05 August 2010

Good Enough?

This summer, I haven't read nearly as much as I would have liked, but what I've read has been good.

Right now, I'm working on "Paradox of Choice" by Barry Schwartz. I particularly like the subtitle: How the culture of abundance robs us of satisfaction.

I've just read a particularly interesting section I'd thought I'd share: Maximizers versus Satisficers.

Maximizers are those that do a lot of research/thinking when faced with a choice, whether it be over a new job or a new sweater. Maximizers have very high standards and will agonize over nearly every decision, wondering if they could have found a better deal elsewhere.

Satisficers, on the other hand, don't feel the need to "shop around". They don't worry about the best deal - if they come across an item, situation, etc., that meets their standards and criteria, they take it. It's not that they have lower standards, it's just that they are perfectly content with 'good enough'.

You might read the above descriptions and know which category you mostly fit into. Really, though, no single person is ever an 100% Maximizer or Satisficer...we all have categories in which we maximize or satisfice. Most of the time, Brent and I are satisficers - we make decisions with very little regret. But, Brent is definitely a maximizer when it comes to technology - he will deliberate over those matters intensely. For example, he spent an ardent, agonizing week earlier this summer deciding if he really wanted/needed a BlackBerry. There was much debate and rumination on his part, both internal and external. On the other hand, I'm pretty impulsive, and usually it works out pretty good for me.

However, the author of this book contends that people will be most content if they can fit themselves into the Satisficers category for most decisions. This could mean major personality changes for some people.

Frankly, I think this can lead to some very good questions: What is the best? Why is it so important? What's so wrong with good enough?