Exercise 6 – The Cost/Benefit Analysis

This exercise is meant to help you understand your choices, thoughts, behaviours, and goals

The cost/benefit analysis is a common exercise in business decision making, and can also be applied to self-reflection

It involves creating a 2×2 table as below

Choice/thought/behaviour A
Choice/thought/behaviour B

To apply this table, we’ll think of the classic example of tobacco use. Someone filling this out might make a table that looks like this:

Costs Benefits
Continuing to use tobaccoFinancial Costs
Health Effects
Social exclusion/inconvenience in some scenarios
Feeling of relaxation
Social inclusion in some scenarios
QuittingLoss of immediate relief
Loss of social activity in some scenarios
Uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms
Save money
Improve health
Reduce inconvenience

In this example, there are significant costs to continuing to use tobacco, and significant benefits to quitting. However, there are costs to quitting, which might seem insurmountable at times, which can allow cravings to take over.

One thing to notice in this activity is that, most of the time, the benefits of continuing with the status quo are in the short term, and the benefits of change are significant in the long term. This is one of the things that makes change difficult for anyone (and, in the tobacco example, there are also significant physical and psychological symptoms of withdrawl).