It’s a hard task to gain perspective. At times it feels like we want to have the perspective of others, be it the waiter, homeless man, or celebrity, to empathize and see things in their shoes. Knowing them better makes it far easier to treat them in a way that makes them happy. It may be more important, though, to gain perspective about ourselves and the way we handle different situations
I’ve made the conscious decision a few times to prioritize different aspects of my life. Whether it be money, career opportunity, or family, various goals have been the focus and forced all else to the side. Personally, I’ve been mostly intense in my dedication to one purpose or another. Spending freely when I had the money, working aggressively when my career held my attention.Lately I’ve noticed that going from financially-capable-yuppie to ramen-diet-entrepreneur has been one of the best educations of my life.
There was a time when going to the hot restaurant/bar/cafe was important to me. Not being able to afford it, as a college kid, was frustrating but temporary. It wouldn’t be long until a well paying job not only afforded those things, but even gave me the perspective to realize they weren’t all they were cracked up to be. I didn’t have the foresight and maturity to avoid the draw, but I knew my attitude would change once I saw things from the inside. And it did. Loud music, small portions, and dim lighting felt unnecessary when I was only looking for a place to break bread and chat. The pizza place offered more. That said, expensive food is usually tasty and the highest quality restaurants are rarely cheap. Beyond that, I put my entire life into my work. Spending more than five days a week to earn the money made it hard to sit down to a cheap meal in my only free time. What was all the effort for if I didn’t spend?
I’m sure this is a feeling everyone’s wrestled with. We invest in something, be it time into our salary or money into a meal and want to get the most from it. But the cost it was taking on my career was too great. Finding a career where was more interested in the work was the best decision of my life, not only for the enjoyment of each day, but what it taught me about money. The list of things I could now afford were far fewer yet my satisfaction remained, possibly grew. Pressure to spend was reduced and the purpose of decisions entered my conscience. If I wanted to hang with friends and catch up, I had to prioritize while spending less. I may have told myself that’s why we went to a nice restaurant, but the same could be done for free in the park. If I wanted to get away from life, mentally and physically, maybe it wasn’t only a night at the club that would suffice, but a long run as well.
Not being on a shoestring budget anymore, I can choose to go to nicer places and spend a bit. However, nothing makes me happier than saying no to extras. The free fries that come with lunch or cheese that I don’t want on the sandwich. The perspective of not having money made it clear that I consume more than I was ever looking for at the start. Plenty of nonsense gets involved when things are more expensive. It may feel like a bonus, it’s probably just a bad excuse to charge more.