Satisficer or maximizer?

When it comes to making decisions, are you a satisficer or a maximizer?

A satisficer makes a decision once they find an option that meets their criteria. This doesn’t mean they have low standards, it just means they are quick to take action once they find what they are looking for. For example, if a satisficer wanted a new, navy blue suitcase under $100, with wheels, once they find a suitcase that fits that criteria, they will make the purchase. A satisficer isn’t worried that they will end up finding something better later on – if a choice fits their criteria, they decide and move on.

On the other hand, a maximizer wants to know they have picked the best option available, and they do this by considering all possible alternatives. So, if a maximizer wanted a new suitcase, they wouldn’t make a purchase until they had scoured eight different stores, browsed online for suitcases, and asked several friend’s opinions on the best suitcase to buy.

Turns out, maximizers are usually less happy at the end of the day with their choices.  Maximizers turn every decision into a pyschologically daunting task (I’m not just buying a suitcase, I have to buy the best suitcase ever), which adds lots of stress and anxiety to the decision making process. And, all of the mental turmoil usually ends up taking some joy out of the final result.

People can be satisficers or maximizers in different areas of their lives – picking a volunteer position to commit to, buying new shoes, choosing an item off the menu, deciding on a movie to watch, deciding what dream to pursue…

When it comes to exploring a potential dream, are you a maximizer or a satisficer? Do you spend a lot of time trying to pick the absolute best internship to apply to, the perfect volunteer trip to take, or “the right”  class to sign up for? Are you worried if you make a decision, you’ll miss out on a “better dream?”

If you’re unsure about your path in life, and trying to “maximize” your dream exploration- relax! Take a satisficer approach to exploring potential passions and test runs.

Come up with a list of criteria for your test run, see if one of your options meets the criteria, make a decision and move on. Action, not rumination, will led you to your dream.

For more on satisficers and maximizers, read Barry Schwartz’s book, The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less.


7 quick tips to stay on track and make it happen.

Can you believe January is almost over?! With one month down out of 2014, now is a great time to assess the progress you’ve made towards your goals for this year. If you’re not quite where you want to be, try these seven quick tips to help you stay on track and make it happen this year.

1.) Begin with the end in mind. What do you want? Why do you want it? What does the peak of success look like to you? What are you doing, wearing, feeling, or creating at your most successful? Where are you? What, specifically, have you achieved? Once you have this vision, write it down and post it somewhere you see everyday. A constant reminder of your big goal will help you stay on track as time passes.

2.) Create the roadmap. Once you know what you want, work backwards to break down your big goal into smaller milestones. Use the Internet to research specific steps, if you’re unsure about the path.

3.) Detail the roadmap. Now that you’ve got your roadmap of small milestones that will lead you to success, break these down to even smaller, more manageable goals.

  • What do you need to do each month to accomplish your milestones, and ultimately your end vision of success?
  • What about this month?
  • What about each week this month?
  • What about today?

 4.) Plot it out. Take some time at the end or beginning of each week to plot out exactly what you want to accomplish, when you’re going to do it, and approximately how much time it will take. This might seem over the top, but twenty minutes of planning on Sunday night can set you up for success all week. As Ben Franklin said: “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”

4.) Make it public. Share your goal with trusted friends, family or mentors so you have other people check in on you, hold you accountable, and rally you on when you’re feeling overwhelmed.

5.) Plan for the midway motivation drop. As time passes, initial enthusiasm for a project or change usually starts to wane. Set yourself up for success by expecting and planning for that mid-way motivation dropout. Look at your calendar and schedule in some fun rewards, to help boost motivation when progress slows down.

