Since reading The Paradox of Choice, I’ve actively tried to be a satisficer, not a maximizer. I consciously try to make decisions without weighing EVERY. SINGLE. POSSIBLE. OPTION. I decide what is important, and when I find something that meets that criteria, I stop looking. This worked incredibly well for me when I was looking to buy a home (saw one place, it meet my needs, bought it less than 24 hours later). It takes conscious effort, though, for me to be a satisficer. My natural inclination is that I want to see every single option. I want to weigh ALL the possibilities (which doesn’t necessarily make me happier).
In less than two months, I’ll be walking the Camino de Santiago. More later on why I’m doing that. But for now, I’m (contrary to my normal mode) planning. I’m walking more, aiming for 50+ miles/week. I’m researching clothing options. I’m weighing the things I’ll carry in my backpack. I’m reading forums and asking questions.
I thought I had found my Cinderella shoe. A month ago, I bought the Oboz Sawtooth Low BDry Hiking Shoe. It was so comfortable in the store. It was solid and provided the support I felt I needed. I brought it home and took it out for walks. On my week day-ly 6-mile hikes it was comfortable. But on the longer 10+ mile walks, I noticed that my toes went numb, and then I began to have shooting pains in my feet. And, for some reason, the top of my left foot was becoming bruised. But maybe, I thought, my hiking shoes just needed to be broken in more. So I walked, and walked, and walked. And continued to be in pain.
Today I figured I should try to find a new pair of shoes, while I still have time to break them in before the start of my trip. I went to REI (my favorite place to buy gear) with the intent of buying one pair of comfortable shoes. Anna, the kindest and most patient of sales clerks, brought out several waterproof styles. I tried each on. When I first put them on, they were comfortable. And then I walked around in each pair for about 10 minutes. And each pair created intense pain on the top of my left foot. Anna commented that I had an unusually high instep (I do, which is why I generally don’t wear shoes that lace up). I tried on more pairs. My left foot continued to hurt. Anna went on break. Steve helped me. I continued to try on shoes, walking around the store. Anna came back from break. I looked at the stack of 13 unsuccessful pairs of shoes to my right, and wondered if I was reverting to maximizer behavior. I re-tried on each pair, with the sole criteria of “Does this hurt?” If it did, it went to the reject pile. All were rejected. Anna brought out more boxes of shoes. In the end, there were two pairs of shoes that hurt less than all others. One, a pair of trail running shoes, and the other, a pair of hiking boots. I opted to go with the trail runners. My goal – as little pain as possible while walking ~15 miles a day. Here’s to being a satisficer!