March 18, 2009

Moving average

The standard freelance work is famine or feast, and while it'd be nice to have things smoother that'd also take away the random and non 9-to-5 nature of the work, and it's in the peaks and troughs that you get the rushes of doing the right thing with regard to getting lots of work / $ and then having enough loose time to bicycle around town at odd hours and do other things.

Below is one way to smooth things out.

Freelancing income, arbitrary units, June 2008 to February 2009

I plotted my freelancing income for the last nine months as regular numbers and as a cumulative average. What's unsurprising is that wild fluctuations are far more likely to come at the start of the process, and the line gets progressively smoother, with even large changes having little effect.

Now halfway through March, which so far has been less busier than February, although I'm due 200 or so pages of a philosophy thesis [book?] from the UK this Friday, which is supposed to be finished by Monday. No doubt it'll be on Derrida and make no sense, whether well written or not. Accepting jobs like this makes me wish I hadn't eaten all my modafinil long ago, but I charge by the hour and it'll take up the slack of the last few days of doing nothing paid.

Still, halfway through March and the income is not where I'd like it to be, and because I'm relatively new to this game and waiting on general economic collapse there are small episodes of panic...but then plotting it out as a moving average makes it that much easier to relax. [That and the ton of work that came in today after this was written, not posted]

Looking at the figure and thinking back to the stoicism of the last post and whether this can be applied more widely. Wild fluctuations of feeling in youth, and then gradually less buffeted by life's ups and downs. One thing against this is that humans are not rational, and specifically not rational accountants of their own well-being. But then the theory of the hedonic treadmill would support the idea of something like a moving average for happiness (I brain fails when it comes to real stretching).

Abstract from a related paper [pdf] with too many numbers for me to really enjoy
There is consent among psychologists and some economists that satisfaction from some events, like income and marriage, is adaptive. We propose a subtle but vital difference: happiness may itself be adaptive. First we present a model to explain the emergence of adaptive stimuli. We test our hypotheses running dynamic happiness regressions based on data from the German Socio-Economic Panel Study, the British Household Panel Survey and the Swiss Household Panel. Surprisingly, the autoregressive component is positive and significant in most econometric models considered. We propose that the hedonic treadmill may be mixed with what we call the "scale treadmill".
Deconstructing the Hedonic Treadmill Perez, Ricardo and Bottan (2008)

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