Remember what I said about making obligation obsolete earlier? I think it’s much easier said then done. Why do I say this? Because there are many things that I simply don’t want to do.
For instance, I have a dentist appointment today that I sorely want to miss. The idea of abandoning my trusty laptop and cozy room for the sterile examination chair just doesn’t appeal to me very much.
Striving to find an objective way to urge me to go, I think about my appointment on a cost-analysis basis. But I’m not thinking in dollars and cents. No, I’m thinking about opportunity cost. For those of you who have never taken an introductory course on microeconomics, I highly recommend that you do so. (Economics is awesome!)
Opportunity cost is the cost of an alternative option that I had to forgo by choosing another. Sound complicated? It’s not. Take for example choosing to go to college rather than immediately joining the workforce. By going to college, you forgo the hourly salary you could’ve earned working at a certain firm or company. But opportunity cost isn’t just about money, it’s also time, the most fluid and abstract commodity of them all!
When you go to college, you sacrifice hours of your time studying, when you could have used it for more pleasurable pastimes, such as videogaming, blogging, hula hooping, whatever. However, by choosing to go to college, you’re making an investment for far larger returns in the future! But that’s a discussion for later…I don’t want to get too sidetracked.
So when I go to the dentist, my opportunity cost is the time I could have spent at home, blogging, reading, and writing the hours away. And yet, I have much to gain from going to the dentist. For one thing, I should gain a more comprehensive understanding of the state of my teeth. I stand to briefly expose myself to a clinical environment where I might want to work someday. And last, but certainly not the least, I might be compensated for my efforts with a smiley pencil or sticker of some sort. Alright, I know my last incentive was pretty weak, but hey, I’m looking at all of my options.
My reluctance to go to the dentist aside, I really do think that considering the opportunity cost of our daily activities gives us a better understanding of what really motivates us. And this in itself could help to alleviate that terrible reluctance that we experience when we think about something that we heartily don’t want to do.
Like making a visit to the dentist.