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,…
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)
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.
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.