6.) Examine the past. If you’ve tried to make a change before and it bottomed out, go back over old mistakes. Ask yourself:

  • What were the turning points when I gave up before? (missed a deadline, let a few days of missed work turn into a few weeks…)
  • How can I avoid these turning points this time around? Or change my reaction?
  • What habits/routines do I need to change? (get a buddy, use free time after dinner instead of trying to wake up early, download Freedom so I don’t get distracted by the Internet…)
  • What can I do to set myself up for success? (post my goal somewhere I see it everyday, review and chart my progress at the end of every week, plan a weekly reward to motivate myself…)

7.) Get a mantra. What words of wisdom give you an extra push? Some of my favorite include, Karen Lamb: “A year from now you will wish you had started today,” and Eleanor Roosevelt: “You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” When you want to throw in the towel, remind yourself of your mantra – and then get going!

What’s your “why?” A different take on New Year’s resolutions.

What’s your why?

One of my favorite quotes is “If you have a why, then any how is possible.”

Meaning, if you are emotionally attached to achieving your goal, if you want this goal bad enough, if this goal is important to you on many different levels, then you will figure out how to make it happen.

If your “why” is compelling enough, you can endure the challenges that crop up on the road to success.

Now that we’re mid-way through January, it’s a great time to look at your New Year’s resolutions and ask a few questions: Why do you want to achieve this goal so badly? What would achieving your goal mean? How would the attainment of this goal change your life and future?  If you make this dream come true, what would happen that you really, really want?

A lot of us (especially me!) get stuck up on how we’re going to achieve our goals.  We make to-do lists, create charts to track our progress, and set alarms to wake up at 5 a.m to hit the gym or write the novel or work on the web design business.

But, over time, that initial motivation can start to flag. You get tired. You don’t see the results you want. You don’t see the results as fast as you want. You miss lazy Sundays. You miss weeknights without extra work. You can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel and it just feels like you’re slogging up a huge mountain.

This is when your “why” comes in to play. This is when your “why” becomes crucial.  Your “why” will make the difficulty of “how” possible.

“Why am I awake at 6 a.m. staring at this script again?”

Why? Because have a story I have to tell, I want to breathe life into my characters, and I want to break into the film industry.

“Why am I training for a marathon in the rain after work when I want to be watching TV?”

Why? Because I want to cross off this off my bucket list, I want to build endurance and strength beyond what I thought was possible, and I want to finish this race with a smile.

“Why am I going to class for three hours after work?”

Why? Because I want to earn my MBA without going into debt, I want to start my own business, and I want to revolutionize my industry.


Your “whys” are the antidotes for slow, labored progress. Your “whys” are reminders for when the going gets tough, boring, overwhelming, challenging or just too hard.  Your “whys” make it easier to open the laptop, get to the gym, or head to class.

Try something different this year. Figure out your “why” so you can make your “how” happen.

Take Action: What’s one of your goals this year? Why do you want to achieve this goal so badly? Make a list of reasons. Then, ask yourself: Do you feel strongly attached to your “whys?” Do they stir you to action? Would they motivate you, even if you were exhausted or totally overwhelmed? If not, maybe it’s time to rethink your goal or dig a little deeper into your motivations.

If your “whys” sets you fire: post your list somewhere you will see it everyday.

Tweet: Want to make it happen this year? Figure out “why,” then make a plan for “how.” 






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How to Discover Your Dream: The Media Inspirations Exercise


Your favorites in books, TV shows, movies, and Internet sites can point the way to your dream. What themes or topics do you keep coming back to? Why? What common interests do your media choices reveal? What characters do you admire- and how do you want to be like them?

To help you discover your dream, answer the following questions about your media inspirations:

  1. Who are some of your favorite fictional (book or film) heroes or heroines? What do you admire the most about them?
  2. What are you favorite books, TV shows, and movies? What do they have in common? (For example: strong female lead as the character, focus on the law, complex relationships?)
  3. Does a particular genre interest you?
  4. What websites do you love to visit during your free time? What do they have in common?
  5. What type of information do you find yourself looking up a lot?
  6. What do the above answers teach you about yourself or your dream?


