Be Careful What You Optimize For

As a society, we place a very high value on optimization.

Now that it’s so easy to track your nutrition, sleep, exercise, productivity, your stock gains or weather, you naturally want to optimize them. 

What we don’t always acknowledge is that optimizing for one thing is likely to cost you gains in at least one other domain. 

In this episode, we talk about why it’s so important to be clear on exactly what value you are optimizing for–-and what you are willing to sacrifice in order to do that.

It is a tricky balance to find but well worth the effort. 


The idea of optimization is alluring, especially when we are inundated with marketing that makes big, shiny promises. 

Optimization for one thing usually comes at the expense of another thing

The size or magnitude of the optimization often comes with a greater risk. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it, you just need to be aware (and be ready with a plan B).

Being clear on your greater goals and objectives can help you decide what’s worth optimizing — and what’s not.


Alchemy: The Dark Art and Curious Science of Creating Magic, by Rory Sutherland

Money Magic: An Economist’s Secrets to More Money, Less Risk, and a Better Life, by Lawrence Kotlikoff