If you have taken an economics class the “opportunity cost” (OC) might sound familiar to you. If not, in simple words it is the cost of not choosing something because of another choice that was made. For example, you have ten dollars with which you can either go to the nearest bakery to have a good meal or you can go to the dollar store and buy enough groceries for the week. The OC of choosing the bakery would be the amount you could save on food for the week by going to the groceries. The OC of choosing the groceries would be missing out on the yummy meal in the bakery with a nice ambience and probably meeting new people which is tough to be evaluated in nominal value alone.
Every decision we make has a concurrent OC to it, be it decisions at work or in our relationships. Why is it that it is so easy for few of us to say good bye while for few others the very thought of it is stressful. Over the years I met many people of which few I couldn’t wait to say bye, few I chose over another, and few I have taken along. No matter what the situation is I have always been able to weight the OC to help me make a decision. How is one to weigh the OC when the subjects in context are people? Think of how you would make a decision as to which equity you want to invest in. There are a lot of factors that we consider, from the historic patterns to the potential spike in the select equity’s price. Similarly, one can evaluate the OC of making a decision about a person by taking into account events from the past, change in circumstances, and the potential repetition of certain events.
This is applicable to work as well. From my experience in shared services I have noticed that a lot of our employees have proven to be more productive and efficient when asked to individually contribute with a well defined work list and timeline rather than when asked to work with groups or in teams. This efficiency does not come from just working alone but from the creative freedom they experience by not being influenced by anothers ideas or dominance.
Having said that, if it is so easy to make decisions based on the outcomes of the OC evaluations, why is it that most of us still live in so much regret and discontent. Probably because we judge ourselves more than anyone else would. We doubt our capabilities and limit ourselves from exploring the extent of our caliber. Although, we have companionship and confidants, aren’t we all isolated in some or the other way? In thoughts if not skin. At what point do we then stop depending on others and start living for ourselves. How much longer before we realize that the opportunity cost of not doing what we really want to and believe in is way greater than following the proven norms.
Most of us fail to make decisions that we really want to, instead choose to do what is right. Often our perception of what is right is influenced by somebody’s opinion and suggestions. Although, we live in times where there is easy accessibility to infinite amount of resources to help us do whatever we want to, yet we are unable to make decisions without having to consult. On the surface we are very independent and self sustainable though deep within we have grown to become parasitic. So spoiled by help readily available we have stopped making decisions by our own and end up landing in an ocean of regrets,self pity, and melancholy. However, it is never too late to stop being so dependent and to take the first step towards being true to ourselves. Yes, there will be a lot of questions but the answers will flow naturally. It is never too late to stop judging ourselves and start complimenting our flaws. There is nothing unique about what seems to be right yet there can always be something unique and right about what seems to be wrong.
One of these days try making a decision by weighing out the opportunity cost of what you truly believe in. One of these days try living with no regret and make a bold move. One of these days try applying a little economics to your life.