Have you heard the story of Tyler Cowen in an ice cream shop? It’s a very short one, and I love it.
Once at an ice cream shop, Tyler asked for the very smallest size of chocolate ice cream, but even the small one was too big. Then he asked for the sample size, had three bites, and got to the point of diminishing returns on his ice cream.
Most of the value of consumption is either memory or anticipation.
Simply by choosing sample size, you’d get both – anticipation of ice cream and memory of eating it – but no negative effects of eating too much.
In other words, you’d get the maximum value at the lowest possible price.
If you think about it, it works not only for consumption but also in many other areas of life.
You don’t need to push 400 pounds at the gym. After a certain point, adding more weight not only won’t increase the health benefits of exercising but will hurt your body.
You don’t need to make that extra billion dollars. (Unless you’re using it to send people to Mars, in which case, go right ahead). After a certain point, adding more work would only hut other areas of your life while decreasing the value of having more money.
Will visiting that 71st country on your list add any more value to your life? Probably not.
Before starting anything, find your point of diminishing returns and make a decision not to go over it. Get the maximum value at the lowest possible price.