Opportunity Cost

In his Akimbo podcast, Seth Godin teaches us how to adopt a posture of possibility, change the culture, and choose to make a difference. Here are my takeaways from the episode.

In this podcast, Seth discusses the concept of opportunity cost.

Time is an interesting concept. We constantly make decisions about how to spend our time. We spend our time like a resource, but that is a relatively new concept for the modern world.

When we make decisions on how to spend the time, we treat time as a resource, such as money. We ask whether something is worth us spending the time. But often we missed the more important question. The question we should be asking is “What is the opportunity cost?”

Opportunity cost is the economic idea that every moment we spend time, we are choosing what not to spend it on. If we get just one empty plate for use in a buffet line and no more, what would we put on the plate? What items would we take to make sure we will stay full for as long as possible after finishing the plate?

Time works the same way. Everyone has the same equal amount of time, 24 hours a day, and 365 days a year. The fixed amount of time available raises an interesting psychological behavior. When we have a resource that is plenty or limitless, we get bored with it.

But time is not limitless, and we are hooked on opportunity cost. We are emotionally hooked on constantly making this choice about how we will choose to spend our time. So, one of the key questions of our lives is “Are we going to pass the time or spend the time on something purposeful?”

We all can think of a period in our lives where we merely passed the time rather than spending it on something meaningful. What opportunity costs did we incur by letting the time pass by without doing anything with it?

Of the many resources available to us, time is the only thing that is truly under our control. If we were put in prison for 50 years, someone has taken away our freedom, but they have not taken away the way we can engage with our time. When we in front of the Internet with all of those things available to click on, what options are we giving to ourselves on how to spend our time. What narrative are we telling ourselves on what the time will bring to us and how we look at opportunity cost.

We may not have a time machine to go back years and to relive our lives over knowing what we know now. We, however, can always ask ourselves this question, “If we had yesterday to do over, what would we do differently?”

This naturally begs the question of “Since we do have tomorrow to do over, how will we choose to spend it?”