The Point Of Diminishing Return

It’s difficult to know when to quit. Whether you’re dealing with money, pussy, or travel, there comes a point where you pass the point of diminishing return. When the correct move is to enjoy and reflect on our gains before moving on to something else, why do we keep doing the same thing? Why do we forego new opportunities for an old habit that doesn’t give us as much pleasure as it used to?

Poker and blackjack players know how hard it is to end a session. It doesn’t matter if you’re up or down—there is a psychological pull that keeps you seated until the typical result of losing all your money, no matter how well you may have been doing. In poker you go on “tilt” where your emotions override your logic and you lose everything while complaining about how some sucker called the pot when he “should’ve” folded. Those who do well at gambling not only have to be skilled at the game but also strong enough to get up from the table when there is little advantage in staying.

It’s the same feeling when having a goal to save money. You tell yourself when you have X amount of cash you will feel comfortable in life. Then you get there and realize that you could use a bit more. You get to your second goal but decide to keep going. I have saved much more than my initial goal I set over five years ago but now I feel it’s not enough and decided on a goal that is ten times more than the original. I know that if I get there it still won’t be enough. You can give me one million dollars right now and I’ll still feel insecure after a month or two, thinking of ways to increase it further.

The problem with humans is that the program in our DNA tells us that it’s never enough. We simply can’t stay satisfied with what we have. Another example is notches. I can’t seem to stop chasing them, even though I get less pleasure from the pursuit than in my twenties. The only difference between chasing money and chasing notches is that the former is sanctioned by society while the other is not, but in the end they’re not all that different.

When is it time to say enough and ease out of chasing something that used to give you so much happiness? Why does it seem impossible for me to quit a game that has defined me for so long? Many men stay hooked long after they should’ve quit, hanging on to a pursuit that no longer makes sense, all while neglecting the present. You face the risk of forgoing new pleasures that may take you way above what used to give you everything, but no longer does. The hardest thing in life is knowing when to get up from the table.

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