This post is part of a series about The Paradox of Choice, a book about why more is less. Leave a comment below and I may randomly pick you to win one of three autographed copies. Read more of this series.
So, we’re in a society with almost infinite choice. Why is that so bad? Unfortunately, many of us have a tendency to need to investigate all possibilities. That can be especially tough with so many options. Those who succumb are attempting to maximize.
Maximizers need to be assured that every purchase or decision was the best that could be made. Yet how can anyone truly know that any given option is absolutely the best possible? The only way to know is to check out all the alternatives.
The alternative to maximizing is to be a satisficer. A satisficer has criteria and standards. She searches until she finds an item that meets those standards, and at that point, she stops.
If this sounds like the incrementalist and the completionist, it’s very similar. The completionist wants it to be just right–he wants to investigate all the possibilities. The incrementalist is looking for is “good enough for now”–she is satisficing.
In the book, Barry Schwartz argues that maximizing too much makes us unhappy. I’ll show a few more examples of that later in this series.
Before you get down on yourself and feel even worse, it’s important to note that you are not one or the other. There are things about which you maximize and others where you satisfice. The trick is to acknowledge your weak points and find ways to be happier without investigating all the options.
What do you maximize? Have you found any solutions?