Problem vs. Inconvenience

Last week’s blog post highlighted much of that grit and determination that I’ve inherited from my parents, as a farmer’s daughter. My Mom has given my many gifts as well – and this one is a real gem that I want to pass on to you.

Is it a problem or an inconvenience?

Julie Stephens, Mother of 4, Wife of Farmer, People Leader, All Around Amazing Woman
parents portrait for problem vs inconvenience blog

My Mom is often the voice of reason for me as an adult.  Maybe she was as a child or teen too, but I wasn’t much for heeding advice at that age.

I recall some sort of spat I was having with my husband – still young in our marriage, with two busy careers, one toddler and an infant.  Perfect recipe for a bit of chaos and strife. The details of the argument are long lost, but I recall calling my Mom to likely get some sympathy and support on whatever unreasonableness my husband had drummed up.

She listened to my plight and then asked me this question. Is it a problem or an inconvenience?

Damnit, it was an inconvenience.  And I knew that whatever she was going to say next had instruction for ME to change, not for me to instruct HIM to change. She went on to tell me that in life we are responsible for our actions and our reactions.  We can choose how to deal with situations – but first we need to determine our course by deciding if it was a problem or an inconvenience.

  • A true problem is one that causes strife day after day and has overall moral, ethical, or harmful implications.
  • An inconvenience on the other hand is one that causes minor disruptions to your comfort.

Problems have to be dealt with head on in a relationship, given the right cooling off period, maybe some third-party support at times.  Inconveniences are not worth fretting about and making a big deal out of.

I have used this philosophy in all kinds of real-life experiences.

  1. So, your sister didn’t knock before coming into your room to say hello to your tortoise?  Is that a problem or an inconvenience?  Inconvenience sister, just remind her to knock next time.
  2. Your kid walks out of their room wearing the most atrocious combination of clothing that she could find in her closet and she’s off to school.  Problem or inconvenience?  *sigh* Inconvenience. 
  3. Your daughter gets so upset over the thought of you leaving on vacation weeks prior that she cries in her room night after night.  Problem or inconvenience?  Problem.  That we got support with through a great therapist.
  4. Your husband leaves his socks wherever they land when they fall off his feet magically in various areas of the house.  Problem or inconvenience?  Inconvenience…I suppose.
  5. Your co-worker has a laugh that scares the dickens out of you because it comes out of nowhere with an incredibly loud decibel.  Problem or inconvenience?  Inconvenience.  At least it’s laughter!
  6. Your former spouse is mentally impaired and you’re worried he may come looking for you at work?  Problem or inconvenience? Problem.  That you engage the right people with to support your team member, and team at work.
  7. Your goal to put away money in your emergency fund is hard, and you really want to participate in the ‘normal’ activities that you see your friends doing but you’re out of money for the month.  Problem or inconvenience?  Inconvenience friend, minor disruption – don’t let it get you side tracked.
  8. You have goals of getting out of debt and start the month strong with ideas of putting X toward your debt, but get to the end of the month and put only the minimum amount towards your debt, again.  Problem or inconvenience?  Problem if it’s causing you strife day after day or month after month.  Not earth shattering, but getting in the way of your goals.

So is it a problem or an inconvenience?

The problem vs inconvenience decisions that I have rolling around in my brain remind me of a game that my girls play sometimes called, would you rather.  It goes like this…

Would you rather – do something gross, or something else gross.  There often are not any good options to pick from. I feel like I get chastised a bit no matter what I choose. For example, would you rather – lick a booger off a dog, or kiss a toad? My answer: kiss a toad, obviously!

Getting situated with a good plan for your money is sometimes like a game of would you rather, although I’d argue that there are clearly better answers for these.

Would you rather…

  • Get a handle on your money now, or wait until it figures itself out on its own?
  • Be inconvenienced by living below your means for a period of time to tackle your goals. Or be an inconvenience later when you can’t afford to cover your expenses?
  • Plan for your retirement now, or hope that the government will cover all of your expenses?
  • Drive an expensive car with a big fat car payment, or pay off your student loan debt?
  • Put some money into an emergency savings account, or ask your family for money next time something comes up?
  • Send your kids to college without their own student loan debt. Or hope that they’re skilled enough to get scholarships to pay their way?
  • Tell your money what to do, or let your money decide for you based on the bills that come in?
  • Have enough flexibility to give to charity and those in need. Or hope that someone else is taking care of that for our future?

If getting a handle on your money stuff is something that you’ve decided is something you’d rather do, then you know how to get in touch with me. Schedule a call. Let’s talk about your goals.

I hope that the phrase that I shared with you is something that you can use in your life in some capacity or another.  Problem vs inconvenience?  If you let it, it’ll help drive your behavior to pick up on the stuff that really matters. And let go of the ones that don’t.

Sarah is a Ramsey Preferred Coach
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