Pablo Picasso once said “I’d like to live as a poor man with lots of money.” At first that statement might make us laugh, due to the irony in it, but it gets at the heart of two important issues that are often different sides of the same coin: living simply while enjoying the small pleasures in life versus spending our life amassing money and possessions.
Like many people, I’ve experienced mornings waking up panicked, knowing that my bank account is near empty and my credit cards are pretty much maxed out. This is the less glamorous side of “living as a poor man” which is why Picasso wanted to mitigate those pressures by also being a man “with lots of money” so that he could instead focus on living life, doing what he enjoyed, spending time with those he loved rather than spending his time amassing a fortune and having to continually work harder and harder to maintain a lifestyle of pomp and circumstance.
Having enough money to feed, cloth, and shelter ourselves is critical to living life and properly caring for ourselves. But when is “enough,” enough?
After starting my own architecture firm last year, this question took particular adjustment to find balance in. I’d see all the funds pouring out of my business to fund startup costs, software licenses, hardware purchases, printers, office supplies, insurance, utilities, and advertising costs. The bills seemed endless.
At first, I tried working longer and longer each day to try and bring in more projects and more funds. Work in my industry typically doesn’t come in overnight, so this strategy was only working to make me tired, drained, and lacking time to find joy in the work I was doing and the life I was trying to build for myself, my business, and my clients.
While working hard doing what you love can be rewarding in and of itself, there is a point at which you can become so consumed by work and the bottom lines of business that you lose sight of why you started it in the first place.
Luckily, I learned to find my point of “enough.” I cleared my calendar for all Sundays and told myself, no matter what, I would no longer work seven days a week. Instead, on Sundays I would never work — not even to check emails. That small step started giving me one day a week to focus on my life, health, friends, and family.
From there I started scheduling project milestones across all my clients to end around the same time so I could take a break at certain milestones across all my projects and clients at the same time in order to truly rejuvenate and have a true break to spend time with those I love before starting the next round of projects and milestones.
Most recently this allowed me the opportunity to join my whole family in San Diego for the week around Easter. We spent our time making homemade meals together, biking around Mission Bay as a family, playing on the beach, and petting animals at the zoo. Those days focused on nothing more than feeling the wind in my hair and laughing with those I loved reminded me that we were not born to work, we were born to live.
Each morning during my vacation in San Diego, I woke up before everyone else and start working, doing what was necessary to stay on top of any urgent business. When the rest of the family began to wake up and sit down to breakfast, I’d close my laptop and put work away for the rest of the day so I could spend it with my family. Trying to cram a few more hours of billable work into a day when I’m on vacation with family is not worth any fee when time with those I love is so much more precious.
It’s important to remember that people in all types of jobs, working for all types of companies, receive vacation, sick, and holiday time off. We all need to take that time for ourselves, our health, and for those we love. No amount of business success or wealth is worth it if we’re too sick and tired at the end of our accomplishments to enjoy it.
Learn when to say enough is enough, then go enjoy the fruits of your labor and live your life to the fullest extent possible.