Thursday, February 23, 2023

Counting the Cost

 When I was in my M.B.A. program, I had to take a finance class and an economics class.

Now, if you know me, the creative me, I am not the crunching-the-numbers person, although I do pretty well with managing budgets and schedules, I am not fascinated by running pivot tables or differential calculus. Watching the trades on the stock market never excited me.

That said, there were a couple things that I do remember from the classes that are on my mind this morning.

The time value of money and the law of diminishing returns.

The former essentially means that if you invest and let it sit, the money will eventually grow exponentially so it is best do start young, that is, if you have anything to start with in the first place. Even a little bit, kept over time, will grown to a lot.

Mustard seeds, if you will, a small level of faith in starting something will eventually become quite large if you have the patience and resist the fierce-urgency-of-wanting-it-now.

The second principle was the law of diminishing returns.

When you want something, or accumulate something, at some point, it begins to bring less satisfaction, less of the same excitement.  

In economic terms, it had to do with the life cycle of a product or program, at some point it will reach it's peak where the benefits outweigh the costs of it and it has everyone in the happy place of what that product or program is able to offer.

My professor talked about it in terms we broke graduate students could understand - pizza or donuts that would be offered for "free" in the commons on certain days.

The first slice brought satisfaction and seeing all of it, there may have been the want to take more or horde more for later on, but in all actually, after about the second slice, it was just, "blah." Even the best pizza in my college town would lose its appeal with having too much of it.

So in my reflecting on life and counting up the costs of all the programs, all the conferences, all the events that have flooded my inbox, I have been thinking about and weighing the benefits of it. 

Have I reached the point of diminishing returns and am no longer excited about paying a lot of money, buying airline tickets, booking hotels, buying clothes, packing, and flying across the country to hear essentially the same people I've heard for the past five years give essentially the same kinds of talks? Am I no longer the target audience for this and like a new marketing campaign has to reach new audiences, I'm not worth the investment in trying to get me to attend? Is it not worth the investment of my time when there are other opportunities that may be more enriching for me and where I am in my life?

$3440 for three-and-a-half days. 

Great speeches and talks and workshops that if I wait a day, many are posted online.

Missed fellowship, that time can not be renewed, choices have impact.

$3000 for a week in a couple months for a summer institute.

Great benefit and building dividends.

$2000 for a summer gathering that is an inaugural.

Opportunity worth the investment.

Counting up all the costs.

©2016-2023. Antona B. Smith. all rights reserved.

We only have one non-renewable resource - time.

It goes by so quickly, in a blink.

I'm looking back at thirty-six years and after having a conversation with my oldest son, pondering the next thirty-six years and where I want to place that investment of my seconds, minutes, hours, and days.

Has the value of being seen in the place reached the more money invested in going to things is producing less of a profit for my work? 

Perhaps I need to change the variable, the input of it. Like a marketing campaign, I remember when Coke and Pepsi started adding other flavors and if you look at their website, they've expanded their portfolio beyond just their original soft drinks because there is only so much Coke and Pepsi that would appeal to their original audience. Even great commercials were not going to expand their market share in just that soft drink.

We can get to a saturation point, maybe that is what it has been for me, especially after the pandemic.

I'm at a cross roads in life, like many of my peers, who are new empty-nesters, well, for us, an emerging adult and a freshman in college is the last of our crew.I'm not longer needed in the day-to-day operations and management of this household in the same ways I was needed in the past twenty, thirty years.

Time, as mentioned, is that non-renewable resource, that we don't get to get back.

Right now is right now.

Something may be good and may even been a good idea, but it may not be good for you overall, it may not produce as satisfying a result if it is the same thing you have had for year, over year, over year.

The law of diminishing returns.

So then the thought shifts to the cost of doing something else.

That excitement of a new idea, new conference, new program and the investment of time and money in the building phase of what it could possibly be.

Then to reach the highest point of it with the most desirable return, is also the point to consider as that arch will inevitably start to go down with fewer and fewer benefits, what do you do next?

We are always facing a new and next, if we look at each day like that.  

I'm counting the cost of several endeavors, knowing that time is limited and not everything is going to produce a great benefit.

Saying no is just as powerful.

Not going is just as rewarding.

Just that. 

©2023. All Rights Reserved. Watching the day unfold, sipping my latte, not worrying about a thing.

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