“Clutter isn’t just the stuff in your closet. It’s anything that gets between you and the life that you want to be living.” ~ Peter Walsh
“Waste lies not in the number of possessions but in the failure to enjoy them.” ~ Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin, Your Money or Your Life
Do you have “enough”? This is a two-sided question. If you don’t have a reserve of resources in all areas of your life, you spend your time scrambling to get your basic needs met. On the other hand, if you keep amassing resources beyond your reserves, you end up giving most of your time and life source to accumulating.
Introducing the Fulfillment Curve
In Your Money Or Your Life, the late Joe Dominguez and his partner Vicki Robin describe the relationship between money and fulfillment. They include a graph of the “fulfillment curve“. (Dominguez and Robin, 22) In this graph, the x or horizontal axis represents money spent. The y or vertical axis measures fulfillment.
At first, as money spent increases, there is a sharp rise in fulfillment until we reach the “Survival” point. From there, the rate of increase in fulfillment slows somewhat as more money is spent, until we reach the “Comforts” point. From that point, as more money is spent, the rate of growth in fulfillment slows even more as we move to the “Luxuries” point. Then, the fulfillment curve peaks and as the rate of money spent continues to move along the x-axis, the rate of fulfillment begins dropping as more luxuries are added. We continue spending more and more while our fulfillment becomes less and less, until the end of the curve which is the point of death.
Joe and Vicki have a name for the peak of the curve, where the amount of fulfillment in relationship to the amount of money spent is at its highest. They call the peak “enough”. The interesting thing is that you don’t have to start down the other slope of the curve. You can remain at the peak, at “enough”. “At the peak of the Fulfillment Curve, we have enough. Enough for our survival. Enough comforts. And even enough little ‘luxuries’. We have everything we need; there’s nothing extra to weigh us down, distract or distress us, nothing we’ve bought on time, have never used and are slaving to pay off. Enough is a fearless place. A trusting place. An honest and self-observant place. It’s appreciating and fully enjoying what money brings into your life and yet never purchasing anything that isn’t needed and wanted.” (Dominguez and Robin, 23)
Abundance or accumulation?
Sometimes we get out of balance, spending like mad in some areas while neglecting other important areas of our lives. I once was shown the closet of an acquaintance I was visiting. I say “closet” but it was actually an extra bedroom that had been converted into a huge walk-in closet. The closet held boxes and boxes of shoes, several shelves with stacks and stacks of jeans and slacks, shelf upon shelf of jewelry, and racks of clothes. Some of the items still had the price tags on them.
Perhaps this represented “enough” to her. But I suspect she was moving down the slippery slope on the backside of the fulfillment curve. And I wondered at the time if she had “enough” in some other areas of her life, would she need so many clothes? (Of course, I was seeing things from my own head. She may be perfectly content and happy.)
Get your needs met.
Having “enough” means having reserves in all areas of your life. Until you get your basic physical and psychological needs met, it is difficult to concentrate on your higher purpose. If all the air were to be suddenly sucked out of the room, you would think about getting air, nothing else. If you hadn’t had anything to drink in several days, you would concentrate on getting water, nothing else. When taking care of your physical needs consumes most of your time, you can’t think about your higher calling.
But when you take steps to get your physical and psychological needs met automatically, you free up time and mental energy to devote to achievement and self-actualization. How do you get your needs met automatically? By building reserves of the things you need. By building and keeping reserves of time, money, supplies, resources, people and love, you are no longer in survival mode. You free up the energy that you spent to survive and use it to grow and thrive. And by building reserves, you know you have “enough”. You don’t have to continue amassing, you can move on to enjoying other things.
Here are some areas to examine to see if you have “enough”. This list isn’t inclusive by any means, but it can get you started. $$s does not necessarily = fulfillment. But having a reserve in every area of your life frees you up for doing the things (including finding meaningful ways to earn a living) that will bring fulfillment. You can use this as a checklist, as affirmations, or as a way to begin thinking of the areas in your life where you need to get and keep a reserve.
- I have no expectations (no hidden needs) of my friends and family—I expect nothing from them.
- I keep my gas tank at least half full.
- I arrive 10 minutes early to every meeting or appointment.
- I don’t tailgate, run yellow lights, or speed. I let other drivers in.
- I put relationships ahead of results.
- I am efficient with things and effective with people.
- My life and my environment are free of clutter.
- I have $100 in my wallet that I never touch.
- have a reserve fund of $500 in ready cash for minor emergencies.
- I pay credit cards in full each month.
- I tithe 10 percent to church, charity, friends, or those who have made me successful.
- I “eat to live”. I only eat foods that nourish me.
- I attract people rather than going after them.
- I speak straight, always and appropriately. I don’t hold back—even on the little stuff.
- I put my relationships far ahead of results.
- I can afford to have others be right; they are.
- I efficiently and effectively handle and resolve all the “stuff” that comes up. I keep my “Things I’m Tolerating” list to a minimum.
- I focus on outcomes, not methods.
- I am not attached to any result.
- I trust a higher power.
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Excelerated reserves — building your reserves in all areas — is one step in creating your Excelerated life, a life of well-being, meaning, and purpose.
Dominguez, Joe and Vicki Robinson. Your Money Or Your Life. New York: Penquin Books, 1992, 2008
Leonard, Thomas. The 28 Laws Of Attraction. New York: Scribner, 1998