Optimizing for the Maximum

As my wife and I ate our dinner tonight on one of those rare Date Nights you receive when you have two young children we talked a little about what a person might optimize their life for.

Well, that wasn’t exactly what the discussion was about at first. First, we were talking about the size of our house and the size of the house a friend of ours is thinking of purchasing. It was a discussion we had undertaken when we were contemplating purchasing our first (and current) house, and it comes up every now and then when we think of the future of our family.

What do you optimize your life for?

What should you optimize your life for?

I have no clue about the latter question for a single person needs to think through that one on their own and make a decision based on too many factors for me to even begin to contemplate.

It does seem that as a society we’ve decided to optimize for the maximum. Parking lots are built with the idea of what the maximum occupancy might be for a store. Houses are purchased with the thought of when a person might have the most amount of company over. Vehicles are acquired with the thought of what the maximum possible load might be that you would maybe need to carry.

Taking the example of purchasing a home and then looking at it from our own perspective a little, we came up with the number of maybe having people staying with us a total of 10 nights (maybe a few more or a few less). 10 nights out of a possible 364 or 365 nights of a year.

Or to put it differently, less than 3% of a given year you are at maximum.

I’m not going to pass judgement on anyone because, obviously, I don’t have all of the answers or even know all of the questions to ask. However, looking at that, is optimizing for the 3% the best use of resources? What if we instead tried to optimize for the 97% portion of our lives, what would that look like? What compromises would maybe be made if we would choose other benchmarks to judge a purchase or choice by than the maximum?

Like I said, I don’t know, but I like to think.

6 thoughts on “Optimizing for the Maximum”

  1. Wise thoughts. We’ve had that discussion in our house a few times as well. It often ends with us deciding we like where we’re at, we can afford it, and we’re happy. And in the end, happiness counts for a lot.

  2. Agreed. There are hidden costs with going bigger … like hidden maintenance costs, property taxes, more time to clean, etc. that many times isn’t considered right away in the goal of “upgrading”.

    Sometimes it is better to be content with what we have or content with what we NEED instead of lusting after more. There will always be more.

  3. We are continually happy that we did NOT spend the extra $70k the bank wanted us to when we purchased our house. Would be in way over our heads now, and I bet we would have defaulted.

  4. Sometimes taking a step or two backwards can be a good thing. It is amazing how little space a person actually needs to be happy with their surroundings. Having “more than enough” room isn’t exactly the best situation to be in … all of the time.

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