Use Your Potions and Scrolls


I find that when I play RPG games, I often hoard single-use items like potions and scrolls, saving them for some future critical moment. I finish games like Skyrim with a backpack full of unspent resources, reserved for a crisis that never actually arrives. What’s the point, then, of all these items?

Just like I save items in games, in real life I too am reluctant to ask for favors or promote my own projects. (Sometimes I even save all my favourite treats and I never eat the last one). I treated these social and professional resources as if they were single-use “magical items”, not to be wasted but reserved for some important-yet-undefined future magnum opus event.

Recently I played Baldur’s Gate 3 and I decided to try something new: I would actually gasp use my items as needed, as they were intended, without undue reservation. Not only was it actually fun to use my fireball scrolls and blow stuff up, but I also discovered new layers and hidden quests. For instance, using a ‘Speak with the Dead’ scroll on a certain suspicious corpse unveiled a questline I would have otherwise missed.

With the same mindset, I’ve been trying to adjust in my personal and professional life.

To my surprise, these actions didn’t exhaust my social or professional capital; instead, they allowed me to derive benefits and opened new avenues, much like in the game. A friend forwarded my resume within their network, and my posts connected me with others who shared my interests.

In fact, it’s far more important in life that you use the resources available to you, because you’re on a clock. You need to optimize for your gains wherever you can take them, before you or your resources expire.

And remember, people in your life actually want to help you. They also stand to benefit, and any sort of social capital isn’t necessarily “single-use”, more like “on a cooldown”, able to be requested again after a suitable delay or returning a favor.

Resources, whether in games or in life, are meant to be utilized. Hoarding them out of fear of depletion prevents us from discovering new opportunities and connections. That’s a scarcity mindset that we don’t need to employ. Life thrives not on conservation but on strategic and bold usage of what we do have.

We should not view our capabilities and opportunities as limited-use potions to be saved for the perfect moment. Instead, we should see them as tools (sometimes with a cooldown) and aptly use them to unblock ourselves and move ahead whenever possible, in the very short time that we have on Earth.

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