Managing uncertainty

I’ve been doing a lot more introspection lately. I think it’s a spill-over from stuffing Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality into my brain, and in the process, discovering LessWrong’s treasure trove of rationality materials. I’ve been slowing down to observe when I’m confused and then dissecting it, because I think it’s useful to be able to see and articulate what’s going on. (“Articulate” is an interesting word for this, actually; to express it, but also something about forming joints and rotating them…)

I am dealing with a lot more uncertainty than I’m used to. Which is good and proper and precisely on track, because one of the goals of this 5-year experiment is to get better at handling uncertainty. So I’m where I wanted to be last year: learning how to make decisions with less information, sketching out the probabilities and planning the scenarios. I used to get really stressed out by uncertainty and lack of control, and I’ve been getting a lot better at planning ahead and being nimble.

Things I am not certain about:

  • Timing: mitigated by conservative planning, creating plenty of buffer
  • Optimum actions: mitigated by focusing on satisficing instead of maximizing
  • Prices: mitigated by budgeting and price comparison
  • Side effects and their probabilities: mitigated by research and conservative planning
  • Not knowing: mitigated by research and analysis
  • How much I really want various things: mitigated by generally choosing among good options and by making forecasts/backcasts

What would being even better at dealing with uncertainty look like?

  • More spontaneity because I’d know that I can handle it, which means being able to jump on more opportunities
  • Better-documented decisions and decision criteria, so that open decisions don’t take up a lot of brainspace and I don’t forget important considerations
  • A better understanding of the decision space, mapping out the possibilities
  • Stronger foundations / safety-nets for the kinds of things I want to do