I hate shopping. I know, I am told I am in the minority. One time when I went shopping for a saree for Diwali, I walked into a store and my eyes happened to alight on a particular colour I wanted, that was missing in my wardrobe. I asked the salesman to show it to me. He did. I liked what I saw and said “pack it”. The salesman was shocked. I had spent a total of 5 minutes at the store. “Ma’m let me show you more” he offered. No, that won’t be necessary I said as I strode towards the billing counter so that I can get out of the store ASAP. Many of my friends think I am silly for making my decision at the first store and that I should look at a few other stores before deciding. But I find that exhausting and unappealing. I wish I was as decisive about many other things in life, but I am not.
Recently I came across the concept of Satisficers and Maximisers. Satisficers are people who see something, find it appealing and go for it. Maximizers are people who want to make sure that they are getting the best of what is available and therefore will agonize before they decide. They are always tormented by what ELSE is out there that they are missing out on. What we call today ‘FOMO’ – fear of missing out.
When our family goes to a new restaurant, my son will decide on a dish within two minutes and order it. When it arrives and it tastes good, he will be very happy with it. I am not like that. I have to go through the entire 16-page menu to make sure I have not missed something exciting. And after all that research as my tummy is growling, I will order something which when it arrives, I want to swap it with my husband’s dish because his tastes better. My daughter will struggle to even order in the first place – she will agonize over whether she should pick pasta, pav bhaji or pan fried noodles. My husband is in another category. He hates shopping and restaurant menu browsing with equal fervour. He chooses not to look at the menu at all. Whatever I decide to order for him, he will eat it happily. And I guess I am lucky that I can swap any dish with him. He sees a meal as a meal. Not his last meal on death row that must be maximized. Each of us with such different attitudes and approaches.
I think much of our happiness in life and sometimes even success depends on whether we are satisficers or maximizers. Satisficers are happy with their decisions even if they are not perfect, but Maximizers are always looking for something “better” which they are sure is out there. Some of our decisions may be good and some may be bad, but the inability to make decisions or being overwhelmed by decision making is the difference between being stuck and moving forward. And it is true that we may not have the same decision-making pattern in all realms of our life. So maybe we need to reflect on a situation where we struggle to make a decision. Are we being a Satisficer or a Maximizer?