I met someone recently whose company I did enjoy, however not too far into our friendship we began to argue about things that seemed neither one of us would agree upon. I wanted her around and to get to know her better, but I didn’t enjoy her inability to look at things from my point of view. It made me ask myself, “Do I want to continue this relationship?” Also if I do or don’t, what is it’s worth to my life and my happiness. Then I found this NY Times article below:

In life, there are certain nonnegotiables we simply must have. Think food, water and shelter for starters. Nobody will ask, “Is it worth it to eat?” It’s just something you do to stay alive.

But deciding what to eat? That’s a different question.

Will I eat the bologna or prosciutto? Drink tap water or bottled? And anything discretionary — anything that has even the slightest element of choice in it — invariably deals with a question we find ourselves asking all the time.

“Is it worth it?”

That said, simply because no one can answer the question for you doesn’t mean that there are not clever ways to think about it. In particular, I’ve noticed three functional relationships that seem to help in identifying whether something is worth it or not: utility, enjoyment and cost.

Utility Last year, I wrote about a $5,000 road bike that I bought. The purchase seemed absolutely crazy at the time, but I did a little mental math and realized that if the bike lasted even twice as long as some comparable models, it would be worth buying. In fact, it has lasted far more than twice as long, and I’ve never looked back. So it was worth it because of how much use I got out of it.

Enjoyment If you do not enjoy something, it’s not going to be worth it. If the choice is between a cheap can of sardines or some wild-caught Alaskan salmon, regardless of the price, if you don’t eat it, neither one was worth it. If you happen to be partial to lox, you would most likely find the salmon to be completely worth it. The sardines, on the other hand, may find their way to the back of some cupboard and never be used. They may have been less expensive, but if you don’t enjoy them, they won’t be worth it.

Cost It’s not always the most expensive stuff that’s worth it (because of how, or how much, you use or enjoy it). It could just be the stuff that you have found incredibly valuable.

For example, I have this ice cream scooper that I absolutely love. It cost me under $10, I’ve had it for years, and every time I take it out I get this big smile on my face because it cost me so little. Sure, I enjoy it and use it, but what makes it memorable to me is that it feels like a steal.

Things like these are the secret little gems of the “worth it” world — the things that cost you almost nothing but give you a tremendous amount of utility, or enjoyment.

If you get a ton of use out of something, you enjoy it every time you use it and it costs a relatively small amount, it’s going to be “worth it.” That’s a no-brainer. That’s the ice cream scooper.

But many decisions are not so obvious, particularly those in which the cost is high. And that’s when these three functional relationships can help.

In the end, however, your answer is the only one that will count. And the next time you are about to ask someone else, “Is it worth it?” don’t.

Instead, ask yourself.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Close
Follow @bgardner