Are you stalled from moving forward on a project because you can’t make a decision? Perhaps you aren’t sure which contractor to hire, which bookkeeping software to use, or which after-school program your kids should attend… Life requires lots of decisions.
Our decision making styles are inherent parts of our personality, and they fall into two groups: maximizers and satisficers. In a nutshell, maximizers must examine all options before making a choice, while satisficers choose the first option that meets their criteria. To learn more, here’s a quick article by happiness guru, Gretchen Rubin, and if you like to learn straight from the ivory tower, check out this scholarly paper.
Seems that most people are a bit of a mix, or adopt one of the two styles dependent on the situation. For example, I tend to be a satisficer, but when it comes to researching vacation hotels, I am a maximizer.
I don’t know if it’s possible to change our styles, but I’m wondering if just understanding them may be helpful. Just because we have a natural tendency to act in a specific way doesn’t mean we have to follow that inclination. Staying within our comfort zones often keeps us stuck in auto-pilot, landing at the same destination again and again. To move forward, we have to consciously act outside our comfort zone.
Maximizers may want to try limiting choices and setting a deadline for the selection process. A gratitude journal can be helpful in refocusing on the positive and looking forward, instead of worrying about what they might be missing.
Satisficers can aim for comparing three options, so they don’t make an impulsive decision that doesn’t serve them well. It may also be worthwhile to take some time to review anything they might do differently, so they are better prepared for future decisions.
Conscious awareness or our decision making styles and a willingness to try something new may be just what we need to get unstuck and make progress toward our goals.