Why It’s Never Enough

February 26, 2024

When talking about money, perhaps the most common question people seek to answer is, “How much is enough?”

The answer?

​It depends.

​Or, more specifically, it’s different for everyone.

​To actually get to an answer, we have to determine a few key variables. First, we must determine what we are trying to solve for. And usually, the answer isn’t about money at all.

​I’ve asked this question to hundreds of people, and the answers vary widely, ranging anywhere from $1 million to $1 billion.

​But when we dig a level deeper, the logical next question is, “Enough for what?”

​For most of us, the answer to that question is enough to stop worrying.

​And this is where things get wild.

​The more I’ve asked this question, the more I’ve come to learn that there is no answer.

​It’s not that people don’t have an answer; most everyone thinks they do. I find almost everyone, when prodded, has some sense of a number that they believe would finally make them happy.

​But as much as the answers vary, they all have one thing in common: the number is more than the person has now.

​And my anecdotal observations are backed by broader evidence. This Hampton 2023 Wealth Survey took data from 89 entrepreneurs running businesses ranging from <$1M to $100M+ and compiled some very interesting insights.

​Here’s what they found: when asked about their financial goals, people were aiming for a goal of 2-10x their current wealth level, regardless of their net worth.

​From the report:

“Interestingly, a high net worth doesn’t make people feel secure on its own. At almost every wealth level, people felt they needed more to be secure.”

This means that regardless of where we set our number, the likelihood is that when we reach it, we will move the goalpost. 

Now, on the surface, there may be an easy explanation for this phenomenon: as our income grows, our spending grows with it. The Hampton report supports this conclusion as well.

But I believe the problem is deeper than mere lifestyle creep.

It’s because we are not wired for wealth.

​Consider the fact that our brains evolved with one mission: to keep us safe. And with the dawn of modern man 300,000 years ago, the concept that one could have such an abundance of resources that they would last beyond their lifetime was quite literally unimaginable.

​Wealth in its current form is a relatively new concept, after all. The development of writing and record-keeping, which emerged in ancient civilizations such as Mesopotamia around 3100 BCE, solidified the concept of wealth by enabling the precise tracking and accumulation of resources, debts, and transactions.

Bridge the gap.

For a new trait to spread through a population and become an adaptation, it must confer some sort of reproductive advantage to the individuals who possess it, allowing them to have more offspring who also carry the trait. The rate at which this occurs can be quite slow, especially for complex traits influenced by many genes, such as those related to behavior and cognition. Considering human evolution, adaptations can take from a few thousand to several hundred thousand years to become widespread.

​If we consider our ancestors’ situation, we can start to understand why being programmed for scarcity was a useful trait for survival. In a pre-agricultural world, hunter-gatherers were caught in a never-ending cycle of feasting and famine. Because of very few efficient ways to store resources long term, our ancestors must have been constantly seeking out new ones, never satisfied – because running out of resources meant death.

Quite simply, our brains haven’t had the proper time to adapt to the recent technological advances that would yield seemingly infinite resources. 

​If we want to find a way to feel content with our level of wealth, we must fight against our very biological programming.

​Even worse, while nature is a formidable foe, nurture may be even worse.

​Our cognitive financial programming, or money stories, are deeply ingrained in our collective consciousness from the earliest ages.

​Kids who have more than they need are called spoiled. We are told it’s impolite to discuss money or show our wealth. Our political and religious beliefs teach us that rich people are evil.

​Even our own family members can become jealous, mistrusting, or righteously indignant with regard to our wealth, especially if it surpasses theirs.

​How we grew up with money relative to those around us, what we witnessed from our parents’ relationship with money, and how money was used in an emotional context — all of these contribute to our money stories.

​With all of these forces fighting against us, it’s no wonder our subconscious brain betrays us. It’s only doing its job (according to evolution), after all.

​So, back to the original question – how much is enough? How do we turn the tide against our evolution and shift to safety?

The answer, perhaps frustratingly, is that safety can only be created within ourselves. 

This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t aspire to financial freedom. However, it would behoove us to recognize that freedom is a journey, not a destination. Pinning our hopes to a number, while giving us something to strive for, will most likely be an empty pursuit.

​But with this message comes good news. It means we don’t have to put off our journey to happiness and safety until we reach some arbitrary outcome.

​We can begin to rewire our nervous system for calm and peace now, regardless of wealth or income level.

If you’ve been putting your happiness on hold – perhaps now is the time to ask how you can start to find peace in the present.

And if you aren’t sure where to start, I would invite you to consider joining us here at Unbreakable Wealth. Our mission is to help high performers bridge the gap between wealth and freedom, and inside, you’ll find a venerable group of founders committed to doing the work of building their best life – in the present moment.

If this message resonates with you, I look forward to seeing you on the other side.

Rewiring for wealth,


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