What’s your deepest desire?
What is it that you want above all else?
Admittedly, not easy questions to answer.
We humans have many desires. Some are more important than others, but when it comes down to it, we want it all.
We want that new house, that shiny car, the big salary, and the freedom to travel.
We desire a beautiful husband or wife, good friends, and a loving family.
And we should! These are all amazing things to attain.
But what if you have two desires of equal importance? What if two of your deepest wants are mutually exclusive?
Let’s say, for example, that you value your career, and the best place for your job is out of state. But you also value your significant other, and there’s no way that they’re moving. They’ve made that much clear.
What do you do? Which way is right? Where’s your life going to end up?
Well, I’m here to tell you that there is no right. Or that there is, and it’s whatever direction you choose.
An Opportunity Cost is Always Positive
Are you familiar with the idea of an opportunity cost? Well, for those who aren’t, an opportunity cost is “the loss of potential gain from other alternatives when one alternative is chosen.”
Basically, it’s the other thing you give up when you make a decision.
So, if you decide to take that out of state job, the opportunity cost is a failed relationship with your significant other. Conversely, if you decide to stay, the opportunity cost is career advancement.
Opportunity costs can even be quantified. Choosing to stay put to appease your boyfriend / girlfriend / husband / wife could result in a loss of income. If you believe that your lifetime earnings would be $100k higher if you move, then the opportunity cost of staying is exactly $100k.
But what about the opposite? How can you quantify the loss of love?
You can’t, of course.
Which brings up a few interesting points. When we look at opportunity costs, we’re focusing on what we’re giving up rather than what we’re gaining.
If you stay, for example, you may give up $100k, but you’re rewarded with a lifetime of love. If you go, you may end a budding relationship, but the career opportunities are endless.
Which means that the opposite side of your opportunity costs are always qualitative. How can you quantify boundless opportunity or everlasting love? Again, you can’t.
Therefore, the potential you give yourself by choosing one desire over the other always outweighs the cost of the decision. As long as you’re following your heart and making the best choice for you, the ROI (return on investment) is always positive.
Your Trajectory is a Positive One
Potential always supersedes the cost of giving something up. No matter what you do and regardless of where you go, you’ll always be facing an opportunity cost.
However, if you make the best decision possible based on the available information, the upside becomes greater than any potential downside.
Why? Because you’re living the best version of your life.
Sure, if you decide to stay and marry your sweetheart, your lifetime earnings may be less. But who cares? You’ve chosen the best life for you. The one that’ll yield you the most happiness, and that’s all that matters.
Therefore, how could you not stay?
Your life is full of boundless opportunity. Yes, there are costs, but if you make decisions based on these costs rather than the infinite potential of your life, you’ll set yourself up for failure.
Rather, choose to focus on the benefits of a choice instead of the downside. Because there will always be downsides. But there will always be upsides, too. And as long as you follow the upside, your life will be rewarded with opportunity you never saw or predicted.
And there’s the rub: We can quantify the opportunity cost, but we can’t put a number on unseen opportunity. But there’s opportunity wherever we go, which means we should only go where we want.
The fact of the matter is that we’ll never know if a decision we make is truly right or wrong. There’s no going back, and try as we might to apply revisionist history, we can never be sure.
But, if you trust your gut and make decisions that feel right, you’ll know that you’re headed in the right direction.
Because, hey, there’s no blueprint to life. There’s no right or wrong way. You might as well follow your heart.
Seems to me that wherever your heart is, that’s where you want to go. Opportunity cost be damned.
Evan Tarver is an author, nonfiction writer and editor, screenwriter, and small business owner with a background in finance and technology. Overall, the content he creates is meant to shift the way people think and encourage them to act. Some ideas explore the social environment on the macro level, some ideas explore the transformative power of personal growth on the micro-level, while most fall somewhere in between.