Family Magazine

The Opportunity Costs of Life Decisions

By Lisaorchard @lisaorchard1

Hello everyone. I hope all is well with you. As I watched the Olympics the other day, I started thinking about all the sacrifices these athletes make to compete in the games, and that started me thinking about opportunity costs and life decisions. What is opportunity cost?

The Opportunity Costs of Life Decisions

Photo credit: burge5k via Visualhunt.com / CC BY

The definition is:

The loss of potential gain from other alternatives when one alternative is chosen.

Opportunity cost is why some people become paralyzed when making a decision.  They’ve got so many options available to them they can’t decide which one is the best.  So, how do we make these choices and hopefully not regret the choice we’ve made?

Well, first of all, you have to decide how to measure the value of each alternative. This is where it gets sticky. Because how do we measure the value? Is it by how much money we’re going to make with a choice? Is it by how we’ll be remembered by family and friends? Is it by the instant gratification the choice will give us?

The Opportunity Costs of Life Decisions

Photo credit: cameraburps via Visual Hunt / CC BY-NC-SA

The answers to these questions are deeply personal and can only be answered by each individual. There is no blanket answer for any of us, but here’s how I make most of my major decisions and maybe it’ll help you with yours.

I look at how I want to be remembered. Yes. I know it’s kind of morbid, but I think about what people might say at my funeral. Do I want them to talk about how I worked so hard I never saw my family? Or do I want them to say, how I was an inspiration to my kids, and how I helped provide for both their emotional and physical needs? Do I want to be remembered as someone who created a showpiece of a home, or someone who wasn’t too hung up on what people thought if my house was messy?

The Opportunity Costs of Life Decisions

Photo credit: brownpau via Visual hunt / CC BY

When I ask myself these questions. It puts things into perspective. I don’t want my kids growing up thinking that what other people think is more important that their own opinion, so I have to live that way myself. I want my kids to have good memories of their childhood and not live in an environment where they can’t build forts or make brownies because I’m hung up on what a mess it’ll be. Because of this, I have to deal with people occasionally seeing a messy house.

I can deal with that. The joy on my kids’ faces when they build a huge fort is worth the cost of people thinking I’m a bad housekeeper. I am bad. There’s no mistake about it. I don’t enjoy cleaning. I’d rather be writing. So we’ve got clutter.

But I digress. By looking at how I want to be remembered, I was able to make that decision to stay home with my kids and feel good about it. There are times when I’ve had doubts because staying home meant I’d have to make sacrifices.  I’ve sacrificed all the income I would’ve brought into the home if I worked instead. This was a huge opportunity cost of my decision, and made the choice hard because security for me and my family is also important to me.

So loss of income was a huge cost of my decision, but what about the gains? The gains are important because they offset the costs. This is where deciding what we value comes into play. What I’ve gained from staying home is a great relationship with my kids. I don’t know about you, but the value of that is priceless. I can’t put a number on it.

The Opportunity Costs of Life Decisions

Photo credit: elviskennedy via VisualHunt / CC BY-NC-ND

I’ve also got well-adjusted kids (knocks on wood). They don’t have behavioral issues because I was able to focus on teaching them how to handle their emotions like frustration and anger. I get compliments from their teachers all the time. They tell me they wished they had a whole classroom full of my boys. I’ve even gotten these compliments from teachers who haven’t had my kids. They’ve just witnessed my boys being kind and considerate to their classmates. Now, my goal wasn’t to receive pats on the back from my kids’ teachers (although it is a great feeling when they say things like this). It was to raise healthy well-adjusted humans. So, when their teachers make these comments I know I’m on the right track and again that gain is priceless.

The Opportunity Costs of Life Decisions

Photo credit: daystar297 via Visualhunt / CC BY

Please understand I’m not saying a working mom can’t raise well-adjusted kids. All I’m saying is that staying home worked for me and it was worth the opportunity costs.

:)

So there you have it. That’s how I make the major decisions in my life. How about you? What are your opportunity costs? How do you make your decisions? Leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you!


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