27 Jun 2018, 22:24

Did X in Y, without Z

Many people reflect positively on things like glide years (a year long-ish trip between jobs, schools, or opportunities), saying: “I had great memories in France, Italty, and Croatia during my 6 month trip”.

What they often leave out is what they had to forsake: training, mentoring, opportunity costs related to finances, building community, networking, and so forth.

It’s critical to understand that everything has an opportunity cost. That includes generating fun memories in foreign countries, which often upon reflection become pure positives, but do have concrete costs. Of course, practical things like language learning are not exempt: becoming a master in golang, or Spanish, means that time is no longer allocated for trying out functional programming, or Portuguese.

When deciding on how to spend the next day, month, year, or other amount of time, try to answer this question before starting:

What will I do (x) in y time? What will I forsake (z)?

This is a good way to frame questions like: Should you do a “glide year”? If so, what should you actually do? Should I quit my job to start my own business?

Or for reflection on the past:

I did x in y [time units]. I had to forsake z.

This provides context for big and small decisions. Watching a 7 hour YouTube movie, for example, may have a significant cost if you’re able to bill $150 per hour to a client.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that decision should be vetoed, but keep in mind opportunity costs when both making and reflecting upon decisions.