opportunity cost

Every thing you do in life has a cost. This is a truth there is no way around. In every moment of every day you have a choice to give up something in order to receive something in return. The hope is that you will give up something you value less for something you value more. That’s called trading up, and that’s what smart people do. Are you being smart? Think about the currencies of your life and how you spend them. Are you overpaying?

You over pay when you either over value your purchase or under value your currency. This can happen when you decide to play a role with a specific web of expectations, lack confidence and self-worth, or think you need to play by someone else’s rules. Mistakenly believing you do not have a choice to seek out alternatives, or do things in a different way, causes you to pay more for things than they are worth. You never asked yourself one simple question- what are you willing to pay?

So, ask that question now. Ask the question each time you are about to pay for something. In life, many payment types are accepted. Aside from cash you have the amount of stress something brings, your health, your time, your friendships or relationships, and your freedom. That is not a comprehensive list either. There are so many different accepted types of payment at the check out counter of life. So, in each situation where a major decision is required, ask yourself, what am I willing to pay for this?  

Making decisions is that simple.

I can tell you right now our natural inclination is to go on a mindless spending spree, giving away all of our greatest currencies for things of lesser value. The difficulty you face is not paying in time, health, or freedom, but in knowing when to not pay. Saying no is hard.

When you do not pay because the cost is too high, be okay with your decision. We feel like a failure if we stop short of someone else’s ambition, or don’t live up to the expectations set by those close to us. But, none of that really matters. Are you happy? Do you feel good about the decision you made? Perfect, then you are not overpaying for anything. When you make the decision to not endure the cost than own that. If you do not then you will never be happy.

For example, if you refuse to give up a relationship for a promotion that would take you out of the state for work then be happy with that relationship. Do not look at the thing which once brought you so much joy with resentment. In that instance, you might as well have just paid the cost anyway because the relationship is already dead. In reality, you wanted to pay the cost, but held back out of a sense of propriety. 

We are afraid to not pay because we worry that means we’re compromising. In reality we are getting exactly what we have always wanted. Of course, this only works if you know yourself. If you don’t know what you want out of life then you mistakenly pay for things you do not want or need. In doing so, and then discovering the error of your ways you can become jaded to the world and think that life is just a game of balancing the tension between what we think we need to pay for and what we want to withhold paying for.

I can already see the objection- But, Hank, some times you don’t know what a thing is worth and at times may pay for something that ends up being a bad decisions. Or, maybe you passed on something that in hindsight you would now pay for.

For those missed opportunities, big whoop! More opportunities will come your way if you keep looking at the road ahead instead of at the path behind you. For those situations where you have paid and then find yourself somewhere you don’t want to be, you can always stop paying?

In those instances you default on your loan as you refuse to invest any more of your currency in to the exchange, and, just as a default can be slightly messy and potentially embarrassing, the reality is that you pick yourself up and move on. The worst thing you can do is realize you’ve overpaid for something, and then continue to over pay because you are afraid of changing your situation. 

Often you won’t have an answer to what you are willing to pay, and that is ok. So, if you do not know your cost, be self-aware enough to know when that cost arrives which is too high and be okay with saying no to paying it. If you don’t know what you are willing to pay, then approach all situations with the full understanding of what you will pay. In each instance can you stomach the cost you’ve laid out? If so, pull the trigger. If not, then don’t pay. You do not want to wake up years from now and realize all of the things you acquired mean nothing to you, and that you have exchanged your most valuable assets for trinkets.

You can pay now, or pay later, but you must pay. No one, I repeat, NO ONE, avoids paying. In this truth not only lies the key to your freedom and happiness, but also your acceptance of the bad that exists in the world. Those that bankrupt themselves out of laziness, maliciousness, or depravity will reach a point when they cannot afford to pay for things anymore. Since they have valued their currencies so little, others will too, and they will be disrespected and disregarded, empty and lonely. These people end up poor in the things that matter while you will end up with assets that pay dividends and a heart filled with every bit of wealth imaginable. 

Where you put your currencies of life is entirely up to you though. Spend wisely.

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