In life, I am frequently aware of the opportunity cost of the decisions we make. Opportunity cost is a term I first learned in Economics class back in high school. It refers to what you are giving up when you make a choice.
For example, if you have $100 and you use it to buy a Nintendo game system like I did when I was a kid, you don’t have that money for something else. You can’t buy pizza for all your friends or rent an arcade for an hour for your birthday party with that money.
On a side note, it is incredibly interesting to me the possibilities of what can happen when money is invested and given a chance to compound. For me, diverting money to take advantage of this incredible opportunity truly seems like a worthwhile cost.
Whether you are investing your money in Nintendo systems or stocks, there’s an opportunity cost because that money can’t go somewhere else. So it is in the rest of our lives. If you live in Albuquerque, you can’t live in San Francisco… that is, not exclusively. Sure, you could own homes in both places, or you could travel extensively to both places, yet even those things have an opportunity cost, requiring planning, time, and money to accomplish.
I am quite aware of the opportunity cost I “pay” for the choices I have made in my life. I could be somewhere else, doing something else, yet when I think about such things, I am reminded of the value of where I am and what I am doing. I feel a sense of satisfaction, not because there isn’t an opportunity cost, but because, all in all, I feel that my life is serving me in a deep level.
I heard a great phrase awhile ago when I did the Landmark Forum. I’m embellishing a bit here, but basically they said, “In life, you often get only one choice: Chocolate. So choose chocolate!” In other words, choose your life. Look for reasons to feel good about it. Find things to appreciate about it. If you are sitting there, complaining and dissatisfied, you are missing the boat on a central spiritual fact: your life is what it is. You are spending time in it. On some level, you have chosen to keep it the way it is. Surely it must be serving you!
And if it truly isn’t, then you can change it. Yes, you can!
In investing, if you really are unhappy with your investments, you can change them! When it comes to investing, my goal is not to avoid hindsight’s sting of regret. It’s easy to look back and say, “I shoulda done this!” or “I shoulda known better!” Man, that’s easy to do… after the fact, after everything is said and done.
It seems much harder to make the best of things when they are actually occurring. Sure, everything has its opportunity cost, but if, over all, you find yourself satisfied, then you know you are doing something right.
Because the life you are living may be the greatest opportunity you’ve ever had.