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The choices of Y

27 March 2015
sd
by: Jasper Roosdorp

This is about Y. Y possesses something quite valuable. Y obtained the opportunity to model his life the way he wants to. He possesses complete freedom. After learning about his option, he’ll make well-considered choices. Success is within reach. This is about Y, but also about how his freedom interferes with his happiness.

I am Y. And most likely, so are you. Everyone that was born between, say, 1980 and 2000 belongs to generation Y. Together, we’ve formed a generation that, in general, is convinced that people are for a great deal responsible for their quality of life. Thanks to our freedom of choice, success can now be achieved by practically anyone. At least, that’s what we believe. We experience a higher need to perform well. Because doing well is possible. By having great study results for instance, or an important job on the side and a great group of friends. A healthy diet, sports, and enough sleep should be only normal. Because you have the possibilities.

The paradox of choice

Y makes his choices, but that doesn’t always make him happy. Because Y knows that choosing is losing. After all, when deciding to go with a certain option, Y misses out on all the other options. And when a choice turns out to be not so great, then that’s only the fault of the one that made that decision. American Psychologist Barry Schwartz discusses the negative effects of freedom of choice in ‘The Paradox of Choice’. When we truly believe that we are fully in charge of our own lives, than we consequentially become responsible for every possible thing in our lives that could be improved. That’s harsh to say the least. The maximizer definitely had his share of issues with his freedom of choice.

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Maximizers and satisficers

Herbert Simon defined maximizers as the people that extensively weigh up the pros and cons of their options before making a decision. That’s how they hope to make the best possible choice. Contrary to these people, there are so-called satisficers: the people that are fine with one of the very first options that occur. Although maximizers tend to make better choices on average, somehow they are less happy about their decision. The ‘maximizing’ Y easily recognizes the negative effects of his choice, because comparing things has become his second nature.

Keep smiling

Although the satisficers may not be role models in every way, there’s a lot to be learned from them. That it’s a good thing to stop pondering after a decision has been made, for instance. Or that your focus should be on the positive results instead of the negative results after choosing. And that you shouldn’t make the pressure of choosing bigger than necessary. Because, after all, a life is long and there are hardly any choices that define the rest of your life. Luckily for Y, he lives in a time packed with possibilities. Having to make so many choices also means that there will be new choices. There will be new chances after a less than great decision.

I wish you the best of luck, Y.

Last modified:17 February 2017 11.08 a.m.
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