July 28, 2015

Are you a Maximizer or a Satisficer?

Remodeling this house has taught me a lot about myself.

Gretchen Rubin said something in her podcast a few weeks ago that really struck me: Are you a maximizer or a satisficer?  You can read an article on the subject here but, in short, a maximizer must examine every choice from every angle in order to be sure the best decision is being made.  A satisficer will make a decision as soon as they find the need is met.

This can apply to almost anything and I can see traits of both types of decision-making in myself.
Gretchen gives the example of the wedding dress in the article I linked above.  I, for example, tried on about 3 wedding dresses, and went with the one I originally assumed I was going to get.  I felt no need to try on all the dresses I could find.  I was satisfied and I think this comes from knowing that there will always be something perfect out there that I didn't choose. I loved my wedding dress. If given an infinite amount of time, could I have found a better one? Maybe. But I only had about 2 weeks to make a decision. Wedding dresses need to be ordered quite far in advance.

Putting all of your time, energy, and money into finding that perfect something is draining. You're better off just being satisfied with a good choice instead of seeking out something that may not exist. This also goes back to "time is money" and I'm willing to pay for convenience and just suck it up once in awhile.

So, a maximizer devotes a great deal of time and energy to making perfect choices.  A satisficer just really likes to get things done.  I used to be a maximizer.  I grew up with maximizer parents so I naturally became one too.  There's nothing wrong with being a maximizer.  It's just tiring. Buying a car would take months. Buying a desktop computer back in 1997 took years.  I just naturally took on those maximizer characteristics and brought that into my marriage. I wanted to find the perfect towels, the perfect rug, the perfect pillows. And then I noticed I would always see something I liked more somewhere else when I wasn't looking for it.  Better pillows at Homegoods after I'd JUST bought them at Target, the perfect rug at a friend's house, etc.

Scott is a satisficer. After a few years of marriage, he has turned me into one too. I can't say when this happened exactly, but it was probably when we moved to Missouri and walked into a Toyota dealership in Kansas City and walked out with a new truck 3 hours later.

Scott is a satisficer to the umpteenth degree.  He knows how to fix things, solve problems, and get things done as quickly as possible.  Remodeling this house has been the biggest lesson in how important it is to just get over myself and be a satisficer.

I learned that when in Lowe's and Scott asks me what carpeting I like, I should just pick one because that means he's willing to replace the bedroom carpet, like today, and I want a new carpet and anything would be better than the carpet that is already there.

When Scott says, "Hey, let's go pick out countertops today", I don't hem and haw around about it.  I show him what I like, he shows me what he likes, and we make a decision.  Because I wanted new countertops in an almost desperate kinda way.

Therefore, a few weeks ago, we started talking about what projects I (Kristin) would like to accomplish on the house over the next month.  I said my priority was the guest bedroom floor because I use the guest bedroom (previously known as the unicorn room) as an office space and a Pilates space and I really, really can't deal with the carpet anymore and we have the laminate already bought and waiting to be installed.

He said he'd rather do the tile on the entryway floor first because that's what people see when they walk into the house.

Any cosmetic change to this house is, in my opinion, a necessary one, so I wasn't going to deter him.

The day after he returned from his deployment we went to Lowe's and he told me to pick out a tile.  He was silently offering to dedicate the weekend to laying and grouting tile (with my help, of course) and I was not going to let this opportunity escape.  I'd never even glanced at tile before.  But I walked up and down the aisle at Lowe's at 8am on a Saturday and picked out one I liked.  He liked it too.  We bought it.  We had glass/ceramic accent tile (backsplash material) already at home so we matched them up as closely as possible.  We chose a gray porcelain and I absolutely adore it. It will go in both bathrooms too.

By Saturday afternoon, the tile had been laid and then we grouted it on Sunday night.

This is a terrible picture.  Better ones to follow.

Often times, people really seem to question my decision to live way out here, in this house that needed so much work.  Co-workers, friends, family...I get the side-eye a lot when I mention where we live and how much land we have, etc. I usually explain it by saying that we lived in urban developments for 5 years and Scott wanted land and you can't find land in town and we're remodeling the house and it's nice and quiet out there.  That's all completely true, but the real reason I'm okay with all this is because Scott is 100% a satisficer.  But that would take a lot longer to explain and I'd probably get some weird looks.

You probably see this question coming, but....are you a maximizer or a satisficer?


  1. I am a TOTAL satisficer. Maximizers absolutely exhaust me. I think that's why I hate shopping so much is because I just prefer to walk in, grab what I need and get the heck out. J and I make very quick decisions often.

  2. This is so helpful. I have a really good friend who is a maximizer and this really helps me understand her. She's a brand new mom and just bought a house so you can imagine the amount of decisions she's making right now. I'm more of a quick decision-maker.

  3. I'm a satisficer. I find maximizing and maximizers exhausting.

  4. I do both, but I tend to be more of a maximizer and sometimes have to force myself just make a decision already!!

  5. I think.......I might be both?! My natural tendency is probably to be a maximizer (sorry) but I end up annoying myself with it eventually. With some things I'm more of a satisficer - such as when I deem my time more valuable than the choice I'm making! - but in general it does make me a bit anxious to not have all the facts at my fingertips before I make a decision. I'd never really thought about it in these terms before so this is interesting!

  6. I am a total satisficer! Always have been.

  7. well i liked reading the explanation :)
    i am definitely a bit of both. i remember when we were registering i literally spent months researching the best cookware, towels, whatever. and it's exhausting and i really didn't get out of it what i put in. when we plan travel, that's different, because i get out of it what i get in. but towels? eh. KC is a bit of both as well. he thinks about things to himself and then brings them up to me, and sometimes i just say sure whatever, because i trust his judgement.

  8. I would say I'm a satisficer. I think I can be a maximized about certain or specific things, but it's not my overall trait. Usually, my biggest concern that has me waiting is not that something more perfect might come along, but that there is a better deal...or should we be adding that to our budget....

  9. I am 100% a satisficer. I think Isaiah is 95% a maximizer. Which drives me absolutely nuts most of the time...as you can imagine.

  10. I live with a maximizer 100% hence why our condo isn't on the market yet because Keith has yet to find any, in his opinion, decent houses to move to. I wish I could get things done faster like Scott does for you guys because sometimes you have to have that push!

  11. I am 100% a satisficer. I can make decisions very quickly, and sometimes on a whim, and almost never regret anything. I go to a store, buy what I want, and leave. It's so nice. My husband, though, is a maximizer, and he seems to be the one who runs things. Every decision requires careful thinking, lots and lots of thinking, and even when he purchases something, he will regret that decision. He's known to return items and buy the other item he had previously decided not to get. It drives me crazy sometimes, I just say, make a decision! I try to be patient with him, but the hemming and hawing and the pessimistic outlook on decisions is exhausting...

    But hey! Love the tile!!

  12. Craig is a maximizer times 1009. I am not. But I do see us both givig I to the other person depending on what it is. I let him research all the electronic goodies he wants (which is why we didn't get a flat TV until last December. But ts also how we only pay $56 for both our unlimited everything smartphone.) And he lets me boom vacations on a whim :)


Comments make my day!