Resources for Writers: The Best Tips, Tricks, Books + Links


I wanted to compile a list of some of my favorite resources and tips for writers. Enjoy, and please leave comments with your own helpful tips, tricks, books and links for writers!

Top Tips:

1.) Set a daily word count. Start slow and build yourself up. Stephen King recommends 2,000 words a day, and you can speed-write 500 words in 15-30 minutes if you focus. Pick a number and start meeting it.

2.) Now that you have a daily word count, create a log where to track your word count/time you worked for the day. I use a GoogleDoc for this. Or, print out a log and post it above your workspace.

3.) Get a goal. What do you want to write? Start writing it and don’t stop until it’s done. Do not stop until it is done.  Once you meet your original goal you can move on to the next project. This is especially helpful if you have a million ideas for stories popping into your head.

3.) Write every day. If you can’t make your desired word count for the day, write 500 words. Even if your schedule is truly packed, anyone can squeeze in 500 words or 15-20 minutes of editing right before bed.

4.) Read every day. Nothing makes me want to write more than reading a good book.

6.) Set your own deadline. Maybe it’s to finish a novel in two months, re-write a poem by the end of the day or submit a short story to a magazine by the end of May. Whatever your deadline is, make it, tell people about it and stick to it! Deadlines and peer pressure work.

7.) The more you write, the better you write. The more you practice, the better a writer you will become.

9.) Don’t worry about the outcome. Take your mind off the end result and focus on having fun with the process.

10.) Stick with it! It can be really hard when what comes out on the page doesn’t sound or look the way you envisioned. Keep going. Re-write, re-write, re-write. Edit, edit, edit. If you keep plugging away at it, the work will get better. And, if you work long enough and hard enough you might even wind up with a piece of work you love.

Indispensible Writing Books:

The Right to Write by Julia Cameron (friendly, inspiring, practical)

The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron (every creative person needs this book)

On Writing by Stephen King (buy this book now!)

Build Your Dreams: How to Make a Living Doing What You Love by Chip + Alexis (shameless self-promotion, but packed with practical tips!)

Online Sources: – find your agent! (6 years of questions answered about publishing, finding an agent, selling a book, writing a book, etc.) – National Novel Writing month is in November. Sign up for the challenge of writing a 50,000 word novel in 30 days + helpful tips, forums and more

Resolution for a Routine worksheet – a worksheet by The Braid Creative to help you create a routine for your creative practices

7 Great Ways to Build Your Writing Routine – practical tips from – published and established authors helping out other writers and offering advice on forum discussion boards – helpful information on writing proposals and more

Glimmer Train – publication for new writers + monthly email bulletins with “essays by creative-writing teachers and other published authors on craft, perspective, and the particulars of writing and getting published”


“Your Elusive Creative Genius” – a 20 minute TEDTalk by Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love

Write Like a Motherf@#$er – a kick in the pants from the advice column Dear Sugar, by Cheryl Strayed

Disover Your Dream: The Bucket List Exercise


To help you discover your dream, you are going to create a bucket list. A bucket list is a list of things you want to do before you die. When you create your list, don’t censor yourself. Now is the time to get creative, and let your imagination run wild with every weird, wild, or wonderful thing you want to accomplish or experience with the time you’ve been given.

Now, get a blank piece of paper and a pen, set a timer for ten minutes, and create your bucket list. List as many items as you want.

Once your time is up, reflect on your bucket list and what it could mean about your potential passions by answering the following questions:

  1. Do any of your items have a common theme? (For example: adventure, entpreneurship, working with others)
  2. What personality traits do your bucket list items exhibit? (For example: charitable, ambitous, creative..) What are some career paths that also exemplify these traits? (For example, career paths that exemplify charity include a social worker, nonprofit founder, or grant writer)
  3. Are there any bucket list items that directly point to potential jobs you would like to have? If so, which is your favorite one?
  4. Out of the items on your list, what experiences could lead to potential jobs? (Think outside the box here. If 2/3 of the items on your list involve traveling and history, have you considered becoming a tour guide in a historic location, opening a travel agency, writing a non-fiction book about Italy or South Africa, becoming a history teacher in another country, or seeking a job at a museum?)
  5. If you had to pick the 6 items from your list you most want to accomplish or experience, what are they?
  6. What is one small action you can take today to start exploring or accomplishing one of the items on your bucket list?
  7. What are five mini-goals you can do this month to start exploring or accomplishing some of the items on your bucket list?

