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Avoid Optimizing for the Wrong Outcome

In How To Spend Less Time in the Lunch Line, I told the story of how Jonathan and I each chose a different strategy for ordering food from the food trucks in Portland. I optimized for speed while Jonathan chose based on his mood. That was Saturday.

On Sunday, I wound up waiting over a half an hour to get my food. On purpose.

“Why?”, you might ask. The environment was the same. We still had only an hour for lunch and the food trucks were still packed.

But I was with a group of people having a deep discussion about decision-making, and a few people wanted to go to the Sheish Kabob food truck, no matter what the wait.

I had a choice. Optimize for speed and eat alone, or optimize for inspiring social interactions and wait to eat. I chose to wait.

Sometimes efficiency is not the right choice.

In my last article, I talked about the different between optimizing your decision and merely making a choice. But to optimize, you must choose what to optimize for.

Choose carefully.

Decide first whether to optimize for your choice, your experience or your outcome. Then ensure you pick the right measure to optimize for.

What do you optimize for when making your decisions?


  1. When making decisions I optimize for achieving the best outcome for others after my own best interests have been first considered and I’m sure that the decision is actually mine to make. Getting other people’s monkeys on your back by making their decisions for them or making a decision to do someone else’s thinking for them used to get me a lot of free jobs and no free time while everyone involved before I got in, went for a beer or a weekend at the beach or bar without the nice guy who’d give you the shirt off his back. That didn’t improve my family or financial life nor my social life, but others got to enjoy theirs at my expense.

    Now, I make decisions that impact my goals and take responsibility for my own health, wealth ad welfare ahead of those who don’t look after their own monkeys, after all, why shouldn’t they take responsibility for their own decisions and learn the same lessons in life, that there are givers and takers, but the givers can change and the takers will move on to another decision maker who can’t help but help another taker.

    Every decision you make should be simple and to the point… will this create a more positive environment in the area of interest in question, e.g. joyful-sad, friend-enemy, peace-war, comfort-discomfort, hate-love, lack-prosper, health-sickness and any other measurable quality of life of importance to your goals in life. Why be the star in someone else’s show when you can have the leading role in your own and allow each individual their own inalienable right to their own destiny according to their own decisions. If it’s good for all concerned… Just do it!

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