(The difficult art of) Digging deep


Snow? Seriously? That’s not really helping, actually.

I was fed up before I even left the house today. The first email I received on my work phone at 7:30am infuriated me and left me fuming as I headed into the office. Not the most perfect way to start the day.

Usually at that time I get the day’s news articles sent my way, and I’ll peruse them as I drink my coffee, so “the email” was not expected at all. It’s rare to get anything else at that time because most people haven’t come into the office yet, so to say I was blindsided is an understatement. Oh well, lesson learned: don’t read your email until you get to work!

Of course, this email set the tone for my morning and when colleagues were headed out to the mall at lunch to shop, it was tempting to go along with them and engage in a little retail/restaurant therapy. But I didn’t, I stayed behind at work and ate the food I had brought with me and caught up on some reading*.

It’s times like these that I am learning that I need to dig deep. I need to recognize that no amount of purchasing, no amount of delicious deep-fried vittles, no amount of spending money is going to make a crappy morning better. To shop or to eat ones’ feelings does not going to suddenly make those feelings go away. In fact, the only real solution is the long-term solution: keep saving so I don’t need to deal with a day like this in the future.

Similarly, Mr. Tucker and I instituted a rule about how we spend our weeknights. It’s easy to transition from the chaos of a long work day with a glass of wine: come home after a long day, drink a couple of glasses of wine with dinner, rinse, repeat. But while we weren’t getting rip-roarin’ drunk on the regular, it was It’s still too much to drink on a regular basis and we found our evenings less productive. When we sat down and really looked at it, we decided to save our drinking for the weekends, which saved both money and gave us more energy in the evenings. While it took a bit more time to transition in the evenings without the winding-down wine short cut, our wallets and our health thank us.

Today is Friday! HUZZAH!

Sometimes we don’t even realize we’ve fallen into these habits until our drawers are stuffed with clothes we don’t wear, or we calculate how much we’ve spent at the liquor store that month. In our minds we probably didn’t even buy or drink as much as we thought we had but our “once in a while,” suddenly become “more often than not.” Humans are designed to adapt and to adapt quickly but that doesn’t mean we adapt to the right things.

I have been really working on my ability to dig deep when things get hairy. I used to be the kind of person who would throw her hands in the air and justify my actions to myself by saying, “Oh what the heck!? It’s only a $10 bottle of wine!” But the reality is that nothing is every “just a.” Just a bottle of wine is the teaser I need to make it “just a” dinner out, or “just a” new sweater. The reality is that it never really is “just a” this one time. It creates habits.

I am not suggesting we never treat ourselves but we should be treating ourselves in a conscious way. We should be actively choosing these moments, not reacting to bad moments that spur us into bad-decision making. If we can recognize the difference then we have a better chance of reaching our goals and not letting our emotions override our goals.

Waiting – patience in general – is a good habit to cultivate. By waiting to have those two glasses of wine at the end of the work week, I have something to look forward to every Friday. By saving and not spending my money as a way to treat myself during stressful periods, I will be rewarded by not having to work more days in the future. So the next time your job, a friend, or your kids makes you want to scratch the “just a” itch: dig deep. It will be difficult – especially when everyone else is out spending – but by digging deep you will get the satisfaction of knowing that you are one step closer to your goals.

* Walking is out until I can, well, start to walk again next Tuesday