the paradox of choice

Thanks to a great recommendation by my SIL Karren, I finally read The Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz. I am plagued with indecisiveness, but I'm getting better. Between this book and Dave's increasing annoyance with my indecisiveness AND his increasing active role in MAKING me decide...I'm off to a great start in deciding fast. The other day, I chose shampoo in like 1 minute. A RECORD.

I hope to be turning over a new leaf...because in reality, few choices really matter. And most of your day-to-day choices won't be your last bowl of ice cream, last ordered entree, last yard of fabric, last movie you'll ever watch, etc. I thought I'd just share his 11 tips on "what to do about choice", in case you are plagued with the same problem.

This book is a lot of him explaining studies and while it is very interesting, it can be a bit hard to get into. As the date I had to return to book loomed nearer, I did skip a few pages so I could get to the WHAT TO DO part. I mean, the studies and observations on human behaviors was VERY interesting (if you're into that sort of thing), but it came down to this: we have way too much to choose between, and human nature means that we totally suck at making a choice (especially when you add in more things to choose between) and being happy with it.

That being said, here's the list:

1. Choose when to choose. e.g. I will go to two stores, and that is it. (I am totally trying this next time). OR, I will always put my seat belt on, etc. Simplify your choices.

2. Be a chooser, not a picker (not sure what this meant)

3. Satisfice more, maximize less A satisficer is someone who thinks "this is good enough". e.g. I want a sweater that is pink and is less that $50. AS SOON AS I find a sweater that meets those standards , I stop looking. I don't look at just one more store to see if I can find one for $5 less. Satisficers have good standards, and they don't keep looking. FYI, satisficers are happier with their choices than maximizers because they didn't spend five hours OR all their sanity trying to find THE BEST sweater. I really like this.

4. Think about opportunity costs of opportunity costs An opportunity cost is what you give up by choosing something. I believe the author emphasizes that you should only think about the second best choice as your opportunity costs, but often there are many second choices, and no real clear "first choice". BUT, thinking about everything you are giving up makes you crazy and less satisfied. Thinking about opportunity costs is good, because it can help you figure out what really matters. But don't go overboard.

5. Make decisions irreversible When you can't go back, you choose and move on.

6. Attitude of gratitude

7. Regret less

8. Anticipate adaptation e.g. after two months, your new car won't be as cool. Realize that, and maybe don't agonize over things you may not think are worth the time/cost in a while.

9. Control expectations

10. Curtail social comparison

11. Learn to love constraints His main point, I think, is you can make yourself "rules" (only two stores, always wear seat belt, etc). Love these rules because they make your life easier.

I hope this helps those of you who take waaaay too long to decide an ice cream flavor, shampoo brand or cereal.


super awesome kt said...

Nice review! Makes me want to re-read it. I loved the research, but I can see if you want the key points it might bog you down :)

By the way, Bruce finished 'Complications' last night - the first book he's finished in awhile!

Katya said...

i'm pretty sure i need to read this book. sounds fascinating! (and potentially quite helpful, as i'm plagued by chronic indecision as well. although, i think part of it is not wanting to displease people, like in a "what movie should we watch" kind of situation i'm always like "i dunno!" when actually i'm thinking "can we please watch amelie?")

Kristen said...

Looks like a good read. I'll have to see if my library has it! Thanks for the recommendation, I'm always looking for good reads.