Monday, January 3, 2011

Turn your weakness into a strength.

This Christmas, I got an Amazon gift card from my boss, and a Barnes & Noble gift card from my sister and brother-in-law.  My sister and brother-in-law also got me a gift certificate to one of my favorite restaurants.  So I will be rolling in books and sushi.

Books.  I live within walking distance to the library, but I cannot help but buy books anyway.  It's easier for me to resist these days, since I don't work in the city any more, and therefore do not wait at a station with a bookstore.  I'd get bored waiting for the train, so I'd browse.  And I'd invariably find books that I'd want to read.  And I wouldn't be able to wait until I got home, and go to the library to see if they had it on the shelf.  Nope! I had to have it.  Right. NOW.  It was a long train ride, and I'd already finished the book I was reading, and besides, I might forget the name of the book.  And it was right there. In front of me.  Calling my name. 

Restaurants.  Yes, I cook.  I cook quite well.  But when I get back in the house by seven o'clock at night, the last thing I can muster up the energy to do is cook.  If I make anything, it's pasta.  Which is not the healthiest thing to eat five nights a week.  So sometimes, I'd order out.  I'd get my favorite dish from my local Chinese place.  I didn't have to cook it, and I didn't have to wash a skillet or a pan and strainer. 

Every year, I'd beat myself up about this.  There is no reason for you to buy books, I'd scold myself.  What are you doing? You can walk to the library you lazy sot.  You can make a bleeding skillet meal! You can defrost and heat up some soup in the freezer.

This year, I am resolving again to not buy as many books (at least, once I use up the gift cards) and to not eat out as much.  I've actually been pretty good about both lately, though it has nothing to do with my renewed purpose and iron will.  No--it has everything to do with circumstances. 

I don't buy as many books because I am no longer working in the city, so I'm not waiting for a train with a bookstore in it.  No, I drive an hour each way to work now, so any savings on unnecessary book spending is pretty much moot. (It's a long story.)

I don't eat out as much because my route home does not take me near my favorite Chinese place.  I can still order it on my way home and pick it up, but it takes that much longer, it's that much more trouble, and I won't bother.  I have to pass by my home to get to the restaurant, which I cannot abide.  So, laziness will work for me in this regard--I skip the takeout and take some homemade soup out of the freezer to eat. 

I try to remember this when I see people talk about or post about things that strike me as stupid or irresponsible.  I've been both--in spades--and if I'm doing better now, it's because I'm out of temptation's way.  It's because I finally figured out how to use a weakness as a strength (who knew that end-of-day laziness could save me from unnecessary takeout?).

So, I'm doing what I can to make the things I can't or shouldn't do unappealing.  That's the only advice I could ever give anyone who's trying to budget effectively, who's trying to eat better, or who's trying to keep up with a resolution.  Stay out of temptation's way.  Make it too much work for yourself to indulge. 

Turn your weakness into a strength.

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