What are you trying to optimize in your life?

Aug 17, 2020
second-order thinking

But what is optimization?

op·ti·mi·za·tion is the action of making the best or most effective use of a situation or resource.
Almost 3 years ago I was talking with some acquaintances and they were complaining about their life. I notice that many of them were living their life on autopilot. They felt trapped. They didn't seem to have control of their lives and happiness.
Now it’s become very apparent to me how little time we spend thinking about what really matters. And by little time I mean zero time. Have you thought about what matters most to you? Who are you? Who do you want to become? What you want to accomplish, and why?
Many of us are in the pursuit to advance in our careers, achieve ambitious goals, or make more money, so that we can feel safe, successful and accomplished.
The problem with avoiding these questions is that we use dreams as a proxy for what we assume to be an accomplishment.

That's why we need to know what are we trying to optimize.

We know we have limited time, so have optimize for something. We need to choose wisely how we allocate these valuable resources in the most effective way.
Every time you make a choice, there is a trade-off to consider. We need to figure out, what is the opportunity cost.
Opportunity cost means that you cannot do everything, you can’t diffuse our energy or you’ll always be in conflict with yourself.
You have to think what you are gaining as well as what you may be giving up. For example:
  • Entrepreneurs wish more stability, employees want more freedom
  • When single we want a partner, when in a relationship we want to be single
  • A workaholic parent who is frustrated because his/her relationship with his/her children is getting worse
As Thomas Sowell said “There are no solutions, only tradeoffs
With each decision you are making a statement about you value the most.
Your decisions about allocating your time, energy, and focus ultimately shape your life’s strategy.
The allocation of your choices can make your life turn out to be very different from what you intended.

Optimizing for the wrong metric

All bad decisions and regretful choices in life arise from optimizing for the wrong metric.
Have you thought for a moment what success looks like,  how you are going to know you're successful?  It having a car, a big house or the number of likes on Instagram.
Unfulfillment arises from using metrics chosen by others as proxies for personal success. Social norms are powerful.
So you need to personally define your own metrics. Choosing the right metric is going to have a big impact on everything.
In your life, how are you going to measure your success?

Optimizing for immediate gratification

That the trap many people fall into is to allocate their time to whoever screams loudest, and their talent to whatever offers them the fastest reward.
In the book “How will you measure your life”, Clayton Christensen observed that many of his classmates, despite many accomplishments, were clearly unhappy with their lives.
I ask myself, why they are unhappy? what did they did wrong? They were just in the pursuit of their dreams and ambitions.
He professor discovered that the root causes of business disasters, over and over you’ll find this predisposition toward immediate gratification. If you look at personal lives through that lens, you’ll see the same pattern: people allocating fewer and fewer resources to the things they would have once said mattered most.
The professor discovered that “People who are driven to excel have this unconscious propensity to underinvest in their families and overinvest in their careers”
You neglect your relationships, and on a day-to-day basis, it doesn’t seem as if things are deteriorating but in the long-term can affect. If you misinvest your resources, the outcome can be bad.
In your life, are you optimizing for immediate gratification? Or Have you take in consideration the second order effect of your actions?

Related Posts