The opportunity cost trap is what happens when you really would like to do something, but have to give up too much to get it. For example, becoming an artist after earning a lot of money and going back to school. The trap is that you are kept doing what you like less just because you gain more, yet you don't feel any happier having more, because you aren't doing what you want anyway!
I've been thinking about this a lot recently (my example below) and haven't made any progress - I'd love to get feedback on people's opinions on this trap... is it a trap? Is it reasonable? How do you deal with it? Can you let it go of what you'd like now because you'd have to give up too much?
I know a lot of people don't change because they can't afford it, due to family, etc. By opportunity cost, you can afford it, but you are giving up more than you value it... The trap is when you can't give it up, knowing this, so you are caught between still wanting to change and not being able to justify it.
This is my story with what I'm struggling with...
I've been in the same job for 6 years are so. The problem is, it's a good job. It pays well (literally targetting the top 25% of positions), excellent benefits, lots of vacation and so forth - hell they are paying for my education right now. There is nothing bad with the job either - I work with incredible people, have great support and so forth.
The problem is that I would like to go back to school - engineering - and this is not a part time option. Even though I don't feel high satisfaction with what I am doing now, I can't justify giving it up. I keep working out the opportunity cost, and the cost is staggering.
Engineering school isn't too expensive - say, 25,000 or so. But I'd have to give up my job, which means it costs me hundreds of thousands in lost wages, benefits and so forth. More than that, after the 4 years (which would cost me hundreds of thousands), I get to 'apprentice' for 5 years or so to become a p.eng, which would cost me another hundred thousand or so.
All told, I estimate the cost, now, to be in excess of $400,000 for a $25,000 degree. And not surprisingly, I'm finding more costs all the time. Hell, I'm not even including the likely promotions and education values if I didn't leave. The real cost is likely nearly double, or triple if the current work-path continues, when I consider a 20 year time horizon.
I always try to follow a rational approach because I fear concepts like "grass is greener". I mean, I want to build things... but not at that cost. I could buy my own workshop, and I probably wouldn't even do that.
The obvious rational solution is simply to direct what money I am comfortable with to my own projects... Yet, I can't give up thinking about it...
Time marches on, too. I'm turning 30 this year - it's only going to get harder and harder.