We make many decisions every day and our criteria for making them often vary depending on our current priorities.
Sometimes the decisions we need to make can be simple or obvious, whereas as other times, there many be a number of factors we have to take into account before we can make an intelligent decision.
One factor that can helps us choose our priorities better or make decisions that will serve us, both in the short and long term, is by considering opportunity costs.
What is Opportunity Cost?
Opportunity cost is also referred to as competing interests. It’s the cost of giving up an alternate activity while a person engages in a current activity. It’s the comparison of the value of one activity against another.
Using a typical everyday example, say a person has the choice of either spending two hours of an evening watching television or spending that time learning a new skill that will help them in the future. The opportunity cost of watching television may be deemed to be high by the person compared to the future benefits of acquiring a new skill.
In that case, because the opportunity cost of watching television is higher than learning the new skill, it’s very likely the person will choose to invest that time learning the new skill.
Sometimes opportunity cost is determined by a sense of loss. A person may imagine, by doing a particular activity, they may lose something else in the meantime.
Knowing how to use opportunity cost better can speed up our decision-making process and also reduce the amount of mental energy used when evaluating options prior to making decisions.
Have you ever made a decision based on what other people would think of you and your decision, instead of what you really wanted to do or have?
It’s not uncommon for us to be influenced by other people’s opinions especially if we’ve been conditioned to worry about “what the neighbours will say” or “what will they think.”
While there are times when taking advice from others who may have more knowledge or experience than us can be useful, most times, we should choose what will be best for us or move us closer to a goal we want to achieve without violating the rights of others.
Motivational speaker Les Brown often says, “Don’t let someone else’s opinion of you become your reality.”
The dangers of being concerned about other people’s opinions include:
- We’ll be easily influenced by others.
- We won’t develop our decision-making abilities.
- We’ll always be looking for approval or validation for things we want to do or have in life.
- We won’t be as self-confident as we want to be.
- We wont challenge ourselves to set lofty goals.
While everyone is entitled to their thoughts or opinions, ultimately, we’re responsible for doing what we think is best for us.
When things don’t go our way or we don’t achieve our goals when we expect to, it can be very easy to start questioning our abilities or intelligence.
We often tend to be our harshest critic and unless we have a healthy level of self-confidence and self-esteem, criticising ourselves will only cause us to feel worse.
It’s rare that while in the pursuit of something meaningful and worthwhile, things will always work out to plan. It’s inevitable we’ll make mistakes, which may lead to unexpected challenges and roadblocks.
It’s during such times that we need to remind ourselves we did our best and still have the knowledge, skills and abilities we had prior to making those mistakes. What we learn from such experiences will be invaluable as we pursue bigger goals in the future.
One or multiple failures does not define our level of intelligence. If we’re in the habit of making the same type of mistakes over and over, then we really need to question what we’re doing. On the other hand, if we’re doing certain things on a regular basis to improve ourselves, then those are signs of a smart person.
It’s a widely known concept that our thoughts determine who we become and the reality we create in our lives.
Numerous books have been written on the power of our thoughts including:
- The Magic of Thinking Big
- As a Man Thinketh
- Think and Grow Rich
- The Power of Positive Thinking
- The Science of Getting Rich
As our thoughts dictate how and what we experience in life, it’s important that we become better at directing our thoughts in order to be more creative and become better problem solvers.
Many years ago, Voltaire said, “No problem can withstand the assault of sustained thinking.” The concept of critical thinking is just one technique that can be used to generate intelligent thoughts that can be directed towards creating positive outcomes and problem solving.
What is Critical Thinking?
According to the dictionary, critical thinking is the objective analysis and evaluation of an issue in order to form a judgement.
According to the Critical Thinking Community website, critical thinking is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action.
Put simply, critical thinking is a process or way of thinking that facilitates the achievement of specifically defined outcomes.
We all deal with situations in life differently. While one person may find a particular situation stressful, another person may be quite comfortable with it.
As a result, how we overcome situations we consider stressful will be different. There aren’t techniques that will work for everyone, which is why it’s good to be aware of different things we can do to deal with stressful situations.
What is Considered to be a Stressful Situation?
