I don’t know who came up with gift certificates, but they should receive an award for one of the best marketing jobs ever pulled on the unsuspecting public. How else can you explain how people are willing to trade money, for a less useful and more restrictive form of money at a one-to-one ratio?
For those of you who can’t think of what to buy your miserly Aunt Josie who doesn’t seem to enjoy any material possessions or your nephew, John, who is involved in the next cult-like fad of card-collecting, baggy clothes or earsplitting music, avoid the temptation to get a gift certificate. Here’s why:
1) Gift certificates are like money, except less useful.
Money can be used everywhere. Gift certificates can only be used with specific stores. If the gift certificate offers some kind of special service or discount, this tradeoff might be reasonable. However most gift certificates can’t be redeemed for cash, nor do they offer special treatment so buying one is essentially buying less useful money.
2) Gift certificates are a mark of defeat.
When I’ve given gift certificates in the past, the unstated words are, “I give up.” A gift certificate is basically a sign that you couldn’t think of an actual gift to give the person, so you will just let them pick it out for themselves. If you want a gift that says, “I don’t know you well enough to pick out a gift, but I thought cash was tacky,” get a gift certificate.
3) Gift certificates have expiry dates.
Not only are gift certificates a more restricted form of money, now some companies have the nerve to put an expiry date on them. As if trading your money for less valuable money wasn’t enough, now you get the bonus of having money that only lasts for a year or two. Most stores won’t tell you about the expiry dates, but if you check the back most tell you that your less-valuable money will become completely useless after several months.
4) Gift certificates can backfire.
The main argument for a gift certificate over cash, is that it shows at least some thought into preparation. However, this can backfire if you get someone a certificate for a store they never shop at. I’m sure we’ve all had the joy of running over to a store to use a gift certificate to buy an item we don’t need, just to feel like we aren’t wasting it.
5) Gift certificates can cost your friends and family money.
When you give a gift certificate, often you are forcing them to pay some of their own money to use it. A twenty-five dollar gift certificate isn’t a whole lot at some fancy outlets and technology stores. You may be forcing your recipient to spend another ten or twenty dollars in order to use your wonderful gift. How thoughtful!
6) Gift certificates get lost.
Many stores have started using gift cards instead of certificates. These little devices magnetically store info about the dollar value they hold. Despite the tracking of the gift certificate money electronically, you still need to have the card in order to use it. That means that if your certificate gets lost, the money is gone forever. At least you can deposit cash in the bank.
7) Gift certificates have leftovers.
What actually costs exactly twenty-five or fifty dollars? Usually your lucky gift-card recipient will be left with a couple dollars on their card after buying a gift they probably didn’t really want for themselves. This means your tradeoff for less valuable, expiring money loses an additional dollar or two.
8 ) Gift certificates mean a trip to the store.
Buying a real gift for someone says: “I know you don’t like to treat yourself, but I went to the trouble of getting something I know you’ll like at a store to save you the visit.” A gift certificate is the do-it-yourself version of a gift, forcing the receiver to make a trip to whatever store you happened upon and spend hours driving, browsing and fumbling with the card.
9) Gift certificates don’t earn interest.
Okay, so twenty dollars in cash isn’t going to appreciate much in your 1-2% annual interest savings account, but it’s still more than your certificate. Slowly losing the battle against inflation you can be happy knowing your gift becomes less and less valuable each day before it eventually gets lost or expires.
10) Gift certificates… aren’t all that bad.
I’ve been giving gift certificates a hard time. Despite their many flaws, sending cash is still a faux pas by many peoples standards. And despite the lack of logic in preferring one to money, many people still do. Many people actually prefer the colorful little cards to gifts if it means they don’t have a choice at all.
Besides, when it is Christmas Eve and you still need to buy for a half-dozen more relatives, that card at the checkout counter starts to look a little more attractive. Sure it isn’t as thoughtful as a hand wrapped gift complete with ribbon, but Hallmark cards aren’t as romantic as hand-written poetry, but nobody does that either. You might just have to throw up your hands and give in to the brilliant marketing scheme that are gift certificates.
Overcoming fear and making life changes is hard. It’s even harder when it’s a big change—breaking up with someone you love, leaving your old job, starting your own business, or hundreds of other difficult choices.
Even if it’s obvious that making a big change will be beneficial, it can be tough. Our mind wants to stay where it’s comfortable, which means doing the same things we’ve always done.
We worry: how do we know if we’re making the right decision? We wish we knew more. How do we make a decision without all of the necessary information?
