Half an hour on Facebook, another one of those hilarious cat videos, and oh what the heck, throw in an entire series of Breaking Bad and 24 while we’re at it. Why not? They ain’t costing anything, right?
Wrong. Everything in life has its price. EVERYTHING. Even the teeniest, most tiny crumb-like scrap of something has a cost. And, ladies and gentleman, this cost is your time. And what does time translate to? Opportunity.
“Time is precious.” We’ve all heard it, but do you know how precious? It’s common knowledge that your time is a FINITE RESOURCE. But do we live our lives as if time is finite? For most us, no.
Imagine someone told you the exact date of your death, so you knew exactly how many days you had to live. “Hey dude! You have only 10,000 days left to live!” Would you then take better care of your time?
One of the great myths our there is that “Life is short.” But is it ACTUALLY short?
Seneca, hit me up, brother:
“It is not that we have a short time to live, but we waste a lot of it. Life is long enough, and a sufficiently generous amount has been given to us for the highest achievements if it were all well invested. But when it is wasted in heedless luxury and spent on no good activity, we are forced at last by death’s final constraint to realise that it has passed away before we knew it was passing.
So it is: we are not given a short life but we make it short, and we are not ill-supplied but wasteful of it.” – Seneca, ~ 5 A.D
Time is finite, and everything costs time. Time = opportunity, so we don’t want to waste it. And because we don’t want to waste it, let’s start measuring EVERYTHING in our life in terms of OPPORTUNITY.
Let’s talk about opportunity cost.
Opportunity cost: noun; the loss of other alternatives when one alternative is chosen.
For example, you spend half an hour on Facebook. The opportunity cost is the value of how you could have spent that half hour. For example, the opportunity cost could be learning some Spanish vocabulary, or reading a short book, or working out.
Before we go any further, do a quick audit on your life. How much are the things you do every day costing you in opportunity? How much opportunity are you PAYING and SACRIFICING to do what you’re doing now?
Done? Let’s dive into a concrete example.
She commutes to work 20 minutes each way every day in her car, and she spends the time listening to the radio. If you asked Jane “What’s the cost of your musical commute?”
Mathematician Jane would tell you that it’s about £5.30 in fuel, ± 10% to factor in seasonal variations in the road surface, plus 1/365 of the insurance and road tax she’s paying, plus a few extra pence thrown in there to make her car smell like apples.
But Jane isn’t a mathematician, so she’d say about £5 a day.
And in fact, mathematician or not, Jane is wrong.
Because her musical commute costs far more than this, because she’s forgotten about OPPORTUNITY COST.
What’s the opportunity cost of her commute? Well, how much is she paying in OPPORTUNITY to listen to the radio for 40 minutes a day?
Great question. Let’s see. Well, instead of listening to the radio hosts talk about the worst type of sandwich to serve your mother-in-law, Jane could spend the 40 minutes listening to a business podcast; downloading the mind-set, secrets and habits of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world.
She could be listening to a 40 minute language learning programme. She could be listening to an audiobook, to gain some knowledge. She could be listening to a kick-ass biograph to develop some courage. She could be investing in herself in an INFINITE number of way for 40 minutes a day, 200 minutes a week, or 4800 minutes in 6 months.
That’s 80 hours.
80 freakin’ hours!! Holy shit, Jane! Wake the hell up! You’re pissing 80 hours into the wind here!
Can you imagine what Jane’s life would look like if she instead downloaded 80 hours of wisdom from the wisest people in the world direct into her brain?
Imagine if how wealthy YOU would be if you listened to 80 hours of Warren Buffet. Imagine how empowered you’d feel if you listened to 80 hours of Anthony Robbins or Eric Thomas. Imagine how happy and spiritually fulfilled you’d be if you listened to 80 hours of the Dalai Lama in 6 months. Imagine how many tools you’d have to revolutionise your health if you listened to 80 hours of a health & fitness guru?
But no. Jane doesn’t want new skills. She’d trade 80 hours of Warren Buffet for inside tips on how to make killer sandwiches for her mother-in-law, gossip and music any day.
Would YOU be willing to pay 80 hours of life-changing knowledge for 80 hours of gossip and top 40 hits? Would you pay the opportunity cost?
I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t. That sounds pretty scary to me.
Let´s take another example -the quintessential Scottish past-time of getting hammered on a Friday night, leaving you hungover and useless on Saturday.
“Haha, what are you, Iain? A loser? You never look back and remember the nights you went to bed early.”
