Theory - diminishing marginal utility

Follow up to the 'Life is Paradise' post, my theory of why old timers tend to say money, prestige and work is ultimately meaningless and fulfilling, and why it's the opposite for young uns.

Diminishing marginal utility - when old timers have done more work (in IB/ HF whatever), the marginal utility cranks down like mad. Many folks may even have negative marginal utility of work already. 

On the other hand, prospects and interns have never worked in finance (or their other dream fields) so their marginal utility of working in these fields are at their lifetime highest.

So when old timers tell prospects that work is not meaningful and exciting, it's possible that they say that because of their low af marginal utility. However, they neglect the fact that working and achieving their career goals have already accumulated them a fuck ton of total utility over their careers. 

It's like eating 1 burger and enjoying it immensely, but then eating 10 burgers and feel disgusted and nauseated. But then you tell others (who haven't yet had their burgers) that 'Burgers are disgusting food'. That's wrong. That's only considering your marginal utility of burgers, but you forget that those burgers stacked up a lot of total utility for you. That indicates a lack of self awareness.

Similarly, prospects have a warped perception of their interests in certain careers, because their marginal utility is at a lifetime high. They mistake that for true passion.

 
Most Helpful

Which old timers are you hanging out with that say money, prestige, and work is meaningless/unfulfilling? I feel like that sentiment is prevalent among the younger generations, especially Gen Z, and that Boomers and older Gen X are the ones that constantly want to crank and squeeze every last drop of productivity out of me. Note that I understand there are exceptions to this rule and I'm not one of those "anti-work" people, but on average, it's not been my experience that old-timers say this relative to young people. Anecdotally, I've seen a lot of recent college grads we've hired that I manage "burn out" much more quickly than me or my peers did when we first started out.

 

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