Which costs do you want to pay?

Category: [On Life]


2min read

Everything in life comes with a cost. Income comes with tax. Success comes with stress. Love comes with emotional baggage.

Some of these costs are “happy problems” to have. For example, the fact that we may complain about income tax means we probably earn more than enough.

Other costs can be more developmental in nature. They may help us develop a strong work ethic, a stoic mentality, a loving personality, an upsized circle of competence.

Recognizing the costs to everything we have in life, forces us to think whether these costs are worth incurring.

Think of what society typically considers as a successful person. Most likely, we conjure an image in our minds, something that looks like high income, high societal status, beautiful spouse, one or two or three children, expensive house, expensive car, expensive clothes, and expensive food.

Now think of the costs associated with this image of a successful person. High stress, high expectations, high spending, high-strung state of mind, high competitiveness, high environmental footprint. Sounds awful when we put these together in one sentence - but I would be pretentious if I were to say to get rid of all these costs, and lead life like an ascetic. I won’t be able to do that myself either.

The truth is in the middle - we actually don’t have to get rid of all these costs at once. We are free to choose which costs we would like to pay for, and reap the benefits. The beauty of modern life is this freedom to do largely what we choose to do.

So rather than always thinking about and setting goals, think instead about the costs that you want to pay, that you are willing and able to pay. You may find this perspective more useful.