Opportunity Cost (Journaling Exercise)
There’s a difficult decision ahead of you, and you’re not sure which path to take.
You’ve probably already considered the pros and cons of each alternative, but in this journaling exercise we’ll look at your decision through a different lens: opportunity cost. That’s because every choice has a hidden price: not benefiting from the alternative choices.
You can think about it as protecting space.
Every decision you make takes “space” (eg. your time, energy, money), leaving less space for other things in your life. Depending on the space required for a particular alternative, it might be more effective to say “no” just to protect the space for other more important things that can emerge.
In other words, by saying yes to an opportunity, you’re simultaneously saying “no” to alternative choices. And identifying the thing you would rather not miss out on can often be the best way to point you towards the right decision to make.
The exercise takes around 15 minutes. All you need is a journal and a pen.
Note: You can also implement your subconscious processing to boost this exercise, by skipping the final step, and only engaging in it first thing in the morning on the following day (similar to the Most Important Question).
You can either journal along with the video I made for you (12m), or do it in your own time.
One important caveat: this exercise works best for considering a single option. If you’re torn between more options (eg. option A and B), then use the exercise for one of them, and if you don’t reach a conclusion by the end of the exercise you can run it again for another option.
Here’s how it works:
Moment of grounding (1m), to transition mindfully into the exercise (eg. 10 conscious breaths, or meditative drawing
Journal setup and stating the decision (1m)
Journal: If I choose this option, what am I missing out on?* (3m)
Journal: If I don’t choose this option, what am I missing out on?* (3m)
Journal: What does my heart really want?* (3m)
Journal: What is my decision? (optionally leave overnight and write first thing in the morning) (1m)
Here’s how you could set up your journal for this exercise:
You can then flip the page to write in each section, like this:
Note: this is just how I like to work with this exercise. Feel free to use any layout that works for you.
Guided Exercise Video
I’ve recorded a video where I’ll guide you through the process as you journal along.
Questions and Insights
Here are some things that came up for my in a recent decision I made:
- While it seemed like a simple decision, it actually runs much deeper than I thought.
- Thinking about what my heart really wants makes the decision quite clear to me, even if I wasn’t sure what to pick before the exercise.
- Reflecting on what I would be missing out on helped me understand what are my priorities
If you’re curious how I’ll put these insights into action, you can get my Moonly Reviews.
And if you’d like to share your insights, I’d be delighted to hear from you!
Note: We also created a different template for the opportunity cost exercise (and 40 other journaling exercises) in this article.
Opportunity cost is just another framework that might help you navigate the complexities of your life. While certainly useful, it won’t replace a regular review practice – a space where you identify the obstacles preventing you from unleashing your full potential, and commit to actions that will overcome these obstacles.