Life is full of compromises

Life is full of compromises

"You can either hold your cake or eat it; not both" says an old proverb, meaning that you cannot eat a cake and still expect it to be in your hand untouched.

Life is full of compromises. There is no such thing as free lunch. You always have a price to pay - sometimes in plain sight, other times hidden.

In life, you can choose anything but not everything. You can have anything you want, but not everything. When you go to a restaurant, you cannot order everything on the menu, as you won't be able to eat it all, even if you can pay for it. Most people including myself, think by desiring something enough, we can get it while in reality, unless we are lucky and are willing to pay the price, we won't get it. If I want a lean fit body for instance but don't exercise, I won't achieve my goal. Similarly, if I want to start a side business but does not invest in tools, I will accomplish nothing.

If I want to achieve my goals, and even if I pay the price, I still have to compromise on something else. First usually my comfort zone. Sticking to the side business example, I have to meet people and grow my network, something I am used to do. I also will compromise on my time. Instead of watching TV or spending time with my family, I have to prepare my pitches and try getting meetings with leads or potential customers.


black Mercedes-Benz car interior
Photo by Oliur / Unsplash

Having a car is far more convenient than not having one; particularly in bad weather conditions and in long commute time - or when you want to travel with relatives. Most car owners, however, do not walk enough - which affects their health on the long term. Walking is essential for our health and general well being.

A car is therefore convenient for you but at the same time, you can't savour the benefits and freedom of walking.

Let's imagine you want to buy a new car. Depending on your objective, either with a frugal mindset or as a car enthusiast, you can either buy a recent Honda Fit or a used BMW M3 from 15 years ago for a similar price on the market. With the German car, you get comfort, power and overall - a more impressive vehicle.

The maintenance expenses, however, are expensive. As a car ages, you have to spend more money on maintenance as parts naturally wear and tear. And with performance cars, parts such as the turbocharger and enhanced exhaust cost much more.

Tailor Made vs Off the Shelves

Similarly if you want to buy a new shirt, you can either get one tailor made or buy off the shelves (ready made) in shops.

Advantages of tailor made:

  • Fits you perfectly
  • Custom made and a unique design
  • You have more control over the style
  • You also get maintenance


  • More expensive to make
  • Take more time to get

Advantages of off the shelves/ready made:

  • Readily available, don't have to wait
  • Choice between different sizes and colours
  • Relatively cheap


  • Common design
  • Brands made are expensive
  • Average build quality
  • Most probably not suit you well, either small or big but rarely at the exact size


Photo by Humphrey Muleba / Unsplash

Bodybuilding is such an activity that requires plenty of compromise.

To get an excellent body and stay fit, you have to dedicate an enormous amount of  time and effort. You need plenty of rest to progress in such a quest - a habit most people can't stick to - with the endless amount of distractions such as TV, Netflix and Gaming or other responsibilities such as parenting which itself is another challenge.

Quick list of benefits:

  • Stronger through strength training
  • Can work better and longer
  • Attractive, which can enhance self confidence
  • Healthier
  • Social activity, you get to meet people with the same objectives and make new friends

Bodybuilding demands:

  • regular training throughout the week
  • painful workouts
  • consuming balanced diet with plenty of protein
  • avoid fast and processed foods
  • having at least 8 to 9 hours of sleep
  • additional resting time that you could spend with your hobbies
  • relatively expensive membership fees depending on where your live

If you are a parent and/or have a hectic work day, sparing enough time or mental energy for the above requirements, is extremely difficult.

Business vs Job

Another example of something we might want but does not realise the amount of  work required is starting a business. For example, you see your relative starting a business, selling electronic devices. The sales are initially slow but as momentum racks up and discounts are all over the place, more people gradually buy their products and you hear more on the business - either from social media or from friends and relatives.

As the business is becoming more successful you fantasize doing the same yourself. Quitting your boring 9 to 5 job in order to open the next successful business - selling things that people will buy in flocks.

What you don't realise, however, is that:

  • you don't have any source of fund or capital to invest but your relative has a wealthy family background
  • you have no prior experience in setting up and managing a business having mostly worked in back office
  • you have limited to no contacts set up the logistics; where are you going to set up your shop, how do you order your products, how to do you market them, do you know accounting or if you are going to recruit, do you know how to manage them?
  • most business starting out makes a loss - do you have the patience and finance going through this period?
  • most business initially requires plenty of hard grit work with near endless working hours

In your current situation:

  • you most probably don't need to work hard every day, thereby achieving work life balance
  • you work at a fixed time and can ensure you hobbies and spend quality time with your family after work without having to think hard about
  • working a lot in an intense stressful situation that usually happens when a business is starting takes a toll on your quality of life and health; working in a job you don't need to live all that
  • you only need to master one field or two while as a business owner, you need to do everything at first: set up, sales, accounting, paperwork, marketing and others
  • if you are interested in learning more by either taking private courses or higher education, you can do so at your own pace

Even how wonderful it feels to be a business owner and glorified in the media, the reality is most startup fails and the amount of initial work is gigantic. If you are a parent, you cannot compromise this fantasy that promises nothing at the expense of your family and life.

How to deal with compromises?

  • List down the PROs and CONs like above
  • Think through it before taking a decision
  • Do not wait too much for more information to become available before taking the decision
  • If there is indeed a unique opportunity that you might miss, grab it

Of course, it's possible to succeed launching a business while working full time. Plenty of people have done it before and are doing it. You will have to compromise something.

In life out of health, work, family and friends, you can only choose three.

The grass is not greener out there - it's green where you water it. With constant bombardment of ads in the media, we are tempted to believe we always want the shiny next thing. We always want to chase the next big thing for various reasons; for social status, for pleasure or simply a way to avoid dealing with life's difficulties.