Here are some examples of stressful situations. While this may not be a complete list of stressful situations, whether at work or life in general, it’s good to be aware of what can cause stress for others.
- Losing a job.
- Having a conflict with a colleague or team member at work.
- Receiving bad medical news, either personally or for a family member.
- Having financial difficulties.
- Witnessing a crime or being involved in a crime.
- Getting ready or planning for a holiday.
- Losing something valuable.
- Getting engaged or married.
- Offered a new career opportunity.
- Dealing with death of a loved one or close friend.
Each time we experience a situation we deem to be stressful, it’s always helpful to have tools and techniques to be able to cope with them.
The great thing about life is our biggest lessons are often learned after we’ve made big mistakes. And we’ve all made our fair share of mistakes.
While we don’t intentionally try to make mistakes, when we do, it can be painful, uncomfortable and sometimes, even agonising, especially if we keep thinking about what we did or didn’t do.
If we’re not careful, reliving our major mistakes over and over again can lead to:
- Sadness or depression.
- Loss of self-confidence.
- High levels of anxiety.
- Low levels of performance and effectiveness.
- Less willingness to try new things or take new risks.
The good news is we always have a choice. We can choose to do what we can to move on and ensure we do not repeat similar mistakes again in the future.
As we are relying on technology more than ever before to recall and remember things, having a trained memory can be a big advantage.
If we think back to just a couple of decades ago, when we didn’t have smart devices, we tended to rely on our memory to remember numbers, facts, dates and names. Since we didn’t have tools like we have today, we really didn’t have much of a choice but to remember things any way we could.
Having a trained memory is a critical skill to master if we want to differentiate ourselves from others. Just think what type of an impression we can make if we meet someone for the first time and can recall things they say, including their name.
If we cannot remember a person’s name, the message we give off is we don’t care enough about them, and there’s a very high probability they won’t like or trust us.
I was first exposed to memory training a few years ago when I watched a video of Ron White, a two-time USA Memory Champion, give a presentation where he was able to recall the names of at least fifty audience members and was able to recall twenty or thirty digit numbers easily.
That sparked my interest in learning memory techniques, which I still continue to do so today.
Getting adequate sleep every night is a vital practice if we want to have better overall health and be at our best.
The subject of sleep has becoming quite popular in recent times with books such as The Sleep Revolution by Arianna Huffington and Sleep Smarter by Shawn Stevenson shedding new light on why sleep is so important for us.
Arianna Huffington also gave a TED talk on the subject, which now has had over four million views.
The costs of not getting enough sleep or sleep deprivation is becoming widely known as more studies are done on the subject. Some of these costs, especially to our health, include:
- Anger and irritability.
The old belief or saying, “If you snooze, you lose” is being questioned because all the research is now suggesting that we cannot be at our best if we’re not getting enough sleep each night.
If we want a life that’s rewarding and meaningful, we’ll have to do new things and take on new challenges so that we can have new experiences.
As we make progress towards things we want, it’s inevitable we’ll encounter obstacles along the way. A good thing about obstacles is that they can help us get a lot clearer on what we’re doing or what we’re trying to achieve.
The better we deal with obstacles, the quicker we’ll get to where we want to be.
The Different Kinds of Obstacles
- Internal — These can include our habitual way of thinking, our beliefs, behaviours or mindsets. Most times, once we overcome our internal obstacles, other obstacles tend to disappear.
- External — These can include other people, our environments, our geographical location or the economic climate we’re faced with.
The way we deal with our perceived internal and external obstacles will determine the quality of our results and how soon we achieve what we want.
Everything we do in life is driven by our desire to experience certain emotions. At our core, we have a deep desire to be happy and feel positive emotions.
We go about acquiring those emotions in different ways. For some people, it may be having a successful career. For others, it may be being a great parent. For someone else, it may be doing charity or volunteer work.
As we go about our daily lives, it can be easy to lose our connection to the big picture about life. In the pursuit of what we believe will bring us happiness, we sometimes forget some simple or brutal truths about life.
We always need to keep sight of the important things in life and not let our busyness act as a mask for how we are living our lives.