If you want to eat healthy, you need to have a balance between eating too much and too little. Plain and simple. If you want to be responsible with money, you need to balance between saving enough to enjoy your future and spending enough to meet your needs today. Not too much, not too little. If you want to want to learn a new skill you need to find a technique that works you just enough to feel accomplishment, but something that’s not so challenging that you give it up all together.
So what are we after here?
Well…. kind of…. imagine slipping on everything you walked on? I’d be butt hurt pretty much just about everything.
Let’s get serious for a moment. Most problems in life come down to extremes like these. Slipping or Zero movement. Calibration has two challenges. First you need to figure out in which direction you’re unbalanced—are you spending too much or too little? Too aggressive or too passive? Overdoing it or underdoing it? Second, you need to figure out how to rebalance yourself.
Calibration is harder than maximizing. Intensity and balls to the wall is sometimes easier. If you don’t need to balance, and moving in one direction is always better, then you can increase all your efforts into solving the second challenge. When a problem involves calibration, however, you always need to keep an eye on whether you’ve slipped too far to the other side.
So the problem with advice is that most of the time it can only point in one direction. I can recommend you to spend more and enjoy life a bit more or save it for a rainy day. But it’s hard for me to prescribe both and still be practical.
If the intended patron for advice is obviously misguided in one direction, this may not be a problem. It’s probably safe to say someone with habits of high consumer debt- to spend less and save more, right? Or someone who is obese to eat less. Simple enough. At LTN we love simple.
However, what if there’s more than one patron? If I write a post, it will get read by millions of people. Maybe or maybe not?For any conceivable topic, that means my advice will be bad for some people, even if it’s still useful on average.
What if you don’t know the patron very well? In that case, you may assume they’re a misfit in one area, but the opposite could be true. Sound advice crucially depends on what the advice giver believes to be the Optimal in the given area, time and circumstances.
And not specific…..
First, generalizing over the people around you doesn’t necessarily give you the ideal position. If we did this with weight gain or savings rate in North America right now, it might be far from what most reasonable people would consider ideal. This creates a bias to think you’re better calibrated than you actually are if you’re close to the average.
Sometimes we’re able to recognize a imbalance between the average and the ideal. But this can also create other problems if you’re aimed in the opposite direction of the people around you. This may push you to an opposite, unhealthy extreme. If you’re told people of your group are normally too passive, you may push yourself to becoming overly intense. If you’re told people in your group are too heavy, you may push yourself to undereating.
Sometimes the calibration issue has to deal with the fact that it’s not clear where the ideal sits between two extremes. With weight and savings, there’s a minor risk of distortion, but consider philosophical issues like:
* How much should you set goals versus live in the moment?
* How much should you live according to strict rules versus not hold yourself too tightly?
* How much should you have faith in things or doubt them?
* How often should you change your mind, or maintain your convictions?
* How much control should you try to exert control over things versus accepting them the way they are?
If there is an ideal balance between these contradictory notions, it has been suggested to lie at very different points (sometimes at extremes) in between those pairs of ideas.
Let’s talk: Recalibrating
One solution to the calibration problem is to be more open to trying different points on the curve. So basically don’t be a panzy and don’t be too uptight either. If you can push yourself to try spending time at one point versus another, and seeing what results they create in your life, you can get a better idea as to which direction you need to push towards to live better.
So if a very goal-oriented person, this could mean trying to live more spontaneously for a period of time and seeing whether that pushes you closer to progress and harmony. If you’re a very rational person, this could mean trying to make decisions more intuitively and seeing whether they turn out better or worse.
Too same up the shit out of this
Advice is hard to give and receive. Honestly. This is because most problems are ones of calibration and not of maximizing. When you hear advice, always leave open the possibility that you’re not the intended recipient, and in fact you’re calibrated in the opposite direction. In fact, most good advice can also be argued convincingly in the other direction and still be true for some people.
This is one of my brain squeezing articles.
No definite answers, but that’s okay dudes and dudettes. Mr Google didn’t always exist and let’s be real, If information and “having the RIGHT answers in our tool box was the KEY to success,” then we’d all be billionaires with Mercedes and six packs.
Final word. Life is like a circle. Sometimes there’s just no point to it. But waking up, working, and going back to sleep only to do it all over again.