March 7, 2016

For the past month or so, I’ve enjoyed a slower pace with life and work. It’s felt good. I’ve had time to myself, enjoyed some downtime and rest, as well as some adventures.

This new pace has been a change from the frantic workaholism of last year. Now that I’m debt-free, I’m not in constant hustle mode and have the privilege of being more selective with clients.

I finally feel like I have a semblance of balance and am really happy with where I am at. I even calculated my final income for 2015 and it was better than I expected.

On a recent episode of Martinis and Your Money, I mentioned how weird it is to have the income I have now. I’m the person I used to be jealous of.

Three years ago, I was making $12 per hour and would kill to have the salary I have now. A few months after that I upgraded and finally got a full-time job making $30,000.

Since quitting my job in July 2014, I’ve more than doubled my income.

Since reaching my income goal, I should be ecstatic, right? If only it were that easy.

Because I’ve reached my goal, this level isn’t good enough anymore.

I need to go harder, better, faster, stronger. Peers are making even more than I am, so shouldn’t I keep pushing myself toward my goal of six figure income?

On one hand, of course I want to push myself and reach for the stars. Dream big and work hard and all that stuff. But the other part of me wants to enjoy the fact that I made it here and just be.

I can tell that my body and mind were exhausted from hustling the past five years and now that I could rest a little, I let myself. But to suddenly go from workaholic hustler to taking days off had me feeling lazy.

Now, I don’t think anyone would call me lazy, but I felt lazy. And I wondered to myself, why in the world am I beating myself up for resting and taking care of myself? Why am I not just content with the income that I have now?

After some reflection, I’ve realized we live in a world that idealizes hustling 24/7 at the expense of everything else. I’ve even been one of those people echoing those sentiments, talking about working all the time, getting no sleep, and being over stressed.

Not only that, but we’re always working towards the next level. Now that I’ve reached this income level, I need to go after even more. And then more. And more. But will it ever be enough?

Will there ever be a time where we can just be happy with where we are at, without always pushing forward? Or is there a way to push forward organically, without the pressure of feeling like you always have to be improving or striving for more?

I guess more than ever I want to practice presence and gratitude for what I have and not let jealousy or the rhetoric of the online world make me feel empty and always wanting more.

I think it’s so easy to look at your peers and see how far you have to go, rather than look at your own journey and say, “Wow, look how far I’ve come!”

But we are all on our own journeys, in our own time. Only you can decide what is enough.


Melanie is a freelance writer currently living in Portland, Oregon. She is passionate about education, financial literacy, and empowering people to take control of their finances. She writes about breaking up with debt, freelancing, and side hustle adventures at

Currently she puts more than 50% of her income towards debt, while living a frugal, fun life. In addition to her love of personal finance, art and music, she is also a karaoke master. Follow the adventure @DearDebtBlog.

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31 responses to “Will It Ever Be Enough?”

  1. Amanda says:

    Great question. I’ve been asking myself that a lot over the last couple of weeks. I gave up some side gigs to focus on my full-time job, and yet I find myself skimming through part-time job ads instead of working on my own creative writing or reading articles to enhance my teaching work. I don’t want to work at the pace that I did last year, yet I can’t help but think of the money and what it can do! My health suffered a bit, though. I wonder sometimes, too, what it would be like to put that same focus into something other than my income.
    Amanda recently posted…My Top Five Reads of the Week #7My Profile

    • Melanie says:

      I know the feeling! It’s easy to always look for the next thing instead of nurture yourself, which can take more time/not be as lucrative.

  2. Congratulations on all your success!!! I am so happy for you. Personally, I think getting out of debt is something that sets you up for all kinds of success in the future. It’s why I’m so committed to getting out of student loan debt.
    Natalie @ Financegirl recently posted…7 Ways You’re Wasting Money Without Realizing ItMy Profile

  3. My current goal is $1000/month from my blog. I feel like once I reach that goal, I’ll continue trying to make sure I reach that. But it’s completely understandable to have higher goals because you’re confident that you have what it takes.
    Shirria @ GDTH recently posted…February Side Hustle Income ReportMy Profile

    • Melanie says:

      Nice! Yeah, it’s a balance of wanting to enjoy where I’m at, but also not get complacent. But also not pushing too hard and being grateful for where I’m at in this moment.

  4. A faithful reader says:

    Your comments resonated with me and reminded me of a Ted Talk I saw on “The Happiness Advantage”

    Good post – thanks for sharing!

  5. So much word Melanie! I’m glad you have relaxed a bit and are taking are of yourself more. I’m really annoyed with people who glorify busy! PS, as I write this we are having CRAZY ass wind, thunder, and lightening in LA! Whoa! I mean earthquakes are fine, but this…??
    Tonya@Budget and the Beach recently posted…Stop Settling for Just Feeling OKMy Profile

    • Melanie says:

      Yeah, I’m really done with glorifying busy and hustling all the time. It’s not sustainable and more importantly, it’s not good for you! Oh man, I hope the weather changes by the time I arrive…

  6. Sara says:

    It is so easy to compare ourselves to how everyone else is doing and feel like we fall short. I think we need to make sure that we are taking care of ourselves first, otherwise we can get burnt out easily.
    Sara recently posted…4 Steps to a Memorable Weekend GetawayMy Profile

  7. Kristin says:

    You’re so awesome!! I have been struggling with this for a while. I never know how to say enough is enough when it comes to hustling. I’m always in work mode, but I bring it on myself. I probably need to be a little more chill 🙂
    Kristin recently posted…Online Income Report for FebruaryMy Profile

    • Melanie says:

      I was absolutely the same for the first year! Now that I’m in my second year of self-employment and debt-free, it’s time to chill a bit!