No, you certainly don’t, pal. But I reckon you’ve got to be living a pretty mediocre life if the best memories you have on your death bed involve retching your guts out in some hole-of-a-night-club toilet.
So, what’s the opportunity cost of Friday night “antics”. First, there’s the opportunity cost of spending £20 on drinks.
You could of spent that on buying 4 inspirational biographies, on a cheap plane ticket to another country courtesy of EasyJet, or going on a hot date with someone.
But that’s just the beginning. Let’s say you spend 4 hours out on the town on Friday night, then waste the entire Saturday hung over. Total time cost of a night of YOLO is 16 hours.
Well, damn, son. That’s 64 hours a month, or 384 hours in 6 months.
384 hours. Daiyummn.
That’s a shit-ton of opportunity that you’re “not remembering” because of you went to bed early. In 384 hours, you could easily learn to speak another language or two, complete Tai Lopez´s 67 steps 6 times, or read a monstrous pile of books. You could’ve gone to a ton of life changing conferences, volunteered somewhere and improved the world, gotten pretty damn ripped in the gym, built an extension on your house….
384 hours! That’s freakin’ insane!
In YOUR life, how much are you paying for what you’re doing in opportunity? How can you best spend the time that you have? How can you seize and devour the juicy fruits of opportunity all around us each day?
To get all scientific on y’all, consider Fig. 1.
As you can see from the graph, as opportunity costs increase, the awesomeness of life decreases.
Yet the myth pervades that doing things that have low opportunity cost (i.e walking, reading, working out) are not enjoyable in the short term. In actual fact, in general, the lower the opportunity cost, the more awesome the short and long-term rewards.
For example, you have an hour free on week day evenings. You could either (A) be like the majority and watch TV, or (B) go for a walk.
“Yeah, but going for a walk sucks. Who wants to go for a walk?”
Well, what’s the opportunity cost of watching an hour of TV vs. the opportunity cost of going for a walk?
Things you gain by watching TV…. Hmmm. Feeling of hopelessness? A life of quiet desperation? You tell me.
Contrastingly, what do you gain SHORT-TERM by going for a walk?
You can listen to an entertaining yet informative podcast, and download some knowledge into your brain. You can spend an hour thinking and coming up with creative solutions to your problems, which relaxes you, as does the nature around you. You get a mini-rush of endorphins from the exercise, you get fresh air, and you get exercise, helping you sleep like a baby at night. And sometimes you might go with a friend, so you could get some socialising satisfaction while you´re at it.
So really, the short-term rewards of walking make TV have a HUGE opportunity cost.
And this is NOTHING compared to the long-term opportunity cost you’re paying by watching an hour of TV a day.
Imagine if you went for a one-hour walk every evening. Imagine what how much knowledge and ideas you’d having swimming in your brain, and what you’d be able to do with it. Imagine how much more effectively you’d destroy the challenges in your life. Imagine how much healthier and relaxed you’d be. Imagine how much more satisfied you’d be with your social life if you spent 1 hour walking with a friend each weekday evening.
It all begs the question: Why the hell would anyone watch TV?
The opportunity cost is ridiculous.
So, again, think on your own life. What’s the opportunity cost you’re paying for doing what you’re doing?
Here are some areas to think about:
- Driving – you could be taking public transport and reading/ chatting up strangers/ reflecting on your day/ coming up with business plans….
- Holidays. What is the opportunity cost of going on a “resort” holiday? Like seriously, you could be doing so much more. Going out and experiencing a different culture, eating delicious food, practicing a different language, meeting new people…
Bill Gates used his holidays to devour books. He’d spend 2 weeks just gaining knowledge from books. I’m not suggesting taking a library with you, but come on. Is spending 2 weeks sitting on a plastic chair next to a pool, eating mediocre food the best you can come up with? Come on. Opportunity cost, people.
- Showers. Taking a 25 minute hot shower vs. a 3 min cold shower. Cold showers are quicker, toughen you up, make you feel epic, kick your ass into gear for the day, and give you time to do something else afterwards.
- People. Spending time with negative people – you could be spending time with positive people instead. People who give you ideas, who support you, who make you laugh…
- Status Quo. Not rocking the boat and doing a career you don’t enjoy, don´t learn anything new, and are just doing it for the pay check. I’m pretty sure that’s a pretty hefty opportunity cost you’re paying for the status quo right there.
Questions for You
- What is the activity in your life that has the highest opportunity cost?
- What are you going to replace that activity with?
Write the answers down in your journal, on a piece of paper, or leave us a comment below.
As Always, Dream Big Start Small!