We make thousands of decisions every day. Those decisions add up to become the person we eventually become. Like it or not, you are the product of every decision you have made so far: good or bad. If you have ever attended an economics class, you must have heard of opportunity cost. In very simple terms, if you had ₦1,000 today and had to decide whether to buy shawarma or yahuza suya, the option you chose not to buy is the opportunity cost.
Life also presents us with opportunity costs. Some of them are paid for in lost productivity (which an economist will argue eventually lead to lost income). Picture this scenario: You are in a job you hate but the salary is really good. Will you continue to do the job or send in your resignation letter and start doing what you like? (If you say you will quit without sitting down to do some thinking then you have been listening to too many “aspire to perspire” speakers). Do you stick with paid employment or start a business?
Another scenario: You are a freelancer. You got a nice gig that will require you working over the weekend. Meanwhile, your friend invites you to hang out on Saturday. Do you go out with your friend and hope the deadline gets extended or do you knuckle down and try to earn a living?
Every decision you make today has a hidden cost. The cost might be the loss of a gig, the opportunity to have a great weekend or even just the chance to rest. How you make those decisions reveals a lot about you. I am not going to tell you what you should choose in any scenario. Regardless, what you do, it is important you know what your values are and what drives you. When you do, you are more likely to make consistent decisions that won’t leave you feeling guilty.
A young, single man with no dependents might choose to leave a well paying job in order to pursue his dream of starting a music career. A father of two might find it more difficult to resign and go record a studio album. It doesn’t mean any of the decisions are wrong. They are driven by different motivations.
The next time you find yourself caught between two choices, ask yourself:
- What will I be missing out on?
- Is it worth it?
Being able to make consistent choices in line with your values is a very important skill. Clayton Christensen once said “It’s easier to hold your principles 100 percent of the time than it is to hold them 98 percent of the time.” I couldn’t agree more.