When Jen’s email pings into my inbox, my first reaction is to lean back and squint.
I’ve asked Jen for feedback on the course she just took and I’m expecting/hoping for a few kind words, some constructive criticism, and maybe some hard numbers if she’s willing to share them. Some numbers in the low four figures.
That’s what I was expecting.
Instead, Jen told me that my course had given her the courage to negotiate a €12,000 raise. That’s almost $14,000 for us Yanks! Whaaaaaaaat?!
And while I am, of course, happy that Bank Boost nudged Jen to negotiate for a bigger salary, the truth is this: Jen got what she wanted because she asked for it.
There are a million blog posts bouncing around the internet that tell us how to reach goals, manifest our dreams, and change our habits. (I know this because I write a lot of those blog posts.)
Many of these blog posts walk us through the art of getting clear on what we want, breaking our goals into teeny, tiny steps, and working towards what we want on a consistent basis. And these are all important parts of getting what we want.
But. None of that means anything if we’re not willing to ask for it. Let's say you want to get into an amazing party. Breaking goals into little pieces is walking up the sidewalk, asking for what you want is knocking on the door. Click To Tweet
Here’s my totally unsolicited San Jose itinerary + tips for you!
- Use Uber rather than deal with taxis. You won’t get ripped off or have to haggle prices and you can ‘share’ your ride with people at home if anyone’s nervous about your safety. (At home I prefer Lyft, but it’s not really available in San Jose.)
- Stay in the city rather than the suburbs! San Jose super walkable and easy to get around. We stayed right in the heart of downtown, but Barrio Amon is beautiful, walkable, and a bit quieter. If I could do it again, I’d stay here!
- If you’re up for it, rent a car so you can take day trips out of the city. You’ll have to get insurance (your American car insurance won’t cover you here), but even with full coverage, it shouldn’t be more than $30 a day. We loved having the freedom to go where ever we wanted.
- Attempt the Tres Cruses hike. It’s sort of terrifyingly steep, but even if you just do the first half, you’ll get some amazing views and exercise.
- Visit the Toucan Rescue Ranch. Their Sloths & Coffee tour is $60 per person but ABSOLUTELY WORTH EVERY PENNY. You’ll see your fill of sloths and toucans, as well as an ocelot, an oncilla (the world’s smallest jungle cat!!), and an animal I can only call ‘a tree otter.’ Also, the ranch is a rehabilitation center not a zoo, so you can rest easy knowing that your money is supporting a great cause.
- Head to volcano Irazu, 1.5 hours outside San Jose. Take a million photos of the lake inside the crater and all the clouds you’re above. Bring a picnic or stop at one of the restaurants on the way up. On your way back to San Jose, stop in Cartago and see the basilica and the Santiago Apóstol Parish Ruins – an unfinished church that’s now a public park.
- Drive southwest and check out the beaches of Jaco. We liked Playa Mantas and Playa Blanca (which are technically connected to each other at low tide.) On your way to Jaco, stop at Crocodile Bridge to see 15 giant, wild crocodiles sunning themselves in the river below this overpass. After a day at the beach, check out the sunset from El Miro – the ruins of an old restaurant, now covered in graffiti – a great place to watch the sunset.
- In San Jose proper, we loved all the street art, the amazing bakeries, the corner fruit vendors, and the wild parrots that (noisily) congregated in the parks. The National Theater is gooooorgeous and if it wasn’t their off-season, we’d totally have sprung for tickets to a show. We stumbled onto Cementerio de Obreros and loved exploring it.
Links for you!
This is SUCH a great idea if you need design input on your home without the traditional interior designer price tag!
The last curious man:
My wife came home one day, and she said, “Look. There’s a really nice woman at the newspaper. Her son is a writer. She wanted you to take a look at his work,” which seemed…adorable, right? A mother’s ambition for a son. I took this manuscript out of its yellow envelope, not expecting much. I started to read. It was about a young cook, working at a pretty average steak-and-frites place on lower Park Avenue. I called this guy up on the phone. He answered it in his kitchen. I said, “I’d like to publish this work of yours in The New Yorker. I hope that’s okay.” That was the beginning of Anthony Bourdain being published. I don’t know if there’s any way to put this other than to say he invented himself as a writer, as a public personality. It was all there.
