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Home > Medical Services > Behavioral Services > Educational Resources > Always Check the Price Tag
Published on July 29, 2021
By Dr. Scott Eilers, PsyD, LP
Goals and dreams are wonderful things. They give us a spark that helps us wake in the morning. They offer a sense of direction and meaning, a clearly defined path forward in a life with nearly limitless options. They provide us with feelings of pride and accomplishment. Life without them can feel directionless, under-stimulating or maybe even a little empty.
However, every pursuit will eventually reach a point of diminishing returns. No matter what you achieve, there will always be a next level. You can always be faster, wiser or stronger. You can always make more money or lose more weight. There’s always another promotion you could achieve, another accolade that you could earn. In fact, the ladder of achievement doesn’t end; it stretches to infinity. You will never reach the top because there is no top. Tom Brady still wants more Super Bowl rings. Jeff Bezos still wants more money. For most of us, the idea that we’ll reach a point where we’re so satisfied with our accomplishment that we simply stop striving isn’t real. It’s against our nature.
So, at some point, you may find that the things you would have to sacrifice to continue to climb the ladder are more valuable to you than reaching that next rung is. But, recognizing when you’ve reached that point isn’t as obvious as it may seem. That’s because success and achievement can be addictive. Nothing in this life feels quite like obtaining something that once seemed impossibly out of reach. It’s also dangerous to get attached to something without checking the price tag. Wanting something without knowing what it costs can trap you – and not everything is worth the cost.
Notably, money isn’t the only price tag that can be attached to goals. Some goals come at the cost of time; some come at the cost of energy; some come at the cost of relationships; and some come at the cost of your health – physical or mental (or both). What’s more, some goals come at the cost of other goals, and some goals cost all of this and more. So, the question to ask yourself isn’t, “Do I want this?” Rather, it’s, “Do I want this more than what it costs?” Don’t let yourself get too attached to anything before you check the price tag.
For example, I had no idea what the value of a Lamborghini Countach was when I was a kid; I just knew that I wanted one. I fantasized about driving one and having one in my garage. I could probably find a way to afford one now. All I would have to do is ignore my family to work 100 hours a week; not go on any vacations for several years; move into the cheapest and smallest house I could find; stop contributing to my retirement account; stop going out to eat; and cancel Netflix and Amazon Prime. Then, after a few years of living this way, I could finally achieve my dream of owning a beautiful supercar. But, would that be worth it? For me, the answer is no. I’m not willing to pay the price of owning a Lamborghini Countach. I’ve let that dream go, and I’m at peace with that decision.
Earlier this week, Simone Biles checked the price tag of competing in the Olympics again and determined that it wasn’t worth what it would cost her. I don’t know her personally, so I can’t claim to know if that was the right decision or not, but I do know that looking at the price tag is something that most of us should probably do more often. It’s easy to put our blinders on and try to push forward at all costs, but it isn’t necessarily healthy or beneficial to do so. Not everything is worth the asking price – no matter how incredible it may be – and the only person qualified to assess the value of something in your own life is you.
Scott Eilers, PsyD, LP
Your goals and dreams are owed to no one except yourself. Your life belongs to you and your mind is yours to manage. You have the right to say, “This is no longer worth the cost,” to anything in your life. We all do. So, remember to check the price tags of your goals and dreams regularly, and empower yourself to decide what is and what isn’t worth the asking price.