Weighing Your Options: Understanding Opportunity Cost


By Kiley Peters. "Opportunity cost," by definition is "the loss of potential gain from other alternatives when one alternative is chosen." Now, I'm not trying to throw economics in your face, but think about it for a moment - every choice has a cost, even if it's not money and even if it's not significant. Even not making a choice costs something.

I bring this up because I think it's a concept that applies to each of us every day. Life is all about making choices and understanding your options, but so often we only see half of our options - the ones that present themselves if we actively make the choice. But what about the ones that happen if we don't make the choice - if nothing changes?

Think about your life. I'm sure there are aspects you're enamored with and some that aren't so great. Let's focus on those areas for improvement. Now, change isn't easy, but sometimes it's worth it. Take a relationship, for example. Say you are in a relationship and it's mediocre at best, but to make a change and break up would be difficult and messy and you'd have to divvy up whose copy of The Great Gatsby is whose and you don't want to go though that. So you see the possible outcomes of staying with that person. However, the opportunity cost of this situation is that you aren't giving yourself the time to explore you on your own or find someone who really makes your heart sing. Someone who can really make you happy, not just content. Are you ok with that? Have you considered what you might be giving up by not actively doing anything?

All too often I think we, as people, tend to settle. I have a personal mantra that I refuse to settle. Life is too short to dance with ugly men, skip brunch with the girls or settle. By settling you achieve nothing but mediocrity and that's a grey area I don't recommend for anyone.

Enough of my hemming and hawing. Here are a few questions to ask yourself about the opportunity costs of your decisions:

  • Is this something that makes me proud? My dad always told me to make my mother and grandmother proud. So I advise you to do the same.
  • Does this challenge me - in a healthy way? No one grows if they aren't challenged. Don't be a doormat or a couch potato. Get up and get going.
  • Do I respect this? Respect is so important - in people, in your work, in yourself - in everything.
  • Am I being honest with myself? You can tell whatever story you want to your closest friends, but is it the truth?
  • Could I do better? If you can do better, go do it. Flee. Now.
  • Does this make me happy? Happiness. Among all of the other things life is too short for, it is far too short not to be happy. So if you aren't happy, do yourself a favor and right that wrong. You'll be so thankful in the long run.

We all have areas of improvement, but the goal is to live the best, healthiest and happiest life, right? Sometimes we need a love tap to remind us that we're worth it. Every ounce of happiness. Every mimosa at brunch. Every Starbucks latte after the gym. L'Oreal Paris tells us all the time: Because you're worth it.

Now go weigh those options, dig into those opportunity costs and go get it girl!