On Trade Off

Simply put, “Trade Off” means “to exchange something for or with another”. The concept of trade off is a basic one and is one of the founding pillars in economics. You have to give something to get something, and I am writing this article from a similar point of view. This came to my mind when I was reading a novel, where the central character wanted multiple things, and though the story gave importance to individualism and feminism, it didn’t completely show her sacrifices and her shortcomings. (And yes, I’d like to talk to the author about this.)

It signifies that you have to give up something to accomplish something. But the results of the trade off will differ based on other variables at play. An example that comes to mind at this point is, if one person chooses Barley over Wheat, his output of Barley will be different from that of another person doing the same (most likely).

This may seem like common sense to some people, but we also witness instances of people wanting it all, more often than not, I think. It may be natural, but we also have to accept the results, then. You cannot spend 14 hours partying and hangover, let’s say, and have time to complete an assignment at the last moment or to perform well in a test or build a financial model or to complete any task at the last moment. You won’t sleep? Aren’t you giving up proper rest (trade off)? And sleep is important for good health, mental and physical.

Someone spends years on the craft of sketching and painting, and we are astonished when that person sketches a beautiful portrait in 30 seconds. Or when someone solves a simple arithmetic problem in 20 seconds and we only see that as an unfair “gift” without realising that that person might have spent years practicing or that that person may be socially “awkward”, so to say (or both?), or maybe they are trading off something else. Yes, the world is not “perfect” and that person may as well be “gifted”, but we may never know. Then again, this may have to do with genealogy and mutation. Let’s leave that for another discussion.

Another thing that I’d like to leave for another discussion is the need to be opinionated. How can one person have an opinion about everything? Anyway…

One last example. When we’re buying something, the more we search, the more options we find. That’s where the optimisation problem comes in. No wonder businesses spend time and money on optimisation. But in day-to-day life? We can select one from the options available in front of us; we can choose to work hard and party hard (not party harder, you see); etc. I think it comes down to a proper approach to investment, investment of energy, time, money and other resources, to accomplish a balanced return of material gain and a life well lived. The definitions of each may vary for each, though.

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