I first read about the Fulfillment Curve a few months back and promptly tucked it away for further research, eventually forgetting about it. It was only recently while reading the cult classic "Your Money or Your Life" that I was once again introduced to this concept.
In a nutshell, studies have repeatedly shown that happiness eventually peaks at a certain level, afterwards, happiness or satisfaction tends to dip slowly, regardless of how much effort we expend on it. That peak is known as Enough and it's the proverbial sweet spot that lets you maximize your pleasure for any single thing or experience.
Here's how The Simple Dollar illustrates a progression through the Fulfillment Curve when it comes to home buying:
Example #2: Home Buying
1 – We’re essentially homeless. We live in our car.
2 – We live in an extremely cheap, extremely small old apartment. The rent is extremely cheap, but there’s barely enough room for sleeping space for everyone or room to do anything at all. We’re embarrassed to have guests at all.
3 – We live in a nice apartment or a small house. There’s enough room for everyone to sleep and have meals, but we’re sometimes pinched for space and there’s more clutter than we’d like. We have some of our friends over, but we feel pretty self-conscious about the place and don’t have the dinner parties we’d like.
4 – Our house is just the right size for our family. We feel comfortable having any and all guests over, the housework doesn’t overwhelm us, and the bills are completely manageable.
5 – Our house slightly exceeds what our family needs, but it gives us some room to grow. The bills are slightly painful, but we can manage things. We spend a bit more of our weekends on home cleaning and maintenance than we’d like, but we feel quite proud giving dinner parties and inviting people over.
6 – Our house is a McMansion. We can afford the bills, but just barely, and only if we eat everything at home. The bills make me feel kind of guilty, and there are times where it feels like all we do is upkeep.
7 – We bought a house nine times our annual income on an ARM and it just adjusted. Our house is mind-blowingly awesome, but we’re getting foreclosed tomorrow. We have no equity and we have no idea what we’re going to do. I wish we’d never come here.
As a beauty blogger in my past life, my own experience with the Fulfillment Curve went something like this:
1 - I want to write about beauty products and other kakikayan because it makes me happy.
2- Whoa! People are actually reading and commenting on my posts?! This is so cool and pumps me up to write more.
3- I'm receiving stuff from brands and getting invitations to attend events. The beauty blogging community is such a nice bunch. I'm so happy to meet new people.
4 - All the free stuff is cluttering up my house and I'm spending quite a bit to ship them to my readers. Also, my blog backlog is starting to get to me and bakit demanding ang mga PRs?!
5- Ayoko na. Close shop. This is too stressful and doesn't bring me happiness anymore.
My happiness with beauty blogging peaked at 3 because it fed my interest in all things kakikayan without encroaching on the other aspects of my life, or becoming a burden. Actually, I had it right at number 1 because I was blogging for the sheer joy it brought me. The fact that I got to interact with my readers and the industry was just an added bonus.
Now that I'm giving beauty blogging a second chance, I'm making a conscious effort to make it my happy place and that means writing when I want to and about things that I choose to. Let's see if Ms. Nicey-Nice and Can't Say No can stick to her guns.
Applying the Fulfillment Curve on other aspects of my life, I'm surprised to realize that when it comes to housing, we've actually reached the peak of Enoughness without even trying. Our condo is messy and still needs some work done, but it's just the right size for us and it's near the highway so commuting is not an issue. My husband dreams of having a garage where he can tinker with motorbikes and our son will need his own room pretty soon, so I guess we're still not at the peak of the curve but it does feel pretty close.
It's the same with travelling. I derive much pleasure from dreaming and planning trips, and I soak in the sights and experience when we're abroad. I now wonder if my joy will remain the same if we're able to travel abroad on a much regular basis. If we could afford anything and everything, then what is there to look forward to?
So people listen up, the marketing bright boys and girls have been feeding you lies all of these years. Pursuing what's bigger, better and faster is not your mission in life, in fact, it's the surest way to dissatisfaction and misery. Instead of trying to keep up with the crowd, take a moment to pause and reflect on what really brings you joy and that's where you'll find your Enough.
Here's hoping that we all find our Enough and have the wisdom to recognize it when we do come face to face with it.
*Image from Investment Moats