Learning to be a Satisficer

For the last two months, my husband, dog and I have been living in limbo.  We have been displaced from our home as it is repaired from being flooded in Hurricane Matthew.  We, thankfully, have insurance for most of the losses but for the last month, we have been overwhelmed by decision fatigue. I have never desired to build a home.   I’d rather fix a house with paint or new furniture than decide how big a room should be or what size windows or which way the house should face.  I realize now that if we built something from scratch that it would be my fault if we made bad decisions.  This is the downside for a Maximizer (re: perfectionist).  There would be the ongoing questions of What if? We should have? Why did we?

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The problem is that now we are in the middle of remodeling about 80% of the house.  I don’t want to remodel my house.  I like it how it was.  But like it or not, we have to make decisions.  The secret is to be a Satisficer.  Shahram Heshmat in Psychology Today writes, “Maximizing are people who strive to get the very best out of every decision.  Satisficing are individuals who are pleased to settle for a good enough option, not necessarily the very best outcome in all respects.”  But the Satisficer is happier in the long run.  They have less regrets.   I don’t want regrets 6 months from now.  I need to embrace being a Satisficer.

 

Here is how to be a Satisficer:

 

  • Get a good night’s sleep.  This may require medication depending on your stress level.  My husband and my stress levels have been through the roof for the last two months with the bureaucracy of mortgage and insurance companies.   It was making it hard to get a good night’s sleep.  The lack of sleep led to heated debates on everything from the color of sinks to the timing of fixing the roof.  I found that when I got a good night’s sleep, I was able to get out of Maximizer mode (i.e. it’s my way or the highway) and back into Satisficer mode (i.e. it’s good enough).  If you need to make a decision on a new job, your marital status or a career move?  Get a good night’s sleep.

 

  • Make decisions on a full stomach.  My daughter can tell if I’m “hangry” from a thousand paces.  If I’m hangry, I’m short tempered, anxious and unpleasant to be around.  This is not a good state of mind for decision-making.  If I go grocery shopping on an empty stomach, we suddenly end up with twice the groceries and half the nutritional substance (i.e. Cheetos instead of apples).  My husband and I went to look at plumbing supplies and made sure we grabbed lunch before heading in.  We made much more sound decisions and delayed making decisions on things that weren’t needed for several months or could be found elsewhere.  Be sure to eat before making important decisions.

 

  • Start early if possible.  We start the day with the most willpower and energy (as long as you have the first bullet).  With each decision we make, a little piece of will power erodes as the day goes on.  It is affected by minor decisions like what to wear or what to eat.  So, if we headed into the plumbing supply store after 5 PM, we would likely buy a bathtub, toilet, vanity, sink and three faucets along with a kitchen sink just for kicks.  Instead we arrived at 1 PM and zeroed in on the two decisions we had to make and left.  Your best decisions are made early in the day.

 

  • Break it down into doable parts.  As I write this, we have 9 rooms in various states of disarray.  One still doesn’t have walls or a floor, the fireplace is torn up, the kitchen needs all the lower cabinets removed and one wall probably needs to be rebuilt.  This is overwhelming.  All told there are probably about a thousand decisions minor and major still to be made.  So my brilliant husband said, “Let’s just worry about the shower.”  OK.  Whew.  Only one or two decisions instead of a thousand.  So much better.

 

  • Decide the criteria.  My husband and I know what we are looking for before we head into Lowe’s, the flooring place or plumbing supply.  We decide on the short list, what color and quality we want and then head in.  This makes Satificing so much easier.  Top quality is important on the shower fixture but not on the sink fixture.  This is our criteria but it may not be yours.  But that’s OK.  As long as my husband and I agree, that’s what’s important.  Decide on the criteria before you start to analyze your options.

 

This has been a work-in-progress.  I can’t tell you I haven’t been overwhelmed several times.  I also try and trust the sales people.  I asked the guy at the flooring place what carpet he would buy and he showed us.  It wasn’t the most expensive but he felt it was the most durable and easiest to clean.  Done.  Rely on other people’s expertise and then move on.

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