Arjun Badola

The urge to do more

For short summary: link

We have always heard that curiosity is a good thing to have, as it leads to deeper understanding and discoveries. But I believe it is also a necessary evil in one’s life when it extends to areas which can never be your focus field.

For example: Curiosity to learn how to code might sound good and could help someone in their life but to reach a level where you can start earning from that skill has very less probability.

One has to understand the concept of opportunity cost very carefully.

Time is a limited resource and there are only a certain number of hours you have in a day left with you to explore things deeply. At that moment you make a choice to whether you should dive further deep into your existing field or expand vertically.

The more time you spend on unrelated things the more you are taking away time from your specific field. Every day when you wake up you have 24 tokens and you have to decide in which box you want to put these tokens in. Once you use it, it cannot be retrieved.

Every decision comes with serendipity lost in another field.

Let’s take my example. I have mainly two fields in my life: Law and Investing.

box1

Now each time I take out a court case to read related to my subject in law I am letting go the opportunity to understand a new industry in the field of investing, and everytime I pick an annual report to read I forgo my opportunity to learn something in field of law.

But now if I add another box like coding I would be in a deep dilemma everyday.

box2

I have experienced this dilemma with running, bodybuilding, and coding. The last one being of very short duration as I realized quickly that it is not my cup of tea, or at least requires a lot of hours to acquire the skill which I was not willing to put in. About the initial two I have already written about them here where I mentioned that I got so much into it that I wanted to pursue it but that was just unreasonable.

But even those interests came with opportunity cost. I used to spend 2 hours in the gym, eating 12 egg whites per day to maintain my protein level, etc. but the mistake I did there was considering that it would take only 2hrs out of my 24hrs. Rather it takes away your whole day because after intense workout, like the one you would do if you want to participate in a bodybuilding competition, you would end up sleeping the whole day as your body wants to recover and sleep is the best way to do that. Therefore, the cost of my interest in bodybuilding was not those 2hrs of gym, rather the time spent preparing meals, sleeping to recover, watching content on different exercises, etc. all that combined was the opportunity cost which I had to pay.

Another urge which I have been getting is to try different blogging platforms. I have written about it earlier. It was getting very difficult for me to settle with one platform as I was getting very curious to try different ones. Of course, the problems I faced on each platform are different issues but deep down the primary reason to switch has always been the urge to do something. But the cost I paid here was my time which I wasted in shifting 40-50 articles, everytime I made a decision to switch.

Such urge is very common in the field of investing where boredom becomes your enemy. People get bored of the stock price not moving, then they start to rationalize why it’s not moving and to compensate for stock’s inactivity they sell it and buy the one which is moving but once they sell, the second one stops moving and the first one starts their journey of uptrend. One recent example of such an urge to join the hot moving stock is IRCTC.

irctc

If you were bored and wanted to join the momentum race and bought the stock in the month of October 2021 you would probably have had a lot of stress or spent your token in a box which is most likely not going to benefit you in the long run. The cost you might have paid is opportunity lost in your primary field plus permanent loss of capital.

The urge to do more is a double edged sword. If you kill the curiosity and don’t try out new things then you are letting go the possibility of serendipity because we don’t know what we don’t know and the dots could connect to some unrelated field and help you gain in your preferred field of interest. Like the famous example of Steve jobs taking calligraphy class in his college led to personal computers having wonderful typography today.

But it could also be true that the probability of such events happening is quite low and the more you let go the opportunity in the preferred field or required field (by required I mean a skill necessary to learn so that you can earn a living: A college degree) the chances of you getting better in that area keeping going down.

Inshort

One has to carefully select and spend time in what really interests them and pursue the free time in that area. The urge would come to explore different fields and one must not stop the urge to explore it but be alert to keep looking for signals which would tell you that its not your cup of tea.