are still content.” Dalai Lama

Final Words

Are there still things I could improve in my life? Yep!  Worry less about little things, get fitter, enjoy even more what we have.

Not everyone is the same. Your contentment level will be different to mine but I bet it’s not all the way at the top.

It’s there, somewhere, closer than you think.


YOLO: When Is It Time To Stop Wanting More And To Start Enjoying What You Have? — 3 Comments

  1. I ask myself this question too, oh, and I totally get the part about spending time with the baby. My only solution to this is to plan the day in such a way that you have a few hours carved out for activities not related to your work that you enjoy.

  2. Hey Jeevan,

    Thanks a lot for your comment.

    I totally get what you’re saying: running a large business and making a lot of money can lead you to help more people. It’s a very commendable idea and I really wish you the best.

    I’d like to be more like you but, for the moment, I do it on a small scale, helping people around me, volunteering where it makes a difference at a local level.

    As for the new watch… well done for not giving in! I haven’t been wearing a watch for at least 10 years. Most people in our village don’t wear a watch either… To me, that’s a little luxury: being able to lose yourself in the moment without worrying about the time 🙂

  3. Great post, Isabelle 🙂

    I try to answer this question every day. When should I stop?

    I’ve had a good life, no a great life that I have enjoyed so far. A part of me wonders why I should go on further. I mean, I have had a good life, should I really try to go forward? Do I want to? Would it make me happier? Or would it all be a waste of time?

    On the other hand, I know I have a good life. But, there are so many people who are less fortunate than I am. I would like to help them (Right now, I am leaning towards this one. My purpose is to help others and I have planned how I can do it).

    (The plan is to start a business..once I am successful, I could do more to help others). Of course, I have big ambitions, make my business the largest in the world (this way, I could do a lot more, perhaps help a lot more people?).

    But, building that business is a want. I can still help others, without doing all this. But, I want to do follow this plan, because I think it will make me happier.

    Hopefully, it will 🙂

    I still struggle with managing my wants (one of my goals is to conquer my own mind, tame my desires). To an extent, I am successful.

    For instance: Today, I saw a watch at Walmart. I love watches, especially since I have got one in many of my birthdays, and this watch looked cool (had some cool features like ability to store multiple time zones). But, I thought about it, I already have two working watches. Why should I spend money on buying this one?

    Eventually, I decided not to get it. I don’t really need to know what the time is in Paris, or London or somewhere else. I am content with the watch I have. But, even now, I still feel that feeling – regret perhaps – of not buying the watch. But, I am glad that I was able to fight the urge.

    Anyways, thank you for the wonderful post, Isabelle 🙂 Appreciate it! Hope you had a wonderful weekend!

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