Flying Business Class
I am boarding a plane. As I take my seat, 2A, I am greeted by a friendly gentleman occupying 2B.
“Where are you heading?”, he asks, after already inquiring if I lived in Istanbul and learning that I live in Boston
“To India”, I reply, without volunteering anything else, for now
“What is in India”, he continues with the questions.
At this point, in retrospect, I could have just said that I was visiting a friend. It wouldn’t be a lie. I was staying with a friend for a few days before heading to Amravati where I was to speak for the first time in my life, in front of a crowd as large as 500K people.
“This will sound extremely impressive”, I reply, “I am going to deliver a speech in front of 500K people, a live audience.
As expected, he had the same reaction as everyone else who heard me say that. I had that same reaction myself, each time I said it out loud. If I was impressed with myself (not a common occurrence), how could others not be?
He asked a few more questions, shared the purpose of his trip, and to my relief (I don’t like talking to anyone while I am flying), converted his seat into the bed (the amazing perks of flying Business class), and went to sleep.
I could tell he was used to flying Business Class. It was obvious. He didn’t bother taking or even looking inside the free care kit! The one that has socks, a toothbrush, and different kinds of lotions.
Although I have flown Business Class a few times, I was still taking it all in, enjoying every moment of that comfortable nap, the service, the really good food, and most importantly, not feeling guilty for spending an extra $2K. When I flew Business Class previously, it was paid for by my employer.
This time, it was different. The money was coming out of my own pocket.
A couple of hours prior, as my husband was helping with the suitcases and shared his concern that my luggage exceeded the weight limit, I blurted out, “I think my limit is higher since, on the way there, I am flying Business Class.” Although my husband supports me in absolutely everything I do, I felt a little guilty at that moment. I do not think my husband would justify spending money on himself like that. However, I JUSTIFIED FLYING TO INDIA BUSINESS CLASS and enjoyed every moment of it.
Seven Reasons to Splurge on Yourself
On my first two trips to India, although I flew for work, I flew Economy. I did not get much sleep, and my back hurt but it was fine. I got there just like everyone else. It took a few days to recover from jet lag but nothing unusual when traveling internationally. On my third trip to India and later on to Australia, I experienced the difference between Economy and Business. I could not understand those celebrities who have all the money in the world but choose to fly Economy because “It gets you to the same destination at the exact same time”. It does get you to the same destination, but how can one possibly compare getting to that destination in pain, misery, and sleep deprivation vs refreshed and ready to go!? I decided right there and then that for me to say “I made it”, I will add to my “to-do list” the following,
● Flying Business class without feeling guilty about spending money
I started that list a few years ago. The first item on it was,
● Splurging on theater or musical tickets, regardless of price, front row, for myself as well as friends and family, whoever is interested in joining me, as often as my soul desires.
Although I am still working on feeling comfortable splurging on those front-row tickets without looking at the price and I only bought a business class ticket one way, below are a few thoughts on how I justify taking those steps towards improving my relationship with money,
If you work and make a living, you have a say in how the money is spent
If you contribute to your family budget and your children have everything they might possibly need and even want, you have to prioritize yourself, at least sometimes.
If you do not have a financial responsibility to take care of your parents or grandparents, you have no reason not to spend on yourself
If you reach your mid-40s and don’t start spending at least some of what you make on yourself now, then when?
You can focus on saving or you can focus on making more (worth exploring further!)
Just because some people might see you splurging as unnecessary and/or selfish, you don’t owe anything to anyone (if you do owe someone, pay them back first and only then splurge on yourself!)
In my recent experience, each time I invested in myself, the return on investment (ROI) that could be measured, was at least double
Investing In Yourself
Getting an education, a bachelor’s degree in computer science, was that first investment, which I can say with confidence paid off. I did not think much of investing in myself until a few years ago. I learned an important lesson, when unexpectedly, I ended up paying ~3K out of pocket for a course I had taken. The lesson I learned was to never regret but to continue to invest because when you invest in continuous learning, there is a high chance of it coming back x times the investment.
I had taken a six-week course at MIT on AI and Machine Learning, expecting my company to pay for it. It was due to my own lack of diligence that I found myself in this pickle. I did not have any spare money and had I known or even slightly suspected that I would have to pay for it myself, I would most likely not do it. So, there I was, proud of myself for taking the course, passing with flying colors, and learning a ton but blaming and cursing myself for not looking into the funding in more detail.
Little did I know that within six months, my salary would increase ten times what I paid for the course. Not to mention that what I learned in that course led me to meet many interesting people, understanding more in depth some of the challenges and solutions being created out there in the industry.
The second investment became very obvious when I signed up to write my first book. It was not cheap. 10K. The interesting “surprise” for me was that I did not go in thinking about the financial return on investment. My first book was supposed to be the investment in my “feel good to leave a legacy and inspire people to have a more positive outlook on life” journey; not about getting the 10K back. When the book was published and friends and family bought a copy, it was all donated to Dana Farber Cancer Institute and the return on investment was realizing that I wanted to make money to do good with it.
Little did I know that because my publishing coach was also a business coach and there was so much encouragement, education, and seeds planted to monetize the book, I would start my own consulting company focusing on Public Speaking and Facilitation. Within exactly one month of officially registering my LLC, I got a 20K engagement, which covered the cost of publishing my first book with some left-over budget to invest into the second book and to hire a designer to make my website look more professional.
The third and latest investment is this trip to India. I invested to get guidance on how to write a speech, how to deliver the speech, and inspire a large international audience. I invested to get guidance on how to grow my business and at the same time, I met a group of incredible, like-minded people who do amazing things in this world.
I will keep you posted in a future blog(s) about the financial return on this particular investment but I will share one last thing now,
While enjoying the showers facility inside the beautiful business lounge of Istanbul airport, I thought to myself,
“I got a ton of rest and wrote this blog. I can totally see speaking at someone’s corporate event about this topic, which in turn, will cover the cost of this Business Class ticket and the overall experience of this trip. I feel good about that!” That is how I completely justified flying Business Class and not feeling guilty about investing in myself.
And if we truly think about it, can we really put a price on a nice hot shower after a very long flight and before hopping on another one?
I can assure you, it was priceless and was worth every penny!