Be Happier and Make Decisions that are "Good Enough"

Suppose your laptop broke down or is showing signs of wear and tear. You finally decide to go shopping for a brand new laptop computer.

Good Enough - Satisficer

The satisficer says, "I just need one that will let me check my e-mail, run YouTube, be able to play movies, and of course is reasonably priced. It doesn't have to have the best processor or even have the biggest hard drive."

You go to the department store and check out four different laptops. Of course you try and figure out which one will suit your needs and is priced reasonably. You weed out the most expensive model because it has more gadgets than you really need. Since you plan on keeping your laptop for a while, you want something that is durable and not made cheaply. So, the least expensive laptop is out of the question. Now you have two to chose from. Just when you are about to pick one over the other, the sales associate comes over and introduces you to three more laptops. You feel like you've already made a decision on your laptop, so you stick with yours and head for the checkout line. All of this might have taken you thirty minutes tops. You understand that you might have not made the "best" choice, but it is one that is good enough for your needs. The extra time spent on trying to compare and contrast the other three laptops is not worth the effort for the incremental benefit. Now dust your hands off, you've just made yourself a decent purchase.

Best Option Ever - Maximixer

The maximizer says, "I want to find the best laptop for my money."

Despite your high expectations right off the bat, like the satisficer, you were able to weed out two of the laptops right off the bat. But, the moment the sales associate brings in those other three laptops, you begin to analyze those as well. One of the laptops is actually fairly similar to that of another. The only difference is one has a bigger hard drive, while the other one has a better graphics card. You do want to play games on this laptop, but you also value the extra storage for your movies and music. After thirty minutes of going back and forth, you finally make a reluctant decision to go with the one with extra storage. On the way back home, you question whether or not you truly made the best decision. While objectively you've considered more alternatives and weighed the pros and cons a whole lot better than the satisficer, you can't help but question if you made the best choice after all.

Most likely the maximizer ended up with the better laptop when compared to the price paid. However because of higher expectations, the maximizer feels as if he could have done better. It is nearly impossible to scrutinize every little detail and come out with the "best" choice. That task is further complicated when even more choices are added to the equation. As a result, maximizers will unequivocally feel unsatisfied and disappointed at the results.

Signs you are a maximizer include the following:

1) You are always on the look out for a better job, even if you are satisfied with your current.
2) You TV channel surf even when attempting to watch one TV show.
3) Renting videos are difficult because you always want to choose the best one.
4) No matter what you do, you hold myself to high standards.
5) You have trouble picking what to eat because you struggle to make the correct choice.

What is the morale of this story? If you want to be happy, be a satisficer. If you want to optimize be a maximizer.

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