#416 The Paradox of Choice

Maximizer vs. Satisficer <- Which Are You?

You may have noticed that we live in a world with near infinite choice on nearly everything.

You may think that being able to choose from such a dazzling array of options is a good thing.

And, of course, to an extent options are great.


And this is a big but…

Research shows that TOO MUCH choice can actually work against us.

Enter: The Paradox of Choice.

Here’s how Barry Schwartz puts it: “The fact that some choice is good doesn’t necessarily mean that more choice is better. As I will demonstrate, there is a cost to having an overload of choice. As a culture, we are enamored of freedom, self-determination, and variety, and we are reluctant to give up any of our options. But clinging tenaciously to all the choices available to us contributes to bad decisions, to anxiety, stress, and dissatisfaction — even to clinical depression.”


Here’s the short story on how to Optimize.

Schwartz tells us that we can be either a “Maximizer” or a “Satisficer.”

A Maximizer is pretty much always trying to make the perfect decision on everything. They’ve gotta get the best deal on the best product. All the time. Repeat with relationships, creative opportunities, etc. (That’s enough to stress me out just thinking about it.)

The Satisficer, on the other hand, has established a “good enough” standard and, once that standard is met, they make the decision and move on. (I’m relaxing just imagining that.)

As Schwartz says: “The difference between the two types is that the satisficer is content with the merely excellent as opposed to the absolute best. I believe that the goal of maximizing is a source of great dissatisfaction, that it can make people miserable — especially in a world that insists on providing an overwhelming number of choices, both trivial and not so trivial.”

Today’s +1.

Pop quiz: Do you tend to show up as a Maximizer or a Satisficer?

Any thoughts on how you can Optimize that just a bit?

P.S. Fun note: Although the word Optimize comes from the Latin optimus which means “the best,” let’s remember that, paradoxically, the “best” way to express the best version of ourselves is often via aggregating and compounding a bunch of “merely excellent” decisions and behaviors rather than stressing ourselves out in The Pursuit of Perfect.

Which brings up a longer discussion on Tal Ben-Shahar’s book by the same name and his point that the OPTIMALIST is the one who embraces “the best” within the constraints of reality rather than driving themselves nuts trying to make everything perfect all the time. (See that +1 for more!)

P.P.S. Fun fact: As you could probably guess, I’m not a big fan of shopping for clothes. In the spirit of reducing choices, I have one pair of jeans. I bought them over a decade ago. 🤡

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