Main BOS Logo

Earlier this year, I reviewed the different legal documents that people can put in place to make their health care wishes known.  My research got me to thinking. While getting older may come with more physical and mental challenges, there are also some benefits of aging. One benefit is the ability to make better decisions. While some cognitive decline is a normal part of the aging process, making good decisions also requires the experience and knowledge that come with life experience.

As we age, many people gravitate to becoming satisficers. Satisficers are those individuals who seek options that are “good enough” and make their decisions once their criteria have been met. For example, a satisficer may want to stay at a hotel that has a fitness center and will make the reservation after finding a hotel with a fitness center that meets their criteria.

Other people, however, tend to be maximizers. Maximizers are those individuals who tend to obsess about the choices and will not make a decision until after they have looked at every option available and feel comfortable that they are making the very best decision. A maximizer, for instance, would look at many hotels that had fitness centers but would not make a reservation until they were certain they had found the hotel with the best fitness center. In other words, maximizers suffer from F.O.B.O./Fear of Better Options1.

Some individuals are chameleons when making decisions. They embrace both methods of decision-making and use the style best suited for the particular situation. For example, a person may be a maximizer when willing to spend hours shopping to find the perfect dress for a relative’s wedding but a satisficer when deciding where to enjoy a good meal in San Francisco.

Often, it can take significantly less effort and brain power to come up with an option that will work rather than finding the optimal solution. Sometimes an obsession with finding the perfect answer may lead to unnecessary stress or regrets.

With this in mind, I will try not to suffer from F.O.B.O. when it comes to getting my health care documents in order and my choice of where I will live when I am 90. As I age, I will more often embrace being a satisficer, aiming to put many of my daily decisions in perspective and being appreciative and grateful for each decision I make.


1. F.O.B.O. (Fear of Better Options) is an acronym coined by Patrick J. McGinnis to describe his business school classmates who were juggling multiple job offers and were afraid to commit to an offer in case something better came along.

Filed under: Estate Planning

back to all posts

Get B|O|S Perspectives
in Your Inbox