The Click of the Moment

"I deserve this."

I thought as I clicked the button confirming my flight to Japan. After more than a year without taking a day off of work I had earned deserved this.


Natalie Shau
Lucifer by Natalie Shau
But did I really? What had I done to deserve twenty some odd days half way around the world? All that I had really done was my job.... for a year.... and I was paid for it. It's not like I had adopted a Japanese child and was showing them their culture. I hadn't even adopted a Shiba Inu. Or at the very least I could have held open an elevator door for a Japanese person, but I don't recall that happening lately. Usually I press the door close button as soon as I get in, in hopes that I have the elevator to myself. That way I can pretend I'm at home in my bathroom and do some last minute personal grooming.... Is that another grey hair, they don't hide like they used to.

"I deserve it."

I thought to myself again the other day. This time the thought occurred as I walked into a convenience store to pick up a soda and some candy. I had just finished walking a handful of blocks instead of taking the metro, thus saving me the $2 that I would promptly spend on the snacks in my hand. I mean, they were basically free because I had just earned them on my walk. Right?

It was a justification for my spending. I simply wanted something so I rationalized that my spending was deserved. It wasn't a goal that I had planned in advance. It wasn't as if I decided that if I lost 50 pounds I could buy some new clothes as a reward. It was something that I had decided in the click of the moment that I had indeed, deserved this.

I wonder how many people think they earned dessert after a particularly difficult workout. Or think that they deserve that expensive vacation because they saved all year..... Undoing the progress that they had made.

All in the click of the moment.

Have you had this mindset take away any progress for you lately?

20 comments:

  1. I think we all suffer from the "I deserve" it syndrome. When you work in a job that you don't particularly like, you have to find ways to reward yourself for staying in the game. I don't think personal rewards are a bad thing, but you have to take time to weigh the tradeoffs. I still reward myself, but I also keep the end game in mind - FI. Happy New Year!

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    1. Well, I'm not saying that I would choose not to take my vacation to Japan if I could do it over again. I did weigh in the factor of how well I had been saving all year before I really booked my trip. Basically I saw that with a few months left in the year I was already above my savings goal that I had set so even if I took the trip I should still be ahead for the year.

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  2. I did that last year with my trip to Greece. I didn't necessarily "deserve" it, but justified it by saying because I didn't go anywhere the year before, I needed to go somewhere. I didn't even plan for it financially. I was so used to going on a trip every year that I felt deprived. I was really frustrated with my job (still am, but not as much compared to last year) and my lack of progression in my career, that I felt a trip was in order. It helped boost my mood because it was something to look forward to, but of course the endorphin high from anticipating the trip and being on the trip only lasts so long. You end up having to come back to reality eventually....

    I think I need to try and be more practical about my personal rewards and make sure they're not counterproductive of my progress.

    Big trips are expensive and can set you back a bit, but I think the experiences are worth it. Everyone deserves to experience the world at least once in their life. How many times have you heard people say oh I 'd like to go there someday, but they never make time or make the effort to save for that someday?

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    1. Karen,

      Yeah, for me it had been a few years since I had been on a trip too. Usually I try to take a trip every year. The last time I took time off of work was a few weeks between jobs and I didn't do anything special with that time, mostly just doctors appointments and boring stuff like that. So it had been a while since I "really" took a vacation. Hopefully all goes well with my current job and I don't grow sour from it. Basically when I switch jobs I suddenly have to re-accumulate my PTO so I can take a decent vacation again, so staying with the same company helps.

      I actually had no issues with spending a lot on my vacation, but it was the day where I didn't take the metro and justified my spending in a convenience store that really got me that day which inspired this whole post.

      But I like how you mentioned how other people say, "I'd like to go there someday." I'm glad I'm not one of those people. My usually response is "that's maybe the 3rd place on my list of places to visit, I'll get there after I knock these other ones out first!"

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  3. "I wonder how many people think they earned dessert after a particularly difficult workout"

    In a way, me, although not with dessert as I'm not really a dessert person! I work out and eat well during the week so that at weekends, I can eat junk food and drink alcohol, sometimes excessively. Why? I still see it as 'being good during the week so that I can be bad at weekends'....

    A recent health check showed that I was in great shape, but at some point, my body will tell me that I can't do this any more, in which case I will stop doing it, or at least cut it down. In fact, it's possible this is already happening, as it's getting harder to shift extra pounds that I may put on over the holiday period.

    Time to stop undoing all the good work as you say!

    Funny, I don't think I'd ever say 'I deserve' a holiday but I would say that I'm 'due' a holiday because I know when I'm feeling run down from too many hours, too many months without a break and having had no time to recharge my batteries.

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    1. Hey Weenie,

      If you're in great health and your goal is to just maintain, then I say keep doing what you're doing. But you're probably also right in that at some point your body will tell you that you can't keep cheating! I know that I've noticed my body doesn't cooperate as much as it used to. When I was 24 I could go on such little sleep and still function at an acceptable level the next day. I can't really do that anymore. Same goes with drinking or eating candy and desserts, I can't keep up with how I used to be able to.

      I also am not sure about the whole "deserving a holiday" thing for me either, but I was definitely due for one.

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  4. While I am generally against impulsiveness and am still battling it everyday, I'd say that at some point, we need to strike a balance. It's a psychological game and this trip can actually be a great investment which will give you the time to sit back and breathe it all in - giving you the time to relax and the motivation to hustle for another year.

    We may be good farmers, but always remember to take some time off to smell the roses that you've planted.

    Otherwise, it makes no sense at all.

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    1. Josh,

      Well, to be honest my vacation wasn't that impulsive. I did do a lot of research and planned it out quite a bit so I knew what I was getting into and how it would effect me financially.

