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Optionality by Richard Meadows

Posted: Fri May 28, 2021 3:21 pm
by oldbeyond
I just finished reading this, written by personal finance journalist/digital nomad/angel investor/pizza freak Richard of

The title has it - it’s a book exploring optionality from various angles relating to lifestyle design in a broad sense. In short, cultivating high quality options and avoiding getting stuck in various traps like debt, addictions or cults, but in the end making some sacrifice of the optionality you’ve gained to pursue something greater than yourself of your own choosing (starting a family, philanthropy, entrepreneurship etc). I expected money questions to dominate the book, but was pleasantly surprised to find health, skills and relationships being discussed at length as part of a larger whole, with no part really dominating the others.

In that sense the book is reminiscent of ERE, as it broadens the gaze to living well more generally. Stylistically and temperamentally the two books could not be more dissimilar. Optionality reads like a MMM post with a bit more self-deprecating jokes and a lot more depth, and I think the author is more trying to create a loose framework to hang various valuable heuristics from than trying to create a Great System. I found the book intellectually honest, exploring ideas but not being shy about offering caveats or touching on the limits of their applicability.

In practice there is a lot of overlap between the two approaches, and a lot of concepts will be familiar to people here. I think it offers a lot in being so different in style, and in discussing the pitfalls of being to focused on removing negatives, something I’ve grappled with myself. It doesn’t really have the ecological dimension that jacob’s work has, but the strategies presented and the authors personal lifetyle seems in line with the median on this forum, if not perhaps reaching the heights of DLJ.

Speaking of levels, I think this could be a good intermediary step between MMM and ERE.

Re: Optionality by Richard Meadows

Posted: Sat May 29, 2021 8:24 am
by Qazwer
Flipped through some of his blog
The above article seems to give a feel for his optionality argument. Options are great. They allow positive actions and protections especially in a changing world. But developing options takes time and money. There are a fixed number of hours in a day and years in a life. To me, it is a balance of optionality and its cost.

‘Optionality = the right, but not the obligation, to take action’

I really like his analysis of freedom and employment - thank you for the introduction to his blog ... in-heaven/

‘ The single most powerful way to open up your options is to a) have more money, or b) require less of it in the first place.’
He explains these trade offs and synthesis well.

‘Consumer capitalism is designed to give the illusion of great choice, even while it leads us deeper into the labyrinth—wasting our precious time and attention, and distracting us from making the decisions that really matter.’
The more I read of his blog the more it helps me think through the trade offs of freedom and meaning that are so prevelant in this forum.

Re: Optionality by Richard Meadows

Posted: Sat May 29, 2021 4:11 pm
by oldbeyond
Yes, there is a trade off between exploring new options and exploiting the ones you already have which he discusses in the book. Also, ultimately deliberately sacrificing options to gain meaning or community might be the right use for your stash.

Here’s a more thorough review (from another blog I recommend with some overlap with Meadow’s thinking):

Re: Optionality by Richard Meadows

Posted: Sat May 29, 2021 5:15 pm
by ertyu
I would argue that when one gains meaning and community one isn't sacrificing options, one is diversifying one's options: exchanging one "class" of options for another - maybe the option of having a clear idea of what you want to work towards and being in a better state of health and mood at that one juncture when a serendipity knocks.

Re: Optionality by Richard Meadows

Posted: Mon May 31, 2021 1:14 pm
by oldbeyond
Yes. I’ve been very good at avoiding negatives (debt, junk food, video games) but not as aggressive in pursuing the opportunity for powerfully positive outcomes. A lot of writing selling the latter is scammy and/or not replicable, but there is not like all action is pointless. It is more a case of positioning for serendipity and increasing your odds, but not relying on a runaway success with no safety net.