Stuck in an Opportunity Cost Loop

I want to do all the things, both as a consumer and as a creator.

Part of the freedom that comes with being my own boss and running my own business is the freedom to choose the projects I want to do. There are financial limitations to this, of course, as bills still need to be paid and mouths still need to be fed. Even so, if I want to take the time to pursue a new passion, I can do that. There are just too many new passions I think I might want to pursue and I end up getting stuck in a rut.

An Insatiable Appetite for Knowledge and Entertainment

We have access to an embarrassment of riches these days. If anything, it is more difficult to separate the signal from the noise than it is to find something that might make us think, laugh or cry. And I want to consume it all.

There’s traditional broadcast television and I’m having a very hard time keeping up with my PVR. There is the bottomless pit and the unwavering allure to binge-watch on Netflix. I’ve recently discovered podcasts again. I want to read more books and listen to more audiobooks. And let’s not forget about the ceaseless wonders of the Internet with YouTube, blogs and all the rest of it.

But there are only so many hours in the day. By choosing to watch Fuller House on Netflix, I am also choosing not to play Street Fighter V. I am choosing not to catch up on the new X-Files series. There is a definite opportunity cost involved, which is further exacerbated by my gut feeling that some entertainment is more “valuable” than others. I can expand my horizons or I can passively consume some nostalgic comedy.

The Burning Desire to Make Something Creative

Much more unsettling, at least for me, is the opportunity cost in choosing what it is that I want to create. The “idea” stage of any new project is understandably the most exciting and the most all-consuming.

Because it ultimately got pushed to the back burner, it took me about three years to write and publish my own book. I’m in the midst of writing another, but my attention is divided through so many other possibilities. I want to start a podcast. I want to produce more YouTube videos. I want to write a comic. I want to sketch and doodle more. I want to launch and grow more blogs.

But when I find myself juggling so different responsibilities, it quickly becomes impossible to get anything done. While working on a new book, my mind wanders to the opportunity cost of not working on starting a podcast. Or investing in video production. Or playing and streaming video games.

The Opportunity Cost of Opportunity Cost

Time is the most limited and the most precious resource we have. There’s never enough of it and by trying to pursue any of the interests above, both in terms of consumption and in terms of creation, it can be awfully tempting to circle back to chase something else. We walk in a circle, never committing ourselves to complete any one journey. That is the cost of contemplating opportunity cost.

I’m not sure I have an answer to this conundrum. Maybe I need to pick one thing and just go with it, not worrying about what I might be missing out with those other potential pursuits. Do you suffer from a similar affliction? How have you learned to manage it?

Image credit: Miguel (Flickr)