How to Weight Second Order Effects?

I've been feeling confused about how to weigh second order effects. This essay is an attempt to tease out when it makes sense to over or underweigh them compared to first order effects. First order effects are the immediate consequences of the actions that you take. In contrast, second order effects refer to everything else that happens when you take an action. This is not an especially clean boundary, but here are some examples on this spectrum:

  • Going to the gym because getting fit is a first order effect.
  • Second order effects are the things that happen as a result of what you do, but aren't the thing you intend to happen directly

    • More like how the world reacts to what you do Obviously if you're biased towards one, it's to your advantage to bias the other way.
  • When to weigh it more:

    • If you need to care about becoming a certain type of person
    • If you care about compounding
  • When to weigh it less:

    • If you're feeling indecisive.
    • If you prioritize getting things done
    • Focus on the present
    • If need to precommit?

Last Updated: 2019-11-24 14:26
First Published: 2019-11-24 14:26