For the last few years, I’ve been optimising for convenience. This leads me to do things that seem odd to a lot of people – like wearing the same outfit every day, and renting an expensive flat in London even though I might not be there for half of the year. But these choices are the right ones for me, because I’ve identified that (for the time being, at least) convenience matters to me more than anything else.

There are lots of things you might choose to optimise for:

You can optimise for earning. Move to the city with the highest wages. Put in long hours. Take the job an extra hour’s commute away in exchange for a 20% pay increase.

You can optimise for saving. Live in the smallest, cheapest house you can. Eat in. Cut all non-essential spending.

You can optimise for fun. Say “yes” to every invitation. Go on more holidays. Take up new hobbies.

You can optimise for appearance. Be seen wearing the latest trends. Be seen in all the right places. Be seen owning all the right status markers. In general…be seen.

You can optimise for personal growth. Spend your evenings learning something new. Sign up for an ultramarathon. Start playing chess.

And plenty more.

But by definition, you can only optimise for one thing at a time: you can’t optimise for both appearance (buying an expensive car) and saving (riding a bike instead of driving). Although, of course, what you’re optimising for can – and should – change over time.

Life is much simpler once you’ve consciously decided what you want to optimise for. You just have to make a single decision: what’s most important to me right now? Once you’ve got that clear in your mind, many of your future decisions will make themselves.

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4 thoughts on “What are you optimising for?

  1. I think convenience kills in the long run. Choose fastfood for home cooked food, you will suffer from dangerous diseases in later life. Use plastic use and through bags instead of cotton ones (that needs cleaning for reuse) and the planet suffers. The ancient (vedic) way of life has already shown what to prioritise for. The inner good and living close to nature for the ultimate happiness. There are always convenient swaps (do yoga rather going to gym) that can save money, planet and YOU in the long run. Sorry this is my personal experience. And thank you, Rob for being a vegetarian to save the planet and YOUR HEALTH! 🙂

  2. Found this to be a very timely read, so thank you. It’s an important point and great reminder for me at the moment. A similar point was actually made (although not nearly as sharply) in the book, ‘Essentialism’. The author suggested that by its definition, you can only have one priority. A list of priorities, is therefore a fool’s errand. I think you’ve perhaps made the point a bit clearer — certainly a bit more practical.

    1. Thanks for the comment! One of my favourite books, “The One Thing” by Gary Keller, hits a similar point from a different angle. Makes total sense, but of course far harder in practice to maintain focus and not get distracted.

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