Costing & Calibrating: Essential Skills for Embracing Your Possibilities


in Happiness,Personal Growth

When you step up to embrace your possibilities, life can get a little crazy.

Which is where mine is at right now. Crazy. But in a totally good way.

A little over a month ago now, I added another thing to my already full plate. It was an opportunity that I didn’t want to pass up since it gave me the chance to work with another president on some big things that I like – like planning for the future. When the offer arrived, I thought, “Yes, that sounds fun, I’ll do it.”

The euphoria of the moment and the interesting nature of the opportunity momentarily overshadowed any costs.

Because there are always costs associated with our choices. Things we give up or forgo – for now – in exchange for the current opportunity.

In my case, the costs include two or three days a week away from home. Long drives. A heavy use of my intuitive and creative reserves. Squeezing in the grocery shopping, getting the oil changed, painting my daughter’s fingernails, and organizing play-dates in between writing blog posts, working with clients, and nudging other projects forward.

On the flip side, every opportunity also brings benefits.

The benefits of my new opportunity include engaging with fabulous people around thorny and intriguing issues (which just delights me!) as well a significant chunk of cash and an education on a whole new set of issues.

So how did I know if this was a good opportunity for me from a cost-benefit perspective?

I don’t – yet.

Let me explain.

The cost-benefit analysis is something we engage in on a daily basis. We do it automatically and unconsciously with even the smallest of decisions.

Do you go to the store now or take a nap instead? Do you sell your house this spring or wait for the market to recover? Do you take the promotion or do you stay in the job that you like?

Weighing these types of questions, we make literal and figurative lists of the pros and cons. We try to figure out what the best answer might be.

But in reality, all we can do is make an educated guess based on where we are in our lives right now.

Do the costs and the benefits of the opportunity seem to make sense right now? Do we understand and agree that the impact on our time, relationships, finances, health, etc. will be worth embracing the opportunity?

If the answer is yes, then we are probably are good to move forward.

But that’s not the end of the story.

The real answer arrives when life recalibrates in response to the accepted opportunity.

Think of it this way. You are a mechanic. The new opportunity is your engine. It has just arrived in the shop and you aren’t familiar with it. You examine it. It looks gorgeous!! You listen to it run. It sounds a little rough. Perhaps it’s the different brand of oil? The new gas? You aren’t sure but you are going to play with it a bit. Try to make a few adjustments.

So you fine-tune that engine. You calibrate and recalibrate until it runs without a hitch … or until you discover that no amount of tinkering will save this baby and you have to throw it out for a new model.

And, guess what?? If you have to throw it out, that’s totally OK.

It is in the tinkering, or the calibrating and recalibrating, that the most important lessons arrive. The ones that inform our next steps. Our next selves.

When I became a realtor, I had no idea why I had chosen that particular occupation other than I liked real estate. All I knew is that it seemed like a good decision based on where I was at that point in my life.

As I moved into the profession and tinkered with my life in response to its demands, I discovered something really important about myself that I hadn’t really understood before – I liked to have my evenings to myself. This doesn’t sound like a huge discovery but it is. The ability to sell real estate usually requires that you show property in the evenings.


The good news is that I took that information with me to my next opportunity. And the next several after that.

I became an adept at costing and calibrating.

Costing and calibrating are essential skills for embracing your possibilities. Become an expert. The pay-off will be huge.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Ronna March 19, 2012 at

This IS the ongoing conversation, to be sure.

What are the costs? Where (and how) do I need to calibrate?

This IS life, it seems to me. And its lesson never ends, right? I’ve made previous decisions with costs unweighed – and the calibration after the fact was intense. I’ve made other decisions with costs weighed to the micro-level and still the calibration was intense. Calibration. Adjustment. Agility. Flexibility. Grace. Lessons (being) learned.

As always, good stuff, my friend. Thanks.
Ronna recently posted..There are prayers. And there are yours.


Andrea Olson March 20, 2012 at

Thanks, Ronna! I love that you used the words agility and flexibility … so, so necessary, not only in order to embrace our possibilities but also to experience them fully.


Lisa Wilder March 21, 2012 at

Love this, Andrea!

It’s so easy to get caught up in our heads with all the possibilities spinning in circles because it’s part of our human nature to want to determine, before we do something, whether or not it will be successful or will work well for us, but the reality is…the only way to really know that is to dive in.

And I love that you talk about the process of calibrating and re-calibrating, because it’s not as cut and dry as it works or it doesn’t work, is or isn’t successful…sometimes it’s simply that some aspect needs to be fine-tuned or tweaked so that it does work or is successful.

Carefully weighing the costs and benefits based on what you do know now can go a long way toward making the choice more clear and to reducing the need for really drastic re-calibration if you do choose to go for it.

The other thing I’ve found to be hugely helpful in deciding which opportunities to pursue and which to pass on is to take the time to get clear about the lifestyle you’re creating and the biz you’re building and to ask yourself…”Will this move me closer to my vision?”

Because even “great” opportunities (the ones that hold the potential for growth, fun, profit, etc.) can become distractions if they aren’t moving you closer to that vision for your life and biz.

Whatever this new opportunity is, Andrea, I hope it turns out to be a really amazing experience for you.
Lisa Wilder recently posted..The Question You Must Answer if You Want to Live a Happier Life


Andrea Olson March 21, 2012 at

I absolutely agree, Lisa. The opportunities should move you closer to your vision … which makes it all the more important to clearly define what your vision is and what your values are. It’s an important step but one we often overlook. Thanks so much for the great reminder!


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