leek: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] leek at 11:17am on 15/06/2011
I hope this is an OK examination of what "enough" means.



A few months ago, I quit my job. It was a terrible job. It shouldn't have been a terrible job, but that's how it ended up. I couldn't deal with the stress anymore, so I left it with the hopes of supporting myself with my art. So far, it has worked out fine.

At the end of the month, I'm only a little bit behind where I was with my full-time job. I'm not making as much as I was, income-wise, but I spend less on convenience food because I work at home and work hours which accommodate, you know, eating. I spend less on gas for my car (and am just running it less, which is win-win). And I love it.

When I tell the people in my life about this change, I get the same response. Are you going to be OK? Are you making enough?

What is enough, in terms of business? Walmart is our cultural model of business success. That means making as much as you possibly can and becoming upwardly mobile. This model of success means earning more money than you could make at a traditional job. That model isn't my model. My business is a success if I can continue to survive on the same level as before. The extra, the "better" which makes self-employment so appealing, comes from having freedom in my life, and from knowing my labor is shaping something tangible for my own future.

We have such a skewed version of enough. "Enough," for a business owner, means something very different than what it means for an individual. When I was hired to my last job, I received congratulations from my friends and family, because my success was measurable (and basically fixed) in the form of income from the moment I received a callback. When I quit that job to start a business, I received tales of caution and offers of help, because success in business is supposed to mean exorbitance and I clearly could not be guaranteed such a definition of success from the outset. Even if I make as much money at my business as I would have made at my traditional job, it isn't really considered success.

I think this idea of enough in the context of business is something which intimidates a lot of people away from trying something on their own. We've been sold the idea of abundance as enoughness. This is a difficult level to reach of success without the privilege of already being sort of successful to begin with.

But enough means just that: enough. For me, it means getting my bills paid. It means having enough food in the house. It doesn't have to mean anything more than that. And by accepting a different level of "enough" in my business life, I've been able to get to enough in my emotional life. And that is so much more important to me.

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