MORE IDEAS FROM THE ARTICLE
Preserving optionality means avoiding limiting choices or dependencies. It means staying open to opportunities and always having a backup plan.
The more options we have, the better suited we are to deal with unpredictability and uncertainty.
We are faced with options all the time, but life-altering ones often come up during times of great change. These options are the ones we have the hardest time capitalizing on.
If we’ve specialized too much, change is a threat, not an opportunity. Thus, if we aren’t certain where the opportunities are going to be (and we never are), then we need to make choices to keep our options open.
When times are hard is when many investors make their fortunes and when entrepreneurs innovate. They have to see the opportunity in chaos.
This is also known as the coach’s dilemma.
Over-specializing in one area is highly limiting, especially if it requires extensive upkeep. Like a football player, we can retain optionality by avoiding overtly damaging risks and ensuring we stay in the game for as long as possible—whatever that game is. That might mean lifting less metaphorical weight at any one time, while also working to keep ourselves flexible.
It happens when we make small, rational decisions that end up removing options over time.
Small decisions can lead to bad outcomes. At some point, alternatives disappear, thus we lose our optionality.
Optionality can be a matter of perspective.
Preserving optionality means changing our attitudes as our circumstances, but also learning to spot opportunities (and to make them).
Some aspects of cognitive aging can be slowed down with training.