How Will You Know When Enough Is Enough?

Combat perfectionism by learning to satisfice

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This is the third post in our series on perfectionism. You can find the others here and here.

There are 2 types of people in this world (Just kidding! We live in a world much more diverse and nuanced than that!). But there is a dichotomy around decision making that I want to share, because it can help inform your understanding of, and help you to combat, perfectionism.

What is this dichotomy? It’s the “maximizer” vs. the “satisficer”

A maximizer is someone who’s always striving for the best in any situation. The maximizer is striving for perfect. You might be a maximizer if you:

  • Spend LOTS of time researching even small purchases
  • Delay decision making because you don’t feel you have enough info
  • Have a strong need to compare ALL the options before making a decision

Now, if you’re nodding along in self-recognition, there’s also a high likelihood that you might be a perfectionist. It’s not always the case, of course. But it often is.

There’s nothing wrong with being a maximizer. In fact, there are a lot of upsides. I always tell my clients that you want to lean into being a maximizer for those big, one-way-door types of decisions. You know, like having a baby, or quitting a job.

But, maximizers also tend to spend way too much time and effort on decisions of little consequence.

If you find yourself in that situation, then I want to tell you about the other side of this coin: the satisficer. The satisficer is striving for good enough. The satisficer defines a set of criteria, and then acts on the first thing that meets that criteria. The satisficer isn’t waiting for something better to come along if they’ve already got something good enough.

Now, if you tend towards being a maximizer, you might be thinking “well, good enough just isn’t good enough …for me”.

But here’s the thing. A satisficer isn’t “settling”. You get to define your own criteria and your own thresholds. So, go ahead and define that criteria. Set that threshold. And set it high. Higher than you think any satisficer would.

Because remember, perfect isn’t possible. So take hold of your inner satisficer and try it on for size. You might be surprised at how well it fits if you give it a chance.

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