I bought some new golf shoes last summer.
I was walking through Golf Warehouse with my friend, Plato, when I came upon the shoe department. Sitting on the very front of the department was a pair of waterproof golf shoes.
"I'll take these," I said.
"That's it?" Plato asked incredulously. "You're not going to look at any others? You didn't do any research?"
At his urging, I made a perfunctory examination of the the many options available to me, but about five minutes later, I returned to the first pair I saw. "Nope, these are good."
They've been serving me well ever since.
This has become a source of amusement amongst some of my friends. They scoff at my un-informed purchase and see me as someone who blindly plows through life, grabbing the first shiny object I see.
"Not so," I say.
Researchers in the decision making process have identified two types of decision makers:
Satisficers make a decision once their criteria are met. When they find a hotel or a pizza or a pair of golf shoes that has the qualities they want, they’re satisfied. Although a slightly better version of the product may exist just a few feet away, they stop looking once the minimum requirements have been met.
For me, I wanted waterproof golf shoes in a size 9. Once I found those two qualities in a single shoe, I was done.
Maximizers want to make the best possible decision. Even if they see a bicycle or an apple or a pair of golf shoes that meets their needs, they can’t make a decision until they’ve examined every option. They are the researchers. The comparison shoppers. The folks who prize quality over speed. These are the shoppers who constantly return items to the store after second guessing their decision.
Here's what the research shows:
Satisficers tend to be happier than maximizers.
According to the research, a lot happier.
Maximizers expend more time and energy reaching decisions, and they’re often anxious about their choices both before and after the decision has been made. They have increased levels of stress, both during the decision making process and overall.
Satisficers rarely look back on a decision if their minimum requirements were met. They use significantly less time and energy in the decision making process. They tend to exhibit lower levels of stress throughout their lives.
It's good to be a satisficer.
Obviously there are times when you want to be a maximizer. Some decisions demand your maximum level of attention and effort.
Choosing a home
Choosing a spouse.
Planning a vacation.
Deciding on a baseball team to love and support throughout your life.
These are decisions that can end in disaster if you're not careful.
You could end up as a Red Sox fan vacationing on Staten Island.
But sometimes, many times, oftentimes, good enough is good enough.
Those golf shoes were good enough. They still are.