You’re reading this instead of watching another funny video, reading Trump’s latest excuse for tweeting or continuing your Netflix binge. Thank you. I appreciate you investing time to read something that might make you think and reflect a little. Hopefully the return on your investment is enough to offset the opportunity cost of your time.*
You simply can’t do everything. Compromise is a reality of life. Yet we still find ourselves wondering if we’re missing out on the fun our friends are having at any given moment… without us. There’s even a term for this now: FoMO (fear of missing out). OK fine, so you are missing something. Hopefully, it’s because you’re doing something else of value – or in other words something that you chose to do. Value doesn’t always equal fun or immediate gratification, but as long as it’s intentional why sweat over whatever else is going on in the world?
Take the Long Term Perspective
Are you studying right now? Good, it’ll pay off in the form of knowledge or a credential or more money (hopefully all of the above). Are you working out? Good, it’ll increase the number of years you can remain independent. Be happy you’re making that choice. Going to sleep early? Great, you’re going to wake up rested tomorrow and probably extend your overall lifespan. Watching Netflix? That’s cool too, you can discuss it with coworkers tomorrow.
But what about that one friend who never sleeps and still excels at everything? Whooptidoo. Not everyone is born with the same body and health. What about all those friends who are traveling the world and seeing every cool thing there is to see on the planet? Good for them – enjoy their pictures and get back to whatever it is you decided to do with the time and resources you have available. Or, stop doing what you’re doing and invest your time and money to go on a trip. It’s really up to you. You can dwell on your network’s curated versions of themselves or you can get up and go do stuff.
More Extravagant Doesn’t Mean More Happiness
This is where I want to revisit the ROI concept. Bhumi and I drove down 5 hours and spent about $300 (hotel/gas/food) and a vacation day to see something that was only going to be visible for 2 and half minutes (and the clouds blocked out the middle 1 minute 30 seconds of it but I’m not bitter @#%!). But, for that relatively small investment, we have a lifelong memory of the absolute coolest most spectacular vision you can have while on earth with us to cherish. The excruciating 12 hour (yes twelve, one-two hours instead of the five that it should have taken) drive back home will just add to the memory.
Was it as cool as the week diving in Belize? No, but diving cost 10x this trip. Will remembering the dives bring us 10x joy in the future? That’s hard to say, but I’d put my wager on “no.” Both will bring smiles to our faces. Both were vivid enough to steal my thoughts away from the present with little effort. What more can you ask for?
I often think back to the genuine happiness of villagers I’ve met in India for perspective. They lived in tiny homes (without the bells and whistles of those featured on HGTV), have minimal possessions, and are unencumbered by what everyone else is doing in the world. But, they’re enjoying the life they have.
There are unlimited experiences to be had, unlimited concerts to go to, unlimited Broadway shows to be seen, unlimited sporting events to do attend, unlimited hikes, unlimited movies, unlimited restaurants, unlimited sites to see. You can’t do it all. No one can.
Just Do It
If something is THAT important to you, consciously decide to pursue it with all your energy and forget about everything else because the rest of it matters less [than what you’re pursuing]. Last year we spent the most we’ve ever spent on a single sporting event, $300 a ticket for a Cubs playoff game. That may seem preposterous to some of you reading this. Others may think that’s insignificant. To us it was worth it. Some of you may decide that money is better spent on a plane ticket to visit a new city or on several nice restaurants (or at Taco Bell for an entire year). That’s because everything is relative. Remember that.
You can’t look at what everyone else is doing to decide if you should be there instead of where you are. Look at what you’re doing now and accept that you’re doing that because of choices that you made. You decided to be where you are at this moment. And that’s what’s cool about what you’re doing. That’s what makes what you’re doing and who you’re with and where you are special.
I missed out on a lot of short-term fun and probably too much sleep when I was working on my t-shirt business. I also missed out on a lot of short-term fun during my last 1.5 years of college because I tried to have too much short-term fun the first 2 years. I made choices that put me a bad academic situation, and I made choices that helped me get out of that. Missing out was never part of the equation when I was focused on increasing my GPA. Missing out was never an issue when I was making designs for RAAHI. And I never worried about missing out when I was pursuing my MBA. Missing out is not a concern when I’m at XSport swimming laps present day. These are my choices, and my choices will get me to wherever I want to go. Or they won’t. Either way it’s on me.
There Is No Such Thing As Missing Out
Make conscious choices and forget about missing out. Missing out is a B.S. concept. The opportunity cost of worrying about the fluff on Facebook is too great. Invest in the right things to get the return you want and deserve. Give more weight to what you value. Give yourself permission to forget everything else.
End main rant.
*SIDE RANT: we really need to be teaching people ROI and opportunity cost at a young age. I don’t know that I heard those terms until the latter half of high school. And I certainly didn’t understand the long-term opportunity cost of using debt for college and the significance my short-term choices could have on the return on that investment.