October 24, 2007
More is infinite. There is no completion, no arrival possible. Having gained more, there is still more to gain. Having accomplished more, there may be no more satisfaction; yet there is more to accomplish. We are quite accustomed to the concept of more. Since childhood, we have each learned to reach for more. More brings more fulfillment and satisfaction, we learn. Still, there is always more.
We have quite naturally progressed in our search for more. We started with natural biological drives for more milk and more loving. Early on, we discovered the euphoric feeling delivered by sugar. At the same time, we discovered money could bring us more of that sugar and that rush. The addictive link between feeling good, sugar and money was established early on. Looking at it this way, we may recognize that more is an addiction in our lives.
As adults we are still hooked on more. We work more. We try to bring more money into our lives. We then feel we deserve to spend more in order to have more. We commit more of our precious life's time to the addictive cycle of work and spend. And we don't do this all by ourselves! Our society, our cultural environment, urges us along in this cycle of more and more.
The marketing or development department of every organization you have ever engaged with, profit or not-for-profit, sees more as it's goal. There has to be more market share attributed to the organization and that has to translate into more revenue and more profit or more services. The market price of the stock must be rising more and more. Organizations spend a large proportion of their annual budget on marketing and advertising in order to attract more sales revenues. We are inundated with the urging wherever we turn and we, as a people, respond to the call for spending more. Yet, more is still infinite. And this cycle of more is not healthy for us, for our children or for our planet. So let's get a better handle on it! The Fulfillment Curve
When we examine The Fulfillment Curve, as introduced by Joe Dominguez in his seminar Transforming Your Relationship with Money , we see graphically the life cycle of more. Initially, when we spend more money we actually do experience more fulfillment. These are our base-line expenditures such as the food, shelter, and clothing needed for our survival, our needs.
When we are old enough to work and earn money, we discover anew the pleasures of more as we purchase our first car, first apartment, or first special outfit. While we are spending more of our time to earn that money and we are spending more of our money on these comforts, the fulfillment is there, to be sure. Remember the first car you ever bought? Can you recall your joy in owning it? What kind of car was it? What color was it? How much did you pay for it?
With full-time work, marriage, home-ownership and children the more cycle expands. In this part of the bell-curve, it takes more money and more time to achieve the same thrill. And ultimately the day-to-day routine offers little thrill.
Before long, the curve starts to head down again. Even though more money is being spent, it is taking more and more to gain some sense of fulfillment. The second, third, fourth and fifth cars just don't hold the same excitement as the first. The costs of ownership, such as maintaining, storing, insuring, learning to operate, and disposing responsibly, begin to weigh on us. The satisfaction is more elusive even though we continue to follow our tried-and-true formula of spending more to achieve more fulfillment.
We are so programmed to more and more; we keep at it in our belief that more money will bring more satisfaction. We may find ourselves deeply in debt, very exhausted and burdened with responsibilities.
What can we do about it? As with most personal growth, understanding the phenomenon is the beginning. Know, also, that our addiction to more is not something we were born with. We have grown into it and, with understanding and determination; we can get out of it. We can start looking for enough in our lives. In maintaining a healthy weight, we learn to identify that feeling of satisfaction or fullness before we have eaten too much.
Let's apply that wisdom to all aspects of life. Let's ask ourselves: Is my home the right size to provide satisfaction and comfort without overwhelming burdens of high mortgage payments and maintenance? Am I using an appropriate share of the earth's resources? How many pieces of digital equipment will be enough? Can I find a better balance?
We can find enough!
LU BAUER, CPA is a money counselor and financial advisor in Brunswick, Maine. She is available for consultations (207-729-0531) with those who want to improve their relationship with money and better understand their business. Visit www.moneybalancingact.com for other articles helpful to individuals, families and owners of small businesses. Bauer was featured in the January 2007 issue of Down East Magazine .