Maximize Your Energy Through Trade-offs and Specialization in Life Choices

Your life is a game of trade-offs. You spend x units of energy on x thing in order to gain something from it. You only have a limited number of energy and focus units.

Each life interest you pursue comes with a cost per benefit units returned. Some examples of this might be:

  • cooking vs. ordering food
  • family life, relationship, friends & social life
  • job, income, career, financial planning
  • travel \ serendipity
  • skill development \ hobbies
  • home improvement \ DIY vs. hiring specialists
  • health choices \ exercising frequency
  • renting vs. buying a house

All of these life choices require a certain amount of your energy and focus. So how do you determine the right balance?

It’s good to start from the idea that nothing is given that you have to have. Some people eat take-out food instead of cooking. Lately I’ve preferred this as well. I know how to cook some things. But I know I can outsource the meal, pay a premium and enjoy great food. I am able to support my cravings for Taqueria Traspasada, even if it is more expensive. I want to leverage this trade-off to get a meal from someone who is a better cook than me. I also like supporting local businesses. All I have to do is pick it up from the restaurant. Plus it saves me the time spent shopping and preparing the meal, which I can use to write blog posts! 🤓 Or instead use the time to learn to speak German and French. J’habit a Chicago a Logan Square 👋

Some humans have no interest in seeing their family. Others are very tightly woven into the fabric of their kin. Introverts and extroverts will fall over the spectrum in what they deem an adequate social life. (But we’re all pretty much even on this front in this pandemic world it seems.) Ultimately time given to others could be invested in yourself. However, humans are social animals and we benefit greatly from our bonds with our friends and family.

My point is that you should not assume that you have to be a good cook. But cooking is a rewarding and useful habit to cultivate. Maybe someday I’ll get back into it more regularly!

You should pursue home improvement and DIY if it is interesting and fun to you. But I will hire a contractor if I ever need any work done on my home and leverage their specialization. Actually, I’ve avoided this choice altogether by renting an apartment instead of buying a house. I don’t plan on buying a home anytime soon. That’s my preference in this trade-off.

Renting instead of buying is also more conducive to my yearning for serendipity, which is a life more mobile and free with less rigid or even no employment. But right now I am greatly benefiting from stable employment with a successful company. Less vacation now is a trade for financial stability. But maybe someday I’ll have both? Either way, someday I’ll backpack the world. 🌍🌏🌎

Relevant Economic Theory: The Law of Diminishing Marginal Utility

In college, my economics professor likened this law to eating Big Macs from McDonald’s. The first Big Mac you eat gives you the most happiness units. The 2nd Big Mac gives you some happiness, but less than the first one because you are full. A 3rd Big Mac would give you even less happiness units. Hopefully you don’t eat more than 3 Big Macs in one sitting, it won’t give you very many happiness units. 😆

The Law Of Diminishing Marginal Utility states that all else equal as consumption increases the marginal utility derived from each additional unit declines. Marginal utility is derived as the change in utility as an additional unit is consumed. Utility is an economic term used to represent satisfaction or happiness. 

– Will Kenton, Law of Diminishing Marginal Utility – Investopedia

When allocating your energy and focus units, keep in mind this law. Maybe going out with your friends more than once a week gives you diminishing marginal utility. Maybe those units will be better spent on other activities and will bring greater joy per energy unit spent.

In conclusion, carefully consider all of these trade-offs when designing your ideal life. Be cautious of putting too much of your energy and focus units into any one of these. But there’s no right or wrong balance. The key is to think about your preferences, seek them out and constantly re-evaluate your trade-off decisions. Consider deeply what you really want and run towards it.