As the manager of an information technology department I’ve had my fair share of meetings with employees. From annual reviews to project status meetings, inevitably this statement comes up: “I just haven’t had time”.
That’s not a knock on busy employees, but very often that employee isn’t being entirely truthful. In fact, some of their coworkers are much busier but say that they feel like they have plenty of time to complete their tasks. How is that?
Parkinson’s Law is an adage that states the following: “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”. I’ve found that law to be absolutely true, with very few exceptions. Even a hardworking employee who is ultra-productive will eventually relax when they realize that “there’s no rush”, which means that when the deadline looms they no longer have margin, in case some unexpected task comes their way.
When I talk with friends and family about financial goals, standards of living or jobs, I’ll often hear the term comfortable living pop up, usually as it relates to the goals they have for themselves. When I ask them to describe a comfortable living the answers vary quite a bit.
One thing I’ve noticed is that “a comfortable living” always seems to equal “more income than I have right now“. (Has anyone else noticed that, or am I over-generalizing?)
I’ve written in the past about the importance of defining enough for ourselves, and I think the same principle applies here. For so many folks, a comfortable living will never be reached because they haven’t defined it in concrete terms. There’s always something out there that will make them more comfortable than they currently are. Contentment is hard to find.
For myself I’ve noticed that there’s never an end to my list of wants. Last month I actually told my wife “I think I could go the rest of the year without making any major purchases. I just want to keep the status quo for a bit.” Yeah, a month later and I can tell you 5 things that I’ve just HAD to own. If I were to pull the trigger on those items my “comfortable living” state is immediately in danger of becoming decidedly uncomfortable.
Have you taken time to think about what would constitute a comfortable living, or is the phrase just another way of saying “more”?
This post originally appeared at FIJourney.com, a blog discussing financial independence topics.