Making Wrong Decisions

One of my friends has been unhappy at his job for a while and is contemplating a switch, but he’s worried that he’s making the wrong decision. “What if it’s worse than my current job? What if the hours turn out to be bad?”

The issues with overthinking and obsessing over making the “right” decision include:

  1. The world is noisy. It’s often impossible to know if you’re really making the “right decision”. A better approach is to focus on whether your decision-making framework, or policy, is correct, rather than the specific choice you made (which could be correct in one randomly seeded version of the world, and wrong in another).
  2. Making right decisions doesn’t necessarily forge strong convictions

Strong internal convictions are born out of real-world experiences, and the strongest internal convictions often come from mistakes or mis-steps.

“A win doesn’t feel as good as a loss feels bad, and the good feeling doesn’t last as long as the bad. Not even close.” – Andre Agassi

As much as we can try to internalize learnings without undergoing failure ourselves (like reading about others’ mistakes), first-hand experiences are fundamental to our growth and learning.

There are times when you’re more free to make mis-steps, like when:

  1. The cost of attempting again or switching paths is low.
  2. The difference in outcomes between the right and wrong decision is minor.

My friend is already discontent with his current job so it’s unlikely a new one would be much worse. He has backup job options if things don’t work out. If things don’t work out, he’ll at least develop a better sense of self.