How much is enough? And where do you stop?
It’s easy to get all wrapped up in this whole concept of passive income and how smart it seems.
Yet, you can work yourself crazy if you’re not careful. You can work too much, do too much? And even vacation too much.
There’s a comic strip called Calvin and Hobbes
Obviously, many of you have read it. In one panel, Calvin is ramping up for Christmas and so is Hobbes. Calvin asks Hobbes, he says, “What did you get on your list for Santa for Christmas?” Hobbes says, “I asked him for a tuna sandwich,” and Calvin goes ballistic. He’s like, “How could you do that?! I asked him for a rocket launcher, a train,” and he brings up a list that’s a mile long.
Of course, the scene shifts to the day that’s Christmas Day and Calvin is stomping around the house shouting, “I’m going to sue Santa!” Obviously, because he’s got nothing and there’s Hobbes, ever the philosopher and saying, “Well, I got my tuna sandwich.”
At this point, I turn to people and ask them, “Do you know what your tuna sandwich is?”
Part 1: The Power of Enough
One of the things that probably drives us crazy is this keeping up with the Joneses. A good example would be just the three month vacation, so let’s say you take three months off this year. Then what do you do next year? Do you take four months off? What about the year after next? Six months off? I could go on, but how long would I go on? Six, eight, ten, twelve? What is the limit?
When we run our businesses, one of the quests is just customers.
We want more and more and more customers and the reason for more and more customers is not because we love more and more customers, but because it represents money and it represents more money and more money and more money.
For me, money is like fuel. It’s like putting fuel in a car. It’s finite. You have a fuel tank and you fill it up and then as it empties itself out, you make sure that you never run out of the fuel, but you don’t go out there and you store up more and more and more and more because there is a price to pay and that price is that the whole thing might just blow up in your face one day.
Part 2: What is Your Enough?
So we had to work out our own tuna sandwich. At Psychotactics, we had to define what was our enough. For instance, we have a membership site at 5000bc.com and when you go to 5000bc, you’ll find that our membership hasn’t dramatically increased from the year 2003, 2004. Considering the year that we are in right now, you’d say, “What’s happened?”, but the point is that we don’t have to double or treble the number of members that we have currently.
Sure, some members leave and you have to replace those members with other members, but there isn’t enough. There is actually a benchmark at 5000bc of how many members we’re willing to accept.
The reason is very simple. It’s like having kids around the place.
I mean, you have x number of kids and you can handle them, you can look after them, but if you have an enormous number, you can’t really give them your attention. The same thing applies to our courses. We do an article writing course.
We do a cartooning course. We do copyrighting courses. We do a lot of courses online and we always have waiting lists. Now, when you consider that some of the courses are $3,000 or $5,000, it’s very easy to sneak in a few and make another 10, 20, $30,000. Who’s going to ask you? Who’s going to say, “Hey, you’ve got three or four more.”
Who’s going to say that? No one’s going to say that. Still, we have a limit.
We have our enough.
If you come to a workshop like any workshop that we have; we don’t have them very often because we know what is our enough, but when we do have a workshop, you have a maximum of thirty-five people in the room. Could we get more than thirty-five people in a room? Of course we could, but at thirty-five, we stop because once it goes beyond thirty-five, you stop becoming a teacher and you start becoming a preacher. It just becomes a blah blah session. You can’t really help people.
At least when it comes to work, we have our courses, our workshops, our membership sites. It’s all based on a factor of enough, of a limit, a fuel tank and we’re not going to overfill that tank.
You might say that well, it’s easy for you because you are already established. You’ve been in this business for over twelve years. What about me who’s just starting out? The point is that our workshops, our courses, our membership site, they had these limits right at the start. It wasn’t something we figured out along the way and while we did really well at work stuff, we didn’t really figure out our vacation bit.
Part 3: The Concept of Vacation
When we started, we figure nine months of work and three months of vacation seems like a fair deal, but we didn’t understand what the concept of the three months vacation was all about. We overdid it.
Now, you’d say how can you overdo a vacation? But you can. The first year we took a vacation was in 2004. We had just started out business towards the end of 2002, so within a year of starting up, we just decided that’s it. We’re going to take a three month vacation and we took three months off and it drove us crazy. We weren’t enjoying that time that we were supposed to spend because it seemed endless. It seemed like we had to fill in those days.
Then of course when you come back from the vacation, there’s this big void. You’ve not been working for so long, you don’t feel like working anymore or for a very long time, so we had to juggle it a bit. We had to go okay, let’s try six weeks and we tried six weeks and six weeks was too long. Then we tried four weeks and that was too long. Three weeks seemed just right, so three weeks plus a week of going back and forth to whichever place, so we never go directly to a place, we’d stop over for a couple of days. On the way back, we’d stop over a couple of days, so we’re away one month at a time. We realise what is enough: Three weeks plus a week of travel and that is enough.
But it’s really crazy to have a running tally that continues to increase.
You’re continuing to add holidays or money or whatever to where you’re just putting in more and more fuel into that tank. For what reason? While I’m an information junkie – I just love information. I’m learning in design and Photoshop and my camera, which is the X100, that’s a Fuji film. At the same point, I’ll be tackling lettering and studying some stuff on learning, etc., but even that has that point of enough.
Often when I’m talking about how I go for a walk with my iPhone loaded with audio books and podcasts and stuff and people think well, you must be doing that all the time; you’re completely crazy. Yes, of course, a person like that would be completely crazy, but today I was listening to Billy Joel and all of this summer, I will be listening to Andrea Bocelli, so you have to understand what is enough.
This brings us full circle to Calvin and Hobbes. Sometimes, we just slip into the Calvin mode. We overdo stuff. We are built to overdo stuff. We want to be part of the human race where we’re always going to just push our comfort zone quite a bit actually, so we always have to get into the Calvin mode and then decide I want to be like Hobbes sometimes. In fact, I want to be like Hobbes a lot. I want a tuna sandwich.
So what’s your action plan?
It’s simple, really. Think about it. How many customers do you want? How many people do you want at your workshop? How much money do you want to make from now to whenever, just a finite amount. Maybe even how much silence do you need? Everything with definition becomes a fuel tank and you fill it and you’re happy and you have enough.
Coming up next, we have the Bikini Principle.
Interesting topic, isn’t it? It’s appropriate because it’s summer here in New Zealand. I know it’s freezing in other parts of the world, but it’s appropriate here. We’re going to find out exactly what is this bikini principle and how does it apply to stuff that’s not related to the beach at all?
We learned a very good lesson when we were selling The Brain Audit about this Bikini Principle and it has stayed with me. It was one of the most read posts when we first had the consumption blog which no longer exists because there were too many blogs to manage, but it was one of the most read posts ever.