Tags: decision

RSS - Atom - Subscribe via email

Reflecting on risk aversion

Posted: - Modified: | experiment

I’m more careful about risks than I was at the beginning of this experiment. I see more negative consequences when projecting the results of decisions, and I perceive more volatility. I tend to overestimate the probability and impact of negative possibilities, and I’m conservative about taking advantage of opportunities.

This is interesting to me because I expected the opposite result when I started this experiment. A safety net should enable me to feel comfortable with taking more risks. In particular, I would probably have expected to take more risks in terms of:

  • Tools: get better at seeing the possible improvements or new capabilities opened up by tools
  • Education: learn faster with other people’s help
  • Networking: connect with and help more people
  • Creation: make and ship more things
  • Delegation: working with other people to get even more done
  • Commitment, schedule: plan for larger things, and hustle in order to get more things done

Hmm. Come to think of it, even my perception about increased risk aversion is perhaps inaccurate. Over the past two years, I’ve learned a lot from taking risks in terms of business models, sales, delegation, and so on. Let me take a closer look at the categories I mentioned to see if I can come up with counterpoints:

  • Tools: Small hardware, software, and network upgrades have worked out well.
  • Education: I’ve learned that I can learn a lot from books, experimentation, and connecting online, which is why paid courses and conferences haven’t really been on my radar.
  • Networking: The Emacs Chat podcast is a new thing for me, and I’m slowly getting the hang of it. I’ve been moving to getting to know people online instead of focusing on in-person connecting, and I like connecting with peers or people I can help rather than trying to connect with high-flying celebrities. I think I like the direction I’m going, actually.
  • Creation: PDFs, guides, and e-mail courses are new for me. That’s working well. Free/PWYW helps me reduce risk and avoid being anxious about satisfaction.
  • Delegation: Not as good as I could be when it comes to assigning tasks, but still better than nothing.
  • Commitment, schedule: This is probably where the biggest difference is. I’m less inclined to schedule things, and I try to minimize my commitments in terms of time and energy. Every so often, I think about whether I should be hustling more, but I like my current pace.

Oh, that’s interesting. I think I’m surprised by the way I’m getting better at saying no, which is apparently a very useful skill. I’m getting better at not feeling guilty about it, too. I want to make sure I’m saying yes to some things, what I’m saying yes to is worth it for me, and that I’m not prematurely closing off things that do want.

How do I want to tweak this? I’d still probably minimize the number of commitments. I might take more notes on decisions. That would give me a better handle on risks that worked out well and risks that didn’t, because what I recall is biased by my mood. What I take notes on is biased by mood as well, but it’ll be easier to find contrary examples.

Also, when I find myself possibly overestimating the likelihood or impact of negative possibilities, I can sanity-check my perceptions with research and with other people. Hmm…

It’s kinda fun noticing when your brain is acting a little weird. =) We’ll see how I can work around things!

View or add comments

Packing review: Things I used and didn’t use on my trip

| life

I was in California for two weeks: three days at a conference, a 5-day impromptu road trip to Disneyland in Anaheim, and a few days of hanging out at my sister’s or in San Francisco.

What worked well

Typing lots of notes from the organizers’ session: I used Google Docs to quickly type in and share my notes from the Quantified Self 2012 organizers’ meeting. Quite a few people came up to me and thanked me for the notes, including people who came in late. We didn’t have a projector, so I put the URL by the nametags instead.

Sketchnoting the plenary sessions on Autodesk Sketchbook Pro on my tablet PC: I took practically all of my sketchnotes on my Lenovo X220 Tablet PC. The extended battery meant that I never had to worry about finding a power outlet, which was great because I liked sitting in the front row. (You meet lots of interesting people there!)

The plenary sessions were fun to sketchnote, and it was great to be able to publish them straight to the conference blog (opening day 1, opening day 2, Ignite talks, closing) using my laptop. For the most part, the hour-long talks fit neatly on a single page. Awesome!

Vibram Five-finger toe shoes: Excellent for lots of walking during the conference and in Disneyland. No blisters or sore feet, and I didn’t have to wait for socks to dry.

Columbia zip-off pants: I turned these into shorts for Disneyland, which was great because there was a ton of running around in hot weather.

Anker external battery: Great for extending my phone’s battery life. I didn’t run out of juice during the trip.

A whiteboard marker: The breakout sessions were in rooms with wall-size whiteboards, but one of the rooms I was in didn’t have a whiteboard marker. Fortunately, I’d bought one for my kit. =)

What could be better

Taking text notes at the breakout: The conversation was going much too quickly to sketchnote. I could’ve followed Mark Carranza’s lead and taken text notes instead, which would have let me capture more organized information. (That Zoom recorder he uses might be interesting to try, too!)

Travel socks instead of cotton socks: Cotton socks take a long time to dry and are stiff after being hand-washed. I should have brought my Tilley travel socks to pair with my sneakers instead, as those dry overnight.

Didn’t use my tablet at the conference, but I brought it on the road trip: I bought the TF700 thinking I’d use it at conferences thanks to its longer battery life, but the Lenovo X220T lasted as long as I needed it to and I prefer drawing on the X220T’s screen. I like using the tablet at meetups around town, though, because that way I don’t have to bring my laptop. Sketchnotes on my X220T feel more polished because I have better drawing tools, but if I get used to using the tablet (maybe sketchnoting webinars?) or tweak my tablet style, then I might use it more often.

The tablet came in handy on the road trip, though. My sister gave me a small bag to pack things in, and the slim tablet fit with my clothes much better than the laptop would have.

Didn’t use the tablet dock at all: I thought I’d use this to give myself more battery life during the conference, but I ended up just using my tablet PC instead.

Didn’t meet up with many people: It was difficult to coordinate small get-togethers. I made it out to see a small bunch of Emacs people (who are awesome!), but that was about it. Part of this was because plans were up in the air. Maybe next trip, I’ll pick one or two days and focus on meeting people then.

Good trip!

View or add comments