I wish more people evaluated their actions, thoughts and feelings in terms of opportunity cost.
In microeconomic theory, the opportunity cost of a choice is the value of the best alternative forgone, in a situation in which a choice needs to be made between several mutually exclusive alternatives given limited resources. —Wikipedia
How about a definition in layman’s terms?
Opportunity cost is the value of the next best thing you give up whenever you make a decision. —Simple Wikipedia
Thinking about opportunity cost forces you to look at what you’re doing and compare it to what you *could* be doing.
For example, when you build a parking lot on a piece of land, part of the opportunity cost is *not building* a bar, an office building, or an apartment complex on that piece of land.
Think about the opportunity cost of your thoughts. When you focus your thoughts on your personal narrative, your problems, or your enemies, the opportunity cost is all the time you don’t spend thinking about your career, your skills, other people, or social issues that impact all of us.
Listen, I claim no moral superiority. I’m just some guy, and these are just my ideas that I post on the website I pay for. But thinking this way has helped me to keep things in perspective. It keeps me honest with myself about how I spend my time.
“Right now, am I really spending my time in a way that is consistent with my value system? How am I justifying it?”
Of course, how you rationalize your actions is ultimately up to you. Some people take this to the extreme by holding a very narrow value system and focusing all of their efforts toward one particular goal. The key is to spend time contemplating, questioning, and constantly refining your value system and justification mechanisms. I’ll bet they change over time—that’s life.
And it’s important not to be hard on yourself. Don’t beat yourself up over mistakes. Mistakes are another part of life, and it’s a shame that our society places such a stigma on failure because it’s the only way towards personal growth and development. Perfection is not the metric of success–impact is. To be flawed is to be human.
However, our flaws can be minimized with some contemplation and meditation. And if you still get “bored” in today’s world (and you have a functioning Internet connection), that’s probably a signal to look inward and reevaluate your value system.
Time has always been our most scarce resource. Never in the history of the world have we had more unrestricted access to information, and information is power in this Information Age—power that can be utilized to make the world a better place for all of us. And if your goal is to make the world a better place then watch out, because the opportunity cost of boredom, self-centeredness, and ego is only growing larger as time marches forward.
And if your goal isn’t to make the world a better place…then what is?