Opportunity Cost

Opportunity Cost

Choosing one path has kept us from another. The difference is called “Opportunity Cost.”  As we reflect on our past, we may say, “Gee, I’m glad I did!” or “Gee, I wish I had…”  John Greenleaf Whittier wrote, “For all sad words of tongue and pen, the saddest are those “It might have been”.  Choices yield consequences and ramifications that may last a lifetime.

Socrates sought genuine knowledge. Even in debates,  he pursued truth open-mindedly, rather than mere victory over an opponent.  He famously said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.”

Karl W. Palachuk wrote an interesting article about the subject in his blog, “Relax, Focus, Succeed.” Here is an excerpt:

When you set aside time to examine your life,  You get to choose your destination;  You get to set the goals; You get to determine the path; You get to decide how long it will take; You get to decide whether you’re on the right path or the wrong path.

In other words, you begin to know your self and to take control of your life. You decide who you want to be and begin to become the person you want to be.

Robert Frost wrote in one of my favorite poems,

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
I distinctly remember when the roads diverged for me, and I left college teaching to become self-employed. I also remember several other momentous occasions when I made choices with huge ramifications. George Bernard Shaw, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1925, was asked, while on his death bed, “If you could have been anybody in the world, who would you have chosen to be?” He answered, without hesitation, “The George Bernard Shaw I COULD have been, but wasn’t.”
Jessie Belle Rittenhouse has been quoted thousands of times on his poem:
I bargained with Life for a penny,
And Life would pay no more,
However I begged at evening
When I counted my scanty store;
For Life is a just employer,
He gives you what you ask,
But once you have set the wages,
Why, you must bear the task.
I worked for a menial’s hire,
Only to learn, dismayed,
That any wage I had asked of Life,
Life would have paid.
As I examine my life, I consider these quotes with some regrets and some satisfaction, but mostly with determination to make the most of the time I have left. I am consoled by the Pareto Principle (80/20 Rule), because I estimate that I have at least 20% of my life left and therefore I can potentially accomplish 80% as much as someone could in their whole life! 😉


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