      BUT, on the other hand, the story of how I justified my spending at a convenience store because I walked instead of taking the metro.... that was completely impulsive and spending that I had to "justify" as I was doing it.

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  5. Hi There

    Visiting your site for the first time to say hi.

    Japan is awesome. I've been there and learnt the language previously and I'm totally awed by the moment.

    Vacation, to me, is more than just expenses. They bring back our physical nature state of mind, increase our level of understanding and bring out the best of what our world is at the moment.

    Spending those money away may feel a bit unjustified but since you are getting it for free, it's a homerun for me. Totally all the way :)

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    1. B,

      Oh, it was a very worthwhile expenditure for me. Before I left on vacation I was feeling burnt out in most areas of my life. I've been burnt out before but this time was different, I didn't really have any issues with my job but I was just unhappy and not motivated to do anything. In the past I felt like I had better reason to be burnt out.

      Anyways, when I got back from work I was actually sort of looking forward to work a little which was a pleasant surprise for me. I think my goal since I got back was not to take on too much anymore. In the past I always seem to spread myself pretty thin and pick up the slack from other co-workers. But I'm realizing that no one seems to notice or give credit so I'll just keep my own sanity this year instead.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      -Zee

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  6. Thinking we deserve things is a dangerous bridge to cross. It starts out with one thing and the next thing you know, you start making that excuse every time you want something. Granted, everyone should pamper themselves at times, but the key to not let it get out of control. I know my wife used to say all the time she deserved this or that and then made the realization that it was her way of not being accountable for things.

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    1. Jon,

      Yeah, letting things slide is a dangerous game. I don't usually spend much money on anything these days (besides the occasional vacation) so I don't notice it. My food budget is miniscule and I just don't really buy that much new stuff for myself so it was strange to notice myself justifying purchases while I was on vacation.

      I've been actually going out of my way lately to actually spend money on new clothes for myself. I realized that I still have some shirts I wear from high school (15 years ago now) and plenty of clothes from college..... I need to let some of those old clothes go and find a new sense of style. At least I got my monies worth out of those old clothes!

      -Zee

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  7. Zee,

    Sometimes I definitely feel like I've earned something, but it's never about something as menial as dessert after a work-out. Often I feel I deserve something because I've giving my all to achieve that particular goal.

    The weird thing is that I absolutely despise the logic of "deserving something because you tried your best". Thankfully I never have that feeling with money, so buying random stuff because I've earned it hasn't happened to me yet.

    Cheers,
    NMW

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    1. NMW,

      Usually if I've been working towards something for a long time I will set out the reward ahead of time and usually it's not that big of a reward. Well, at least not enough to undo a lot of work that I already put in.

      I think the idea of participation awards or just rewarding yourself for trying your best is pretty funny to me. I have actually used that idea for a costume once, I was an apathetic coach that handed out participation awards to people just for showing up to a party.

      I didn't view my actual vacation as some sort of justification, I sort of planned that one out, but I still feel like it's funny to think I "earned" it since I was paid for my time at work. But when I justified my spending at a convenience store it was kind of eye opening to me.

      -Zee

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  8. If you really want to be FI, take a week off work and work a different job. Or take a class so you can start a business. Or take a week off and just get caught up because you were working 100 hours a week working your main job and a side gig.

    Or just work until you are 70, that's OK too.

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    1. No Nonsense Landlord,

      Yeah, I'm sure if I wanted to reach FI really early then working a different job while I was on vacation from another would sure speed things up. But I don't think I could find a side job that pays anywhere near as much as my main one. I don't think it would be really worth it to me. I also think I would kill myself from stress by "vacationing" at another job.

      I like the idea of just getting caught up with the rest of my life when I take time off of work. I didn't exactly discover anything new about myself on this trip, but I quickly took my mind off of work and got to really unwind from it.

      -Zee

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  9. I used to do that too - rationalize expenses to myself by saying that I somehow "deserve" it. I always knew it was complete bunk, but I did it anyway.

    But truly, I don't "deserve" anything. Nobody "deserves" anything. To me, I view "deserve" to be a very close relative to "entitle". If you feel like you deserve something, then you probably also feel entitled to it. Once that happens, you find yourself on a very, very slippery slope that can lead to financially devastating behavior.

    In truth, you get what you pay for in this life. You live based on your own choices, good or bad, and supposedly deserving something really has nothing to do with it. Now, I don't tell myself that I deserve to buy such and such. Instead, I either make the decision to buy it or I don't (usually, I don't). No justifications. No rationalizations. I'm not giving myself that wiggle room any longer.

    ...and my finances are all the better for it.

    Happy 2015! :)

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    1. Hey Steve,

      I completely agree with you about ... well basically all that you wrote. I also think there's probably a strong correlation between those people that think they deserve things, and think they are entitled to things. And the whole idea of things being entitled to you just seems weird to me.

      I also just decide to do things without justifications or rationalizations. For the most part I decide that it's just something I want to do and go for it.

      Happy 2015 to you too!

      -Zee

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  10. I used to think this way when it came to getting a coffee at Starbucks (which was practically an addiction for me). If I saved money on something or other, or worked hard that week, I felt I deserved that extra chai latte. I came to the revelation that it was really very easy for me to spend $4 here and $4 there. But those dollars added up to over $600 a year! Now that I've broken that habit, I find I'm saving more money on other things now, too.

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    1. Little House,

      I'm glad you broke that habit. I always feel like it's the little expenses that add up to a lot in the end and most people don't really think it does. In a way it eventually grows to a point where it's like the straw that broke the camels back.

      I hope you're putting that savings somewhere good, like perhaps a new home purchase. I'm excited to hear what you might have in store this year!

      -Zee

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