Opportunity Cost

Posted by Ken Campbell February 21, 2009 0 Comment 801 views

I took an Economics class years ago, for some reason that must have been important at the time. I am not particularly good with numbers, and money has never been a passion of mine, so I don’t remember much of what I supposedly learned in the course, but there was one concept that has stuck with me over time. Although I struggled mightily to understand many of the economic principles that were taught, I immediately got the idea of Opportunity Cost. Opportunity cost or economic opportunity loss is the value of the next best alternative foregone as the result of making a decision and it implies the choice between desirable, yet mutually exclusive results. (Thank you, Wikipedia.)

The essential truth is this: If you decide to do something, part of the cost of doing that thing is that you must give up the benefits that might come from doing something else.

I’m thinking about this idea now that I am soon to start the Hood Canal section of the Puget Sound Challenge (less than a week away.) In order to complete the route in a relatively short time, I’m no longer planning to do the Anderson Pass/Enchanted Valley backcountry traverse that I had been planning for March. I’ll be spending those 5 days on the water instead, hopefully rounding Foulweather Bluff and working my way back south through the Sound.

I’m looking forward to getting started and I believe it’s going to be a fantastic trip. I expect that I will see and experience some amazing things. I will not, however, have the pleasure of topping out on Anderson Pass on a blue-sky, winter day. I won’t see the wild expanse of the Pacific from high on an Olympic crest or hear the falling rain on a forest canopy. I might see whales (it could happen), but I won’t see mountain goats. All these and more comprise my opportunity cost, the things I will miss because of the choice I’ve made. The road not taken, eh?

Regrets, when we have them, seem to arise less as a result of the things we’ve done and more from the things that we have chosen not to do. Life is one big opportunity cost. Choose wisely.

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