In my post on booking cheap travel I mentioned that I’m a recovering optimizer. Here’s a little more on the subject.
Wikipedia defines satisficing* as: ‘…the tendency to select the first option that meets a given need or select the option that seems to address most needs rather than the â€œoptimalâ€ solution.’ Optimizers, on the other hand, can’t handle the thought that there might be something better just around the corner. The problem is that it’s so easy to find “corners” today. The internet gives you searches and meta-searches. You can read reviews from dozens of people you’ve never met. Try Consumer Reports. Wait for the next version of the product to be released (which is always only a couple months away). Consider getting it used on eBay or craigslist.
Compared to a decade ago, there are way more sources for any given product or service, and/or easy access to sources previously out of reach. If you’re not careful, you can end up with a feeling of regret over every decision you make!
Barry Schwartz has some great thoughts on this topic, found in his book The Paradox of Choice, and in the following video of a talk he gave at Google:
So next time you find yourself agonizing over a decision, especially a purchase, ask yourself how important it really is that you get the absolute best deal on the absolute best option. If you’re not talking about a new home, keep the agonizing to a minimum, pick your top choice, and move on.
* I first came across the term “satisficing” from Steve Krug’s excellent book Don’t Make Me Think