I have a problem. I spend a lot of time on projects, whether it’s house projects, electronics projects, hobbies, cooking, even in preparation for social events. I research the heck out of everything. And I do it because I’m taking care of the multiverse of future Bobs. It’s exhausting, and I need to stop and take care of present Bob more than all the future Bobs I’ll never be. Let me ‘splain.
We’re all familiar with the idea that any decision leads to a branch in the multiverse, where each choice is made in the different branches. Each branch is a different multiverse, and each one of them (hopefully) has a future Bob in it. Present Bob is the one who is making decisions that branch off. Past Bob is the only possible branch that could lead to Present Bob. Pretty simple, but here’s a diagram:
Now, here’s where the problem lies. Present Bob is working on a project, and is in the planning phase. Say he’s working on preparing for a solar panel installation on top of his house. There are a lot of decisions to make, such as how many panels, what kind, whether to do the work or hire a contractor. If he decides to do the work, that opens up lots of new decisions involved in the specifics of the installation, like which exact electrical components to purchase, how to acquire the tools, how to do the wiring, etc. That one decision was a huge branch that had lots of additional decisions to make. But Present Bob is also thinking about decisions he doesn’t have to make now, but may make in the future, such as additional solar power needs or getting an electric vehicle. Now, Present Bob would like to make sure that the Future Bob that decides to get an electric car will have the infrastructure in place to make that easy. After all, it would suck to install solar, only to have to make significant changes down the road to support that new decision. So Present Bob starts to research electric vehicle power consumption and charging and what’s needed, to satisfy the needs of a Future Bob that doesn’t exist yet.
But there are a lot of Future Bobs, so Present Bob is going down lots of rabbit holes thinking about future plans and making sure that decisions made in the present will be compatible with future decisions. Essentially, he’s future-proofing as much as he can. And this is a problem because it’s too much research. It’s too much planning. It takes away from Present Bob’s enjoyment of life. And it’s inefficient because there are decisions in the future that will have new information and new options that I can’t predict now. For example, what if solar cells get way more efficient and I can upgrade merely by replacing the panels to generate enough power for an electric vehicle? What if we never get an electric vehicle and never need to upgrade? It doesn’t make sense to try to consider and plan for every possible option.
My experience doesn’t agree with this assessment, though. Present Bob has thanked Past Bob countless times for considering something in advance and preparing for it. Past Bob has done a great job of taking care of Present Bob because Present Bob takes great care of all the Future Bobs. But the question is; is the amount of effort Present Bob puts into taking care of Future Bobs worth it? Present Bob doesn’t enjoy it very much, and he’s only ever going to be one of the Future Bobs.
The answer is to limit the amount of time Present Bob is willing to spend for Future Bobs, to make decisions based on information available at the time without thinking excessively about decisions Future Bob will have to make. I’m not sure how to do that yet, but I’m hoping to figure it out. I need to take care of Present Bob a lot more and worry about Future Bobs a lot less. If Present Bob is taken care of, he’ll become a Future Bob that’s taken care of.