So, for my experimental Psych class I read this fascinating journal article, Doing Better but Feeling Worse Iyengar et al (2006).
A proverb sums it up: “Success is getting what you want. Happiness is wanting what you get.”
It basically tested “maximizers” vs. “satisficers”- maximizers are those who “seek the best and requires an exhaustive search of all possibilities”, while satisficers “seek “good enough” searching until encountering an option that crosses the threshold of acceptability.” Ok- pause. I am a maximizer- for sure. I always knew this was one of my greatest strengths AND weaknesses.
This RESEARCH (based on real research, using the scientific method, and objective data, by professors at Columbia Business School and Swarthmore College's Psychology Dept.) shows that while maximizers do tend to have better objective outcomes- they have negative and worse affect (subjectivity, emotions, happiness with the outcome although objectively the outcome is better i.e. higher salary, etc.). It may seem ironic, but, perhaps it can best be summed up as, “Maximizers, then, epitomize the type of decision maker who may overestimate the affective benefits that result from pursuing the best objective outcome, and underestimate the affective costs of a process that involves evaluating as many options as possible and fixating on choices that may be nonexistent (Iyengar et al, 2006).”
I don’t want to write too much- as I also have a ton of work to do- but I thought this was important to share. I could blab on about my own thoughts on this- and I have a TON...but I'm sure you can ponder the implications of this yourself. I know that a lot of my dear friends are also maximizers- and I know it’s a part of your personality, just like it is mine. We won’t change overnight because we read this. However, it’s something we can be aware of, and through that self-awareness learn to: A) don’t beat yourself too hard or be unhappy with the results of your endless efforts, because realistically, you probably would fee that way regardless of the outcome(!) B) stop endlessly looking for options, particularly imaginary ones(!)*I do this a lot... particularly with business/business ideas C) be happy with any good outcome in respect for that hard work you put in which produced it(!!!!)... You DESERVE to feel fulfilled emotionally, and it was not worth all that headache if you are not HAPPY in the end.
P.S.- one more note: they found that a very important variable which mediated this subjective negative affect was that naturally, maximizers also compare themselves more to other people (probably because we are used to always looking at ALL the options- maybe even options that are not ours(!)...) So- one way to combat this is of course.... *drum roll please*: don't compare yourself to others. You are only in a very friendly competition with yourself- and as long as everyday you work honestly to better yourself, FOR yourself, you are always winning. :)