decisions and sacrifices

The whole thought process started with the purchase of a diving magazine. It often happens that when I am in the airport I make impulse magazine purchases. This particular diving magazine had a list of the top dive sites of 2009. I was sold.

One of my dreams/goals is to dive the Galapagos Islands with their huge schools of pelagic fish. I want to spend seven days on a live aboard diving morning, noon, and night!

As I was thinking about this trip I want to take, I realized that I want to get some experience with underwater photography before I go, which means a trip somewhere not-so-expensive to learn (which will be expensive). It all adds up. Not cheap.

And then I started to think about all of the money I’ve spent this year on impulse. (Don’t ask me how much I spent on cosmetics I didn’t need this weekend…it’s embarrassing.) Makeup, eating out, music, etc, etc. It’s not that I don’t want these things (and really, I will never stop purchasing music…and yes I know I could get a lot of it for free, but being the capitalist pig that I am, I just can’t do it…see if you can make that one make sense). I blow money on a regular basis. I love to shop. I love new things. I love cosmetics and shoes. I love product. I love good food.

As I sat on my Southwest flight (still my favorite airline of all time) from Vegas to Salt Lake, I suddenly realized how immature I am in my spending decisions. I am all about instant gratification. I mean, I’m a grown up! Why should I have to control my spending? It’s my money (or will be when I earn it and pay off my student loans).

And therein lies the dilemma of decisions and sacrifice. Whenever I make a decision to do something, I am making an equal decision to not do something else. I know this probably sounds super basic, but I found it mind-blowing. Yes, I realize this is what is commonly known as opportunity cost…but somehow I never connected it with my personal life.

It’s one thing to think about the fact that I shouldn’t have such horrible impulse purchasing habits, it’s another to realize that I have purchased enough $14 eyeshadows (yes, I spend $14 on each little pot of pressed powder that I use to paint my face every morning) this year alone (academic, not calendar) to have paid for a diving trip…not to the Galapagos Islands, but to get me that much closer to my goal of fantastic underwater photography (or at least good enough to mount on my own wall).

Is that the most embarrasing thing ever? Probably not, but it’s pretty bad.

So, suddenly every decision I find myself making has become multi-faceted. It’s not just “should I do this?”, now it’s that plus “what am I giving up by choosing to do this?” I tell you what, it’s exhausting…and extremely rewarding.

Yesterday, the decision was running. I knew how hard it was going to be–a) I’m out of running shape, and b) I’m carrying around 20 lbs more than I was at this time last year–so, it would have been very easy for me to just put it off…again. I chose to run. The conversation in my head went something like this:

Instant Gratification Chloe: If you run, you have to take a shower again today and be back to school by 5 pm. If you don’t, you could go home and take a nap.

Self-Aware Chloe: True, but if I don’t run I am sacrificing a healthier me and risking my chances of finishing that stupid half-marathon at the end of March.

IG Chloe: See, you just called it stupid.

S-A Chloe: I wasn’t serious. In fact, the only stupid thing around here is going to be me if I don’t run.

IG Chloe: Really, that’s how it’s going to be. Running? Do you know how painful and agonizing this is going to be?

S-A Chloe: Yes, and when I’ve finished those four miles I will feel so good about myself, it will be totally worth the pain.

IG Chloe: What the hell? When did we decide on four miles?

And that was that.

It’s been a fascinating couple of days as I’ve listened to my inner dialogue and really come to terms with just how motivated I am by a “right here, right now” mentality.

2 thoughts on “decisions and sacrifices

  1. Loved this post, Chloe. It’s a lot of what I’ve been thinking about lately. It’s a perfect through process for me (which I’d never considered either) to think, “What am I sacrificing in order to have/eat/do/buy this right now?”

  2. I always think of money that way, but Bart had never computed it that way until we got married and I was always saying things like that.

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