I’ve been thinking a lot about diminishing marginal returns.
In a nutshell, diminishing marginal returns is the idea that we get less benefit the more we do something.
Imagine yourself at McDonald’s. That first Big Mac you’ve been craving is awesome. So is the second one, but less awesome than the first. The third is good but less good than the second one. And so on. By the time you get to the fifth, you feel sick. Each successive Big Mac had smaller benefits than the previous one. Diminishing marginal returns.
I had this thought on a recent Instagram uploading binge.
My Instagram is all about food and travel. I looked at other Instagrams I follow and they’re all about fitness or travel or food.
At what point are the returns on a passion or obsession diminished to pointlessness?
Is chasing the 55th photo of sea urchin really going to make your life better?
Or an example from my interests. Is going for fried chicken again for the umpteen time really going to improve my life?
Shouldn’t we use that time and money to do something that is going to move the needle? Something that gives us the return of that first Big Mac? That first cold beer? That first glug of decent wine?
What could you do today that would have the greatest impact on your happiness?
Would it be making more money?
Would it be making a nicer living space?
Would it be losing weight?
Would it be reading better and more?
Would it be improving the quality of your relationships?
Would it be creating art?
The common elements of the above for me are that they’re not always easy to achieve. Perhaps they require work that is uncomfortable. For example, earning more money means making yourself more valuable at work. It means an uncomfortable chat with your boss about a raise. It means looking at services you could offer as a freelancer. It means selling yourself and doing the work.
But this shouldn’t put you off. If making more money would have a significant impact on your happiness, then you should do it. (e.g. it makes you more secure, gives you greater confidence in your abilities and gives you freedom.)
What could you do today that would have the greatest impact on your happiness? Let me know in the comments below!