I really, really loved this essay from my girl Alex: There’s always a simpler way.
I read most of this on my flight home and had to subtly cry into my scarf.
I loved the black walls in this hour tour.
A family in six acts.
My mother-in-law throws a party. There are grandparents, aunts and uncles, neighbors, and the next generation of cousins, a phalanx: eager voices and strange, improvised games. I drink a whiskey in the back garden. The adults discuss every Californian’s favorite topic: the route they took to drive there. It’s all novelty to me, the continuity of grown-up cousins and young cousins. The day grows cool. We cannot find my younger son. I usually know just where he is: attached to me. There is panic. He’s discovered, in his aunt’s bed, content and watching cartoons, wholly at home among his people.
Hope you had a lovely week! I’m excited to get back to my routine and write some great things for you!
How was your week, friends? I’m still in Costa Rica, ziplining and beach coming and eating all the chocolate I can get my hands on. But I still found time to round up some great links for you!
Link for you!
Inconsiderate conversationalists are one of my biggest pet peeves, so I loved Captain Awkward’s advice.
Constantly steamrolling a friend, dumping all your negative thoughts on them after they’ve asked you not to, giving them the silent treatment and tanking a joint game session (a nonverbal social cue…that communicates displeasure) because your friend disagrees with you or sets a boundary, never making an effort to see how your friend is doing or learn anything about them isn’t because of a disability, it’s because of selfishness, maybe intentional, maybe a bad habit, definitely sucky.
Ohh, I think this would be a great addition to my tiny makeup bag.
I’ve been thinking about diet culture a lot lately and the amount of time, energy, and money we spend trying to make our bodies look a certain way. What would happen if we reallocated some of that time, money, and energy? Obviously, I loved this episode of the Hashtag Authentic: How diet culture is stopping you from playing bigger
I love this totally over the top throw pillow!
Minimalism was also a hallmark of the clothing that came out of the Recession. Everlane pushed elevated basics, like simple T-shirts and navy sweaters. Cuyana, a brand launched in 2013, piously encouraged shoppers to buy “fewer, better things” — not a new impulse in the aftermath of an economic shock. In a 1974 essay called “Recession Dressing,” a response to an economic downturn that had begun a year prior, the fashion writer Kennedy Fraser wrote, “The old interest in the cautious principle of spending more on fewer clothes of better quality is back.”
Hope you had a lovely week!
“I have extremely specific window treatment needs.”
As ridiculous as it sounds, this is a real, actual thought process I’ve had for the last three years.
I’ll spare you the boring specifics, but the windows in our master bedroom are strange. For the longest time, I was convinced that the only answer was $350 worth of custom-made roller blinds.
I set aside $350 for my custom-made window treatments. I measured the windows approximately 17 times. I visited the overpriced window treatment website 19 times and never pulled the trigger.
Every night I glared at the terrible dark brown curtains that came with the house and thought about how much better my life would be once I had my fancy roller blinds. Life is what happens on the other side of good window treatments!!!
And then, while poking around a thrift store on a random Tuesday, I stumbled upon a set of pretty, cream-colored curtains for $7. They matched the paint in our bedroom, they were thick enough to block out the light from the street, and they were $7. What did I have to lose?
I imagine you can see where this is going, reader. I took those $7 curtains home, I “hemmed” them with Stitch Witchery, and slung them on the very same curtain rods that had been home to the awful brown drapes I hated.
Was this the window treatment a professional interior designer would recommend? Probably not.
Was it the solution I’d been dreaming of for three years? No.
But it was exponentially better than what I’d been doing. And would the expensive, custom blinds have been $343 better than these second hand curtains? I don’t think so.
And my “good enough” solution meant that I now had hundreds of dollars to put towards other things. I could get that massage I needed. I could take my friend out for a nice birthday meal. I could get the exit row upgrade on my next flight.
All because I opted for a quite-good-but-not-totally-perfect option.
Saying “good enough” in one area of your life opens up time, energy, and money to be awesome in other areas. Not every aspect of your life has to be polished and remodeled and optimized to perfection. Click To TweetYou know what happens when we allow ourselves the “good enough” option? Life opens up. We can breathe again. Hundreds of hours and dollars are available to us because we kept using the two-year old iphone and decided we could paint the cabinets instead of remodeling the whole kitchen.
