Understand Opportunity Costs to Find Balance among Priorities in Your Hectic Life

Life in today’s society is so busy these days, we barely have time to do the basics - eat, shit, and sleep.
So many things to do. So little time.
24 hours are not enough in in a day!
Can we have 30, 40, or even 60 hours?

This is especially true for those who have to spend hours working overtime and/or commuting in traffic. This not only takes away a good chunk of time, but it also takes away energy that could be expend on other, and perhaps more meaningful, activities - family, friends, beer, NBA, other hobbies…

So we know we are too busy these days. Way too busy.
So… nowwhat? What can we do? How do we deal with such crazy lifestyle?

Everything we do fit somewhere in our list of priorities, and everything we do are the results of our choices. Life by itself is nothing. Life becomes something when we take action, and each action follows a choice we make. Within every choice, there are opportunity costs, time and effort taken away from doing something else.

That is why it is important to figure out your priorities in life. Your success in life is based on your priorities. If things you do everyday is very low in your priority list, I’m sorry to say that you maybe “failing” in life, subjective to your own standard. If you spend all your time doing things that mean little to you, you will not have time to do things that are meaningful. In summation, you life will be meaningless, until you choose to do otherwise.

You can do anything if you want to. You can achieve many things if you want to. However, you cannot do everything. It’s simple as that. This is the gist of opportunity cost.

Jason asked me in his last comment…

Can a peron be simultaneously sucessful in two areas with out making any compromises? For instance can a woman enjoy her mommyhood as well as a fabulous career? A super mom and a super career woman - is it possible?

I would say it is possible, but it won’t be easy. It takes a lot of effort to raise a child and eventually build a meaningful relationship. A fabulous career will mean lotsa time spent working, and it will take away time to spend with the child, as an opportunity cost. Or, if the husband is willing to sacrifice more to care for the child, his time and effort will be the opportunity cost, along with a weaker bond with the mommy. This is a very complicated situation and depends on a lot of variables. However, it is obvious that it is very difficult to find a balance between these two priorities. I may even go as far to say that it’s one of the most difficult. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be so many women, courageously, giving up their own careers to become stay-home-mom. Whatever solution one may have to become a super mom and a super career woman, there will be opportunity costs in other areas in life, be it health, be it hobby she loves with a passion, be it other family members. Something will be given up.

Take myself as another example. Learning piano and reaching a certain level of mastery is one of my most important goals, and I am very clear and stern about this goal. I must (and have) make a lot of choices to achieve this goal, and all these choices incur opportunity cost. First of all, money spent on lessons that I could spend elsewhere. And then the fact that… at the same time of my learning piano in about the past 3 years, I have also been religiously going to gym to weight train and do various other exercises to get and stay in shape. However, I must take care not to strain myself and become too sore, nor hurt my hands, nor go too often as to tire myself out (together with school and work), so I can practice my piano daily with minimal handicap (I do my best to practice daily). Also the time I need to practice means I have less time to go out with friends, read, and do many other things. Though, the advantage is that this saves me money from going out too often. Didn’t I say having hobby can save you money?

In a nutshell, life is all about choice. Each time you choose and then perform an action, you gain something for a priority, and you lose something for another priority as opportunity cost. Since you only have a limited amount of time and effort, it is very very important to choose action that is relevant to your more important priorities and to balance your life to your set of high priorities. I cannot stress this enough.

As I just spent almost an hour writing this, I lost an hour I could spend to sleep, play piano, read… such is life.

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