Sunday, January 23, 2011

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

How Does One Make a Good Choice with Limited Information

I may have an opportunity for a job about an hour and a half from where I live now. It's a good job for me. It's secure, it involves litigation, and it's public service. I think I would really like this job. That's all well and good. But I don't KNOW that I'll like it. I can't know that. And unlike my present employment, it's a permanent gig. In a remote city. It's a serious commitment. What if I take it, hate it, and can't find anything else? What if I end up stuck in the middle of nowhere with no way out? This FEELS like the kind of place I could stay for the rest of my career. That's awesome in the fullest sense of the word -- as in it is amazing to behold and makes me cower.

It boils down to having to decide whether to take the job based on impressions from my interviews and online research. But I can't know the future or whether my wife will be able to find a job in a new city. I know I'm happy where we live now, but if I take this job, we will have to move sooner or later.

So, to the title of the post: decision-making with limited information. It's like buying a used car (something I may be doing very soon). You can check it out, you can drive it, you can have it inspected by a mechanic. But you can't know whether water damage is eating away at the electrics or the timing belt will snap next week. You can't know that your mechanic did a good inspection. You can't know that you won't wreck the car the day after you buy it. All you can do is put the hours into checking buyers' guides and finding a mechanic with a good reputation and a car and seller that "feel" right. And in the end, that's what makes or breaks it: the feel. Do I trust the guy? Does the car feel good to drive?

This seems unsatisfactory to me. I should come to grips with the uncertainty inherent in all decision-making. I should remember that, just as I make a choice to take a job, I can make a choice to leave a job.

I hemmed and hawed about this a couple years back and took the right job. Can I do it again? Should I just be grateful that I have a choice at all?