Say No To Anything That’s Not A Priority

“There is surely nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency what should not be done at all.”

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Simple definition of opportunity cost

It’s a major concept in economics. Simply, opportunity cost represents the potential benefits that we miss by choosing one option over another.

Risks of ignoring opportunity cost

Since there’s usually no concrete price, it’s easy to overlook the cost of hypothetical opportunities. But we’re always faced with these costs everyday, even if we’re not aware of it. If neglected, opportunity costs will negatively impact our life, career, and relationships. There are two main risks.

1. Working on autopilot

A career that’s on autopilot means you’re working without getting anywhere. I’ve been there, and it feels hopeless. You show up, put in your hours, go home, and get paid. Rinse, wash, repeat. But you end up with nothing: No important knowledge, experience, or assets.

“There is surely nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency what should not be done at all.”

2. Missed ROI

Could you be spending your time on something more effective right now? There are many things we do that don’t give us a return on investment. Because that’s what our time and resources are: Investments.

Prioritize your options

So what does all of this mean? If you want to become more aware of opportunity costs in your career, start prioritizing the things that matter to your work.

  1. Offer quality products — My blog generates income through offering courses and books. No income? No blog.
  2. Acquire new knowledge — I’m constantly learning new things. Without that, I can’t publish new articles, books, and courses.
  3. Listen to readers — This helps me to stay connected with the people who read my blog. The input from readers gives me feedback and inspiration to keep improving.
  4. Other stuff — My list is longer, but the ranking is not that important beyond my top 4. Prioritization is all about knowing what’s most important. If everything is a priority, nothing actually is.

Personal example: Don’t get ahead of yourself

Let me give you an example to show you how difficult that is. Even though I have my priorities straight, I still come up with new ideas and immediately start working on them. But along the way, I realize it doesn’t align with my top priorities. And I could’ve done something else with that time.

Eliminate options

Our first ideas are not always the best. Just like my decision to create one course over the other. I should’ve weighed my options more strategically, before diving in. In this case, the deciding factor was my priority, “listen to readers.” I ignored that when I created the course about remote work. My readers actually wanted the business course more.

Written by

Creator of the Stoic Letter | My best-selling online class ‘Effective Writing’ opens January 17. Learn more here:

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