For reasons that remain shrouded in mystery, the TV in my “man cave” recently decided to stop working.
So, I decided to go online and buy a new one.
It wasn’t long before I found the “perfect” TV.
One review said it had the most amazing picture that any human being had ever laid eyes on.
Great, I thought. I’ll have that one.
But I decided to do a bit more research, just to be sure there wasn’t something better out there.
Then, I came across another review of the exact same TV.
This guy said that the picture wasn’t all that great. And that navigating through the menu was slower than a herd of tortoises stampeding through glue.
He recommended a completely different TV.
And so it continued.
Until, after looking at every single TV currently for sale on planet earth, I became thoroughly bored with the whole thing and gave up.
So why am I sharing this with you?
My quest to find the “best” TV is much the same process that people go through when looking for a diet and exercise program to follow.
What is the best workout for this? What is the best exercise for that?
It’s a perfectly reasonable question to ask. Who wants to waste time doing stuff that doesn’t work?
The problem lies in what happens next:
1. Spend hours searching for the “best” thing.
2. Try it for a week or two then stop because a new “best” thing shows up.
3. Repeat the process, with little or nothing to show for it.
Searching for the best – be it a new TV, diet, exercise program, partner or whatever – is a decision strategy known as “maximizing.”
From “The Paradox of Choice” by Barry Schwartz:
“Maximizers need to be assured that every purchase or decision was the best that could be made. Yet how can anyone truly know that any given option is absolutely the best possible?
“The only way to know is to check out all the alternatives. As a decision strategy, maximizing creates a daunting task, which becomes all the more daunting as the number of options increases.
“The alternative to maximizing is to be a satisficer. To satisfice is to settle for something that is good enough and not worry about the possibility that there might be something better.
“A satisficer has criteria and standards. She searches until she finds an item that meets those standards, and at that point, she stops.
“To a maximizer, satisficers appear to be willing to settle for mediocrity, but that is not the case. A satisficer may be just as discriminating as a maximizer. The difference between the two types is that the satisficer is content with the merely excellent as opposed to the absolute best.
“I believe that the goal of maximizing is a source of great dissatisfaction, that it can make people miserable – especially in a world that insists on providing an overwhelming number of choices, both trivial and not so trivial.”
Choice, in general, is a good thing.
But too much of it definitely isn’t.
Freedom to choose has a darker side.
You want to make sure that every decision is the best decision that could possibly be made. And the only way to do that is to check out all the alternatives.
Even after you’ve done that, there are still nagging doubts in your mind that there may be something better out there that you didn’t investigate properly.
So many possible paths to walk down, with no way to know in advance which is the “right” one.
Which training program should I use?
Which diet should I follow?
What supplements should I take?
Eventually you hit “choice overload.”
The sheer number of options, combined with the fear of making the “wrong” choice, leaves you paralyzed.
Unable to make a decision about what to do next.
If you find yourself stuck in a “maximizing” cycle, take “satisficing” for a test drive instead.
Sometimes the best way to get your gluteus maximus in gear is to forget about looking for the absolute best and just choose something that is good enough.
See Also: The Flat Belly Cheat Sheet
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