  8. Colin Ashby says:

    I remember Tonya from Budget and the Beach had a post about this a month back. So many people (myself included) have a problem with the “I’ll be happy when ______” mentality. I’m still paying off student loans so I am hustling to make more money but I have to remind myself to breath a little every now and then

    • Melanie says:

      I loved that post. It’s so true, we always think “I’ll be happy when X, Y, or Z happens”, but then we’re always searching for more. It’s key to find that balance.

  9. Liz says:

    Breathe and enjoy! No matter whether we are employed or self-employed, I’m pretty sure it’s impossible to get the A-type personality to chill just a little.

    I dream of a slower life, but have a heck of lot of work to do to get there.

    You are THERE! ENJOY!
    Liz recently posted…How a 2-hour run clarifies the mindMy Profile

  10. Mrs. CTC says:

    I was wondering the same thing a little while ago, when I heard about a woman putting her whole life and all of her means in the service of others.

    I am now focusing on paying off debt, after that I hope to gain more financial independence. But then what? When will I make the shift from improving my own life to giving back (apart from the smaller things I do now)?

    I hope I won’t be too focused on the dollar signs once I get the hang of it, and forget the bigger picture.
    Mrs. CTC recently posted…It’s not me, it’s you. An evolution of working for the manMy Profile

  11. I can relate to this so much. I have to remind myself that our goal is not to have the highest income reported on the web (not that we’re anywhere close), or to earn as much as we possibly could, at the expense of our family and other commitments. I think meeting the debt payoff goal is huge and it makes sense to shift to more balance with that out of the way. I hope you can continue navigating that balance.
    Kalie @ Pretend to Be Poor recently posted…Pretend to Be Spendy: How to Churn Credit Cards with Low ExpensesMy Profile

    • Melanie says:

      It feels so good to be in balance. I understand what you are saying, it’s so easy to push and feel like we have to do more, but it’s OUR lives. It’s up to us.

  12. Kara says:

    PREACH. I’ve seen this happen to myself and I hate it. I feel like I constantly need to be pushing forward and asking for more. Even though I’m very anti that mindset in others. For me, it comes from the fear (and the real fact) that I am really just a tip toe away from the financial brink. I don’t make a ton of money, I don’t have tens of thousands saved up. I have a small buffer. So I push and push and tell myself “an extra 1k in my emergency fund is worth this shit’, even when it might not be.
    It’s a terrible cycle. I commend you for getting out of it somewhat, and encourage you to continue fighting it!

  13. Taylor says:

    I love this MELANIE. I couldn’t seem to find a balance last year. I honestly started to feel jaded by the online world. I wanted more and more but didn’t feel any happier. I’m fortunate to have a life coach as a friend who’s helping me reevaluate. I think it’s so awesome that you’re in-tune with how you feel and living in the present.
    Taylor recently posted…#YourFirstHustleDollar Series: Jason Butler of The Butler JournalMy Profile

    • Melanie says:

      Glad you enjoyed it! I seriously failed at balance last year and was starting to get down about it too. It’s easy to get jaded when we’re so influenced by what we see online. But it’s key to be happy with where you are at and grow in your own time!

  14. Tyler says:

    I have some weeks where I feel I didn’t do anything. Though when I express that the people closest too me go through all the things I have done and I don’t feel as bad. But I think it’s important to have time to yourself. I have set time aside now to get exercise in something that I never thought was that important but boy was I wrong.

    The 24/7 thing is nice when you’re not the one doing it and people should be understanding when you aren’t doing it.
    Tyler recently posted…I Would Rather Be In Debt Than…..My Profile

    • Melanie says:

      Everything ebbs and flows. Sometimes you can rock it and sometimes you need to scale back. Listening to your body is important. I need to prioritize exercise too! I sit so much 🙁 You bring up a good point. Working 24/7 can be necessary in some cases and people need to be flexible with you, but also not judge you if you aren’t doing that. As I said, we have to find our own ‘enough’.

  15. Yes! I’ve asked myself this a lot lately too. Most of my struggle comes from comparing myself to my peers who are earning more than me. I know I’m earning enough for my family, but for some reason it doesn’t always feel like enough.
    Catherine Alford recently posted…This Is What Happened When I Spent $1,500 on FoodMy Profile

    • Melanie says:

      Girl, you are killing it! But I know how you feel, there’s always someone doing better/more than you, so shouldn’t you want more? It’s a balance for me. I want to strive for more, but also strive to be happy and grateful for what I have.

  16. It’s a thought provoking post. Currently I am balancing a full-time corporate job, a fledgling personal finance blog and preparing for the last bit of my CFP exam. I dream of the day when I can be my own boss.
    But, as rightly pointed out by you, as a self-employed person you would end up working harder with literally no boundaries of time either. Knowing where to draw the line might be key, but it is also one of the toughest to do. Thanks for the food for thought.
    Aparna @ Elementum Money recently posted…Top 5 Spend Tracker AppsMy Profile

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