We feel stuck. How do we get past fear and move forward with that thing we want to do?
Well, I certainly don’t have all the answers, but here are 7 things to remember when you want to move forward and make positive life changes.
1. You’ll Never Have All the Information
We often avoid making important decisions because we want more information before we make a tough call.
Yes, it’s certainly true that you need to do your research, but if you’re waiting for the crystal clear answer to come to you, then you’re going to be waiting a long time. As humans, we are curious creatures, and our need for information can be paralyzing.
Life is a series of guesses, mistakes, and revisions. Make the best decision you can at the time and continue to move forward. This also means learning to listen to and trust your intuition. Here’s how.
2. Have the Courage to Trust Yourself
We make all sorts of excuses for not making important life changes, but the limiting belief that often underlies many of them is that we don’t trust ourselves to do the right thing.
We think that if we get into a new situation, we won’t know what to do or how to react. We’re worried that the uncharted territory of the future will be too much for us to handle.
Give yourself more credit than that.
You’ve dealt with unexpected changes before, right? And when your car got a flat tire on the way to work, how did that end up? Or when you were unexpectedly dumped?
In the end, you were fine.
Humans are amazingly adaptable, and your whole life has been helping you develop skills to face unexpected challenges.
Have enough courage to trust yourself. No matter what happens, you’ll figure out a way to make it work.
3. What’s the Worst That Could Happen?
Like jealousy, most of your fears are created in your own head.
When you actually sit down and think about the worst case scenario, you’ll realize that there are actually very few risks that you can’t recover from.
Ask yourself, “What’s the worst that could happen?” Once you realize the worst isn’t that bad, you’ll be ready to crush it.
When you’re preparing to make a big life change, write down all of the things you’re afraid of. Are you afraid of failing? Of looking silly? Of losing money? Of being unhappy?
Then, address each fear by writing down ways you can overcome them. For example, if you’re afraid of losing money, can you take a few months to save up a safety net?
4. It’s Just as Much About the Process as It Is About the Result
We’re so wrapped up in results when we think about major life changes. We worry that if we start out towards a big goal, then we might not make it to the finish line.
However, you’re allowed to change your mind. And failing will only help you learn what not to do next time.
Furthermore, just because you don’t reach the final goal doesn’t mean you failed. You chose the goal in the first place, but you’re allowed to alter it if you find that the goal isn’t working out the way you hoped. Failure is not a destination, and neither is success.
Enjoy the process of moving forward.
5. Continue to Pursue Opportunity
If you’re on the fence about a big decision, then you might be worried about getting locked into a position that you can’t escape from.
Think about it a different way. New choices rarely limit your options.
In fact, new pursuits often open up even more opportunities. One of the best things about going after important goals with passion is that they open up chances and options that you never could have expected in the beginning.
If you pursue the interesting opportunities that arise along the path to your goal, then you can be sure that you’ll always have choices.
6. Effort Matters, So Use It
It sounds simple, but one of the big reasons we don’t make life changes is because we don’t try. And we don’t try because then it’s easy to make excuses for why we don’t get what we want.
Flunked that test? Are you stupid? “Of course I’m not stupid. I just didn’t study. I would have gotten an A if I actually studied.”
Stuck in a job you hate? Why haven’t you found a new job yet? “Well, I haven’t really tried to get a new job. I could totally ace that interview if I wanted.”
Why do we make excuses like these to ourselves? It’s because if we try and fail, then we just failed. But if we don’t try, we can chalk it up to laziness.
Get over it. Failure happens to everyone.
And the funny thing is, if you actually try—because it’s pretty clear that most people aren’t trying—then you’ll win a lot more than you think.
7. Start With Something Manageable
You can’t climb Everest if you don’t try hiking beforehand.
Maybe applying for your dream job seems intimidating right now. What can you start with today?
Can you talk to someone who already has that position and see what they think makes them successful? Can you improve your skills so you meet one of the qualifications? Can you take a free online course to expand your resume?
Maybe you’re not quite ready for a long-term relationship, but you know you want to start dating. Could you try asking out a mutual friend? Can you go out more with friends to practice your communication skills and meet new people?
You don’t need to be a world changer today; you just need to make small life changes in your own world.
More Tips to Help You Make Life Changes
- 10 Ways To Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone And Overcome Your Fear
- 10 Things You Can Do Now to Change Your Life Forever
- Living in Fear? 14 Ways to Live Life Free of Fear and Full of Hope
|||^||Psychology Today: How to Leave Our Comfort Zones|
|||^||Success: Are You Enjoying the Process on Your Way to Success?|