Prioritizing

How does one even begin to prioritize and choose between longer-term undertakings spanning several months or more? Based on the limited experience of my own life, I find it difficult to place much confidence in my careful rationalizations when evaluating several options, particularly when each contributes to distinct buckets or “burners”1 in one’s life. Not only must I contend with the uncertainty of each option’s outcome, but also the expected ancillaries of each as well as their opportunity costs given present alternatives.

Could I at least expect to exceed the utility of a random choice? This isn’t obvious to me, but I welcome any feedback to this end. If not, why ever embark on this quixotic quest that too often serves to uncover and underscore the shortcomings of each option?

I suspect that in some cases, omitting rationalizations and relying more faithfully on intuition yields a more satisfying answer. It may not optimize for defined criteria, but with no guarantee of the accuracy of my systematic evaluations, I might be compelled to dismiss my approximations by the same token. The intuitive option, moreover, can elicit a more forgiving retroactive justification if things go awry. Accepting that instinct failed to yield the optimal result seems less systematically disparaging than being forced to concede that a careful and correspondingly systematic evaluation of the available options failed to do so. However, I would readily accept that this reckoning may act as a positive force to improve future rationalizations, which leaves us with another indeterminate choice (of how to choose, that is).


  1. Four burners theory ↩︎