Opportunity Cost – knowing is not enough

In preparing for an interview recently, I noted that I favour opportunity over security.

There are all sorts of reasons why this might not be wise, but one that’s all too often especially true for me. It’s about the nature of ‘opportunity cost’, which is the realisation that taking the opportunity to do one thing, you cannot do a different thing at the same time (or at least not nearly so well). Choosing to do ‘this’ costs you the opportunity to do ‘that’.

Every evening there are a few hours when the day job is done, I’m not yet ready to sleep and I can choose how to use this time. This is the best opportunity to plan and progress towards my personal goals and yet I regularly accomplish very little during these hours. The hours pass, I sleep, and then days, weeks, and ultimately years roll past without nearly so much learned, achieved, or enjoyed as I might have done. I’ve often assessed and made a decision about what I’d like to do, ideally, then fallen into the trap of doing nothing of any value with the time (that will never come again).

Would more clearly defining ‘this’ – the stuff I want to do – help me avoid the drift into doing ‘that’?

I’m not sure it would (I’ve tried a number of methods and tools), even though I clearly understand the concept of opportunity cost. Even though my notes (based on very sober self-assessment) show that I favour opportunity and must generate my own security. Being motivated to do something is not the same as understanding what one can gain through the choice then – at least not for me!

I’m delighted to have been successful in the interview, incidentally. It’s a great opportunity and I’m consciously stepping away from a much more certain future. Knowing this, I must be sure to stay motivated and also to use my evenings more wisely!

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