Life Is A Game Of Economics

A couple of days ago, over Spanish lattes, I waxed philosophical with a close friend. Both of us are Biomedical Engineers, and the only reason we became friends is because we arrived early to class one day, realized we never really… talked to each other, and then when it came up how we were both Business Administration minors, we figured, yeah, we should be friends.

The start sounds pretty superficial, yet our current conversations are anything but. A recurring theme from these caffeinated chats is how life is a game of economics. Let me repeat that. In bold.

Life is a game of economics.

Out there is a definition: Economics is the study of scarcity and choice.

Out there is a TED Talk: Bjorn Lomborg: Global priorities bigger than climate change – go watch it. This is one of my favorite TED Talks, shifting the discussion from global problems to global solutions, and then discussing how to use a limited resource, money (scarcity), to fully implement specific global solutions (choice). Here’s a hint for the rest of this post: take a shot every time he mentions prioritization.

Let’s think about scarcity as applied to what you put into life, and what you get out of it. ‘Scarcity Thinking’ assumes there is not enough in the world for everybody; it is fear-based.

Look at that guy over there. He’s so rich and cool and happy. He has it all. Why can’t I have it all? He sucks.

Scarcity Thinking is oh so negative, and is the opposite of what is espoused in ‘The Secret’ by Rhonda Byrne, which is ‘Abundance Thinking’. This reframes how we give value to reality via a mindset where there is enough in the world for everybody, including you; it is love-based.

Look at that guy over there. He’s so rich and cool and happy. He has it all. I might not think I have it all right now, but I will. He’s alright. (And so am I.)

These are two ways to think about what you get out of life, where the idea of there not being enough is a depressing thing. When applied to what you put into life, ScrumOfOne contends that indeed there is not enough, where this is both a realistic and empowering outlook. (Empowering? Yes. Stay with me.)

One more opposing juxtaposition: Scarcity Thinking for consequences of your life actions is fraught with limiting beliefs (heck, by definition). Yet when applied to the life actions themselves, it’s these same limiting beliefs that reflect the reality of what you can give at any one time; you only have so much time / focus / attention / energy / chi / cash / other resources.

Let’s put it all together. When thinking about your future (life outputs), think big: Abundance Thinking. When thinking about now and what’s next (life inputs), think small: Scarcity Thinking.

Let’s now think about choice regarding how to use the above list of what you have, which we’ll call funds: using the fund of cash, using the fund of focus, etc. (I’m phrasing this in an abstract manner to show they can all be thought of and treated the same way.) When you choose to use the money fund for a pair of shoes, you are also choosing to not use this same money fund for a fedora. When you choose to use the time fund for a few episodes of your favorite show on Netflix, you are also choosing to not use this same time fund for the latest movie in the theaters. Thus, the allotment of any of these elemental funds comes at a cost, which economists call an opportunity cost.

Every damn decision, every damn day, has a damn opportunity cost.

Let’s rephrase. Life is the result of not just what you choose to do, but what you chose to do in the context of what you chose not to do.

If you had an unlimited supply of time and money right now, an abundance of each elemental fund right now, you could end up doing all things. I’m not talking about how much of these elemental funds you could have in the future (nudge nudge, we’re practicing Abundance Thinking for that, remember?). I’m talking about right now. If you choose to buy a pair of shoes instead of a fedora, you are choosing a pair of shoes over a fedora. You might want to get both some day, but right now, you are choosing one first, over the other. Acting on your preference is acting out your prioritization.

That, ladies and gentlemen (girls and boys, children of all ages, and all the ships at sea), is the point of this post:

Life is a game of economics, a game of being comfortable with scarcity to make choices via prioritization.

How is this empowering? (Thank you for staying with me.) Once you realize you can’t do everything right now, this takes the pressure off; you can only ever do the next thing. That is what is under your full control: the now. Yes, complete small steps with the purpose of completing a larger step, enjoying the smaller completed accomplishments along the way, but realize the focus is on now and next. Embrace the scarcity of your funds right now, and make choices for now and next, using prioritization.

This makes me giddy because this life-level prioritization is a key component of ScrumOfOne, and it’s really been empowering me to find all this fun in the game of economics life.

Especially over Spanish lattes.