Most of us are exchanging time for money. We spend 40-60 hours a week working to earn the money that we spend during the other hours. The median income in America is about $32,000 a year, or $15 an hour. The average American would have to exchange 22 hours of their life to buy those damn custom blinds I wanted.
That’s 22 hours of life that could be spent playing with our kids, throwing sticks for our dogs, re-reading our favorite books, walking along the river as the sun set, or just watching funny videos on Youtube.
That’s a lot of life we could be living and enjoying because we chose the ‘good enough’ option.
What if – instead of buying a new outfit for every wedding and holiday party – we just wore something we already owned with some different accessories?
What if we decided that the recipe would be fine if we used dried thyme instead of fresh and medium cheddar instead of extra sharp – because that’s what we have on hand?
What if – when the car gets a scuff on the back bumper and the mechanic says it’ll cost $350 to replace – we buy the $12 paint pen and shrug?
And what if – after we did all those things – we took the money and time and energy we saved saying “Good enough!” and spent it on things we were really excited about? (Because how excited can you really be about a perfectly painted bumper?)
Now, you are, of course, allowed to have nice things. Sometimes upgrading to the better blender, the nicer sports bra, the more supportive mattress truly will improve your life. I am not exaggerating when I say that my Roomba is an investment in the quality of my life.
But when we constantly spend time, money, and energy trying to make something that’s already an A into an A++ we burn ourselves out and make ourselves broke.
3 questions that can help you find “good enough”
How will things be different if I upgrade this?
If we’re talking about a Roomba, your life will be different because your floors and carpets will be effortlessly clean, you won’t argue with your partner about who’s going to vacuum, and you’ll stop quietly resenting your dog. (No, I will never stop shouting about my love for my Roomba!!!)
But not every purchase does this. Will your life be dramatically improved by replacing one working television with a different working television? By getting a Vitamix when you already have a Nutribullet? Will your lunches taste better when you eat them out of one of those hipstery metal bento boxes instead of tupperware?
Maybe! Maybe not. Everyone’s answer is different. But I think it’s important to take the time to actually ask ourselves this question.
How many hours would I have to work to pay for this?
Truly, one of the very few personal finance books I recommend is Your Money Or Your Life. The crux of the book is this: most of us exchange our time for money. The less money we spend, the more hours of our lives we have to spend the way we want.
So run the numbers. How many hours do you spend working each week? And how much time do you spend commuting? Divide your yearly take home pay by the amount of time you devote to work in a given year.
Is that new phone worth 10 hours of your life? Is the just-wearing-it-for-one-wedding outfit worth 15 hours? Maybe they are! But again, I think it’s an important question
Why am I buying this really?
Sometimes to answer is “Because I’m sick of vacuuming all the time” or “I spend $15 a week on hummus and this nice blender means I can make my own.”
But sometimes the answer is “Because I’m bored” or “Because all my friends are remodeling their kitchens” or “Because I’m the only person at the coffee shop who’s not using a Macbook.”
You might be surprised by what you discover when you’re really honest with yourself.
So if you’re looking for permission to allow some part of your life to be “good enough,” this is it. <3
I want to hear from you! Do you struggle with feeling like you need to improve and upgrade everything? What’s one area of your life you’re allowing to be “good enough”?
Photos by Junior Moran and rawpixel on Unsplash
How was your week, friends? I spent most of mine getting all the new Bank Boost students situated and getting ready for two weeks in Costa Rica. I’m there right now if you’d like to follow along on Instagram!
Links for you!
Our resolution ideas are often – what’s the word? – unsustainable? Unrealistic? Way too ambitious which sets us up to fail and then feel bad about ourselves thus creating a vicious cycle of self-doubt?
(that last one was 22 words)
If you’re nodding along because you’ve already abandoned your resolutions or good habits by January 9th, may I be so bold as to suggest one (or maybe two AT MOST) of these tiny, super doable resolutions instead?When we succeed repeatedly at tiny things, we're building the courage to take on big things. Click To Tweet