Last weekend I was in Manchester and planned to spend the Sunday morning hanging in the Northern quarter, snapping and admiring the street art. However, the weather wasn’t co-operating with me. As much as I pretend I am weatherproof – in reality, I am a wimp. And so unexpectedly my street art morning became a coffee shop morning.
The day began
I wandered around in the damp …. nope scratch that, I wandered around in the drenching rain, and appreciated the Northern Quarter. Well, I tried to. I didn’t mind having luggage, as I backpack everywhere. But the rain got to me. I’m just not as hardy as I think I am. And so it was time to select a coffee shop, the backup plan. I wasn’t sure I wanted to eat, so made sure to find one where you could have just coffee as opposed to having to eat.
And I stumbled upon coffee shop one. It looked lovely. Plenty of free tables, yet also plenty of occupied tables. And they had cakes! However, the first red flag was immediately evident. You had to wait to be seated. Which is weird in a coffee shop. It’s like the authoritarian coffee shop owners have decided that customers can’t be trusted to select the correct table. And they need to control it. I dislike this level of control.
Some warning signs
The red flags continued – despite there being loads of staff, it took ages to get served. And the staff were just not friendly or interested in serving me. I said I wanted a cake later once I had made my mind up and this didn’t go down well with the serving staff. The coffee took ages to come. It became apparent the staff were much more interested in cleaning than serving customers, which was really weird. So, as you might infer, I wasn’t liking this place at all. Finally, the wifi kept going out, which made me think I should sacrifice my cake and go look for another place to hang.
Back into the rain I went. Outdoors was fresh but very wet. I then found an alternative coffee shop that looked nice. And the difference was immediately obvious. The waiting staff were smiling, gave me a menu and let me pick my seat. An hour later it started to get busy – and you know what? Letting people select their seats works fine – people shared tables and were happy to make room for their fellow humans.
Found my people
Moreover, the staff were just so nice and friendly – like they enjoyed being at work (or could easily pretend). And it got me to thinking – how can you work out which place fits you best? As from the outside I had no idea which coffee shop would suit me better. They both had similar reviews and looked not too different from outside. But inherently they were very, very different places. One I felt welcome and comfortable, the other I wanted to leave.
Don’t be afraid to experiment
So, I am a fan of trying things out. Experimenting with different options. If I just tried the first coffee shop, I could have decided that all Manchester coffee shops were cold and unwelcoming with bad wifi. But by trying another, I realised what I was looking for in a place. And realising that my initial criteria were not specific enough. I hadn’t put enough thought into what I wanted, and I assumed the first place would be satisfactory. Now I’m always a big advocate of experimenting in all areas of life.
And this includes money
There is no right way to do money. What works for one person doesn’t work for everyone. People are really different, so don’t expect the same results as someone else if you do the same as them. It pains me to read so much financial advice out there in the world, that doesn’t come with disclaimers.
While I am happily pursuing financial independence now, and saving a high perentage of money now so I don’t have to work later. I fully believe this is a personal choice, that suits me well (and is possible due to my privilege and luck in life). But I don’t believe financial independence is for everyone – and that’s OK. I believe it’s fine to spend money and live the life you want to live. No judging or shaming here.
Moreover, everyone’s standard of comfort and experience of joy is so unique, there is not one way to optimise these that will suit everyone. I know I certainly can live a certain life and be immensely happy, but put my choices onto other people and they will be less happy. And vice-versa also holds true.
Do what works for you
One of the things I wish I learned earlier in life, was that life is individual. And what brings others happiness, does not bring me happiness. I have tried lots of things, refined my choices and worked out what makes me happy. Therefore, I know where my crunch point is in happiness versus spending money.
Personally, I need to travel, theatre, run and to give my brain a workout to be happy at this stage of life. I am more than happy to spend money on these activities. I re-evaluate this often and am happy for my list to evolve as I get older and wiser.
Over to you
- What are your thoughts?
- Have you struggled to find the right fit?
- Do you experiment to make sure you made the right choice?
- Do you manage your money in an individual way?