what are you trying to optimize for?

People often ask me for advice, especially as they approach some sort of decision. They have a choice between X and Y, and they want to know which direction I think makes the most sense.

Obviously there are myriad factors that play into any decision, but before you can weigh those factors it’s important to set the right lens first.

The first question I ask is, “What are you trying to optimize for?”

If you’re looking at making a job change, you may factor in your commute, the wage, the type of work, the growth potential, etc. But if you don’t know what is most important to you, e.g. “I want a job that challenges me” vs. “I want a job that affords me lots of free time to work on my own projects,” it’s hard to answer that question.

If you have the opportunity to take a job that offers a higher wage, that may not matter if you’re optimizing for a flexible work schedule. Or if your dream is to start an agency, and you currently work for an agency.

Right now, I’m trying to optimize for location independence and control over my work. If I receive an opportunity to make a lot of money but requires I be in a certain city for an extended period of time, I’m probably going to pass that up because it goes against what I’m optimizing for.

For any decision, it’s important to understand what is truly important to you and weigh your options through that lens. Otherwise, you may accidentally sabotage yourself.


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