Getting Comfortable with Opportunity Cost

There is a particular kind of anxiety that can come with being Constantly Connected. Natalie Houston describes it well in her Prof Hacker post “Are You Missing Out?” in which Houston explores the anguish du jour: Fear of Missing Out.

I get it.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Foursquare, and Pinterest make us instantly aware of what our friends are doing right this moment. That’s kinda nice. The downside: being constantly aware of what my friend are doing becomes constant awareness of what I’m not doing. I’m not at the beach. I’m not at the concert. I’m not eating at the restaurant. More interesting than this petty jealousy is the resulting compulsion to share the trivia of my life so I can participate in the What I’m Doing machine.

Nothing wrong with this in doses. Unchecked, it can make a person neurotic.

Which brings me right around to something I’ve been wrestling with lately. With iPad, iPhone, iPod and social media, I have superhuman powers to communicate, participate and share with the entire world. Literally. I am more well-informed and better positioned to have real influence than ever before. Because of this reach, I am being stretched in more directions than ever before.

I can see for miles in every direction but can’t always seem to easily focus where my attention is most needed. Focus takes effort.

Focus, I think, will become the defining trait of personal and professional success in my years ahead. Time to start practicing the art of applied vision, truly seeing where I look. This is the principle of opportunity cost. Every accepted opportunity limits the ability to pursue another, different opportunity. Our reach is not infinite. I can’t do everything. Time to stop thinking so much about what I am going to do and start marking the harder, more rewarding choices about what I am going to intentionally miss out on.

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