The Fine Art of Limitation

Blog segment from the Be More With Less blog…

The Fine Art of Limitation

You are faced with endless decisions to make each day. You are blessed with the power of choice and often cursed with too many options. Just think about a trip to the grocery store without a list. You could be lost in the cereal aisle for hours.

You can have everything you want and more, and if you don’t have the money for it, someone will lend it to you. Excessive options don’t just apply to stuff, but also to how we spend our time, what we eat, where we go, how we go there and who goes with us.

I understand that there are places and people without choice, and we are lucky to have it, but know that self-imposed limitation actually expands quality of life.

The purpose of limits is not deprivation or suffering, but a way to decide what you really need, what you really want, and how you want to live your life.

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One thought on “The Fine Art of Limitation

  1. The best example I have seen about this as it relates to business is when I wrote an Industrial Psychology paper on this same subject. One of the best businesses to have harnassed this idea is Trader Joes. This article was written after I graduated but it says what I had researched:

    http://money.cnn.com/2010/08/20/news/companies/inside_trader_joes_full_version.fortune/

    Illustrative excerpt:

    “Swapping selection for value turns out not to be much of a tradeoff. Customers may think they want variety, but in reality too many options can lead to shopping paralysis. “People are worried they’ll regret the choice they made,” says Barry Schwartz, a Swarthmore professor and author of The Paradox of Choice. “People don’t want to feel they made a mistake.” Studies have found that buyers enjoy purchases more if they know the pool of options isn’t quite so large. Trader Joe’s organic creamy unsalted peanut butter will be more satisfying if there are only nine other peanut butters a shopper might have purchased instead of 39. Having a wide selection may help get customers in the store, but it won’t increase the chances they’ll buy. (It also explains why so often people are on their cellphones at the supermarket asking their significant other which detergent to get.) “It takes them out of the purchasing process and puts them into a decision-making process,” explains Stew Leonard Jr., CEO of grocer Stew Leonard’s, which also subscribes to the “less is more” mantra.

    Customers accept that Trader Joe’s has only two kinds of pudding or one kind of polenta because they trust that those few items will be very good. “If they’re going to get behind only one jar of Greek olives, then they’re sure as heck going to make sure it’s the most fabulous jar of Greek olives they can find for the price,” explains one former employee. To ferret out those wow items, Trader Joe’s has four top buyers, called product developers, do some serious globetrotting. A former senior executive told me that Trader Joe’s biggest R&D expense is travel for those product-finding missions. Trade shows that feature the flavor of the moment “are for rookies,” a former buyer said. Trader Joe’s doesn’t pick up on trends — it sets them.”

    I reached the conclusion my dream career could be as a TJ’s product developer 🙂 travel and food . . . I could suck it up and live like that 🙂

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