Life Rants

Opportunity Cost and The Price of Saying Yes

Opportunity Cost – noun, used in Economics
Definition: the loss of other alternatives when one alternative is chosen.
E.g.: “idle cash balances represent an opportunity cost in terms of lost interest”

– Oxford Dictionary

No, we’re not going to talk about finance here, it’s way out of my lane. So here’s my take on what opportunity cost is.

Living in modern technological times, we’re always pushed to say ‘YES’ to anything from helping a colleague out to going out on a dinner that you didn’t want to go at the first place.

Because it is convenient to say Yes. Because otherwise, you’re obliged to give a reason that might be seen as an ‘excuse‘. And the idea of having an excuse is kryptonite to many youngsters these days as we are constantly exposed to the entrepreneurial mindset where motivated young people aren’t supposed rest, relax, or reject anything they are presented. This is referred to as ‘hustle porn’ by founder of Reddit, Alexis Ohanian in a presentation in Lisbon.

As if we’re supposed to consume, comply, and chip in our time and effort into every single thing that ‘might’ be beneficial to us in our goals, no matter the goal. We have this idea that everything is connected, that if we place all our of soul into succeeding, and opening ourselves to possible opportunities the best that we can, we will make it somehow.

But, have we stopped to think that being occupied all the time doesn’t only bring in possible new opportunities, but also fatigue, emotional stress (which can increases cortisol in our brains that leads to a cascade of negative health effects that I’ll be discussing here [coming soon]), and eventually burnout (a stage where a person is mentally and/or physically exhausted to a point of tipping).

Here’s a simple case to illustrate my point:
You have a full time job and you’re always working (like 12 hours a day) to prove yourself in the company so that you can make more money.
You have a goal to have a great body, so you have to make time to go to the gym frequently and spend time to cook every single day.
You also have a significant other (be it girl or boy) that not only wants you to be around more but actually need it for the relationship to thrive.
These 3 mains pillars of your life are already taking up at least 18 hours of your day, which only leaves around 6 hours or less for sleep.

Here’s the catch, if you’re trying to improve all these at once, while trying to build a side business or answering to friends’ hang out sessions, you are literally stretching yourself too thin.

Some of the signs that you’re saying ‘YES’ to too many things in life:

  1. If you say ‘YES’ to hanging out with your friends while sacrificing sleep since you already have so much on your plate.
    • Sleep is THE UTMOST IMPORTANT activity in our lives as explained by Dr Matthew Walker in his book ‘Why We Sleep’ (Review here)
    • Lacking of sleep will cause a cascade of health issues that is detrimental not only to your body but also your performance at work, gym, or in bed.
  2. If you say ‘YES’ to starting a new venture/ business with your friend while juggling a full time job/ workout schedule/ and home responsibilities.
    • It all looks pretty on Instagram when people refer to you as an ‘entrepreneur’, however it’s pointless if you’re not putting your best into your potentially great business no matter the cause.
    • If you aren’t handling your current situation well and you barely have enough time to relax while not doing anything, don’t even dream of starting a new business.
  3. If you label yourself with more than 3 things in your IG bio.
    • Yes, your bio will look amazing with multiple titles like ‘Entrepreneur’, ‘Engineer’, ‘Marketer’, ‘Husband/Wife’, ‘Fitness Enthusiast’, ‘Runner’, ‘Powerlifter/Bodybuilder’, but nobody significant in history has been known for more than 1 amazing achievement at once (Elon Musk was the CEO of Zip2 from 1995 until 1999 and that was his sole focus that time, he then proceeded to helm Paypal from 1999 to 2000, then continued his career starting his new venture SpaceX in 2001).
      Okay, Elon Musk might not be the best example but he should a poster-child for someone that excelled in early years of his career but as he piled the responsibilities on, his relationship with his wife suffered, he had troubles sustaining a relationship being on and off relationships even though being a millionaire.
  4. If you barely have enough time to sit down and relax at least an hour a day after fulfilling all your responsibilities.
    • The mind needs to rest from all the work it’s done all day, sleeping doesn’t count if you’re not aiming at least an 8-hour sleep every night.
    • The brain needs downtime as well, now more than ever as we are constantly exposed to instant information in front of the screen from our laptops and mobile phones to the electronic billboards we drive through every single day.

Whenever you’re inclined to say ‘YES’ to anything extra next time, think again, think about what would you say No to in order to accommodate your new activity.

Then evaluate which gives you more joy 1 day, 10 days, and 100 days from now:
Saying Yes to the new thing
Saying No to the many things that you are already on your plate.