Discover Your Dream: The Obituary Exercise


Exercise: To help you discover your dream, you are going to write your own obituary. In this obituary, you are going to be imaging your dream life. Be sure to include:

  • What did you accomplish with your life? Get specific.
  • How did you gave back to those around you?
  • How will you be remembered? How do your loved ones, friends or fellow professionals remember you? How does the world remember you?
  • Where did you live? Where did you travel?
  • Did you do anything really fun, adventurous, exciting, or cool?
  • What is the lesson people will learn from your life? (i.e. dream big, give back, always keep learning…)

Now, set a timer for fifteen minutes and write your obituary, as fast as you can.

Once your time is up, reflect back on your obituary by answering the following questions:

  1. Out of the accomplishments you listed, which one do you want to work on first? Go with your gut answer.
  2. Are there any common themes in the accomplishments you listed? (For example: animals, working outside, the arts…)
  3. What can you do today to start working towards the goals in your obituary? Pick something small and easy as your first step. (For example if one of the accomplishments in your obituary was ending homelessness in the U.S., can you find a homeless shelter in your area to volunteer at sometime this week or weekend?)
  4. What are 5 mini-goals you can set for this month to get you closer to the accomplishments you wrote about in your obituary or explore them further?

How to Write a Business Plan




The best way to learn the language and structure of business plans is to look at real-life examples. Some great resources to check out are:

  • And at the bottom of the post we’ve listed some sample plans.

This is a list of elements most business plans should include, but be sure to research the specific requirements of your industry.

                                                  Elements of a Business Plan:

  1. Cover page: Business name and contact information.
  2. Table of contents: Lists all the sections of the plan and page numbers.
  3. Executive summary: One-page overview that summarizes the whole report.
  4. Business description: How your business satisfies a need.
  5. Business environment analysis: What is the outlook for the industry you are getting into? Why is it a good time to start this type of business?
  6. Industry background: your experience in the industry or other qualifications.
  7. Competitor analysis: Prove that there is a market for this product or service by listing competitors who have had success in the field. Then, point out competitors’ weaknesses and how you plan to be better than them.
  8. Target market: Describe which demographic will want your product. For example, new parents living in the suburbs.
  9. Marketing plan: Describe how you plan to reach your target audience. For example, Internet advertising, phone calls and email, billboards, commercials, or magazine ads.
  10. Management summary: Who is in charge, why are they qualified, and what is their vision for the business?
  11. Operations plan: Describe the process of creating your product from start to finish. Where and how will you produce your product/service? How will you assure quality? What raw materials do you need? Who will be your suppliers?
  12. Financial plan: Describe your plans to get funding, what expenses you are expecting, and how you will generate revenue over time.
  13. Attachments and milestones: Include any other relevant information, achievements, or awards.

Here are some more industry-specific sample business plans to check out:

*if you don’t see your business idea on this list, check out

Spring Cleaning Challenge: Clean to Make Space for Your Dream

Clutter is anything you don’t need, use on regular basis, or actually want in your living space. Clutter can be duplicates of things you already own, gifts from people you love but never use, or a sweater you haven’t worn in two years.

Physical clutter creates mental clutter – and both hold us back and distract us from pursuing our dreams. After all, it’s hard to move forward or concentrate on new goals when our environment is out of control, disordered or filled with the past.

  • Some clutter has negative energy to it. This kind of clutter includes stuff you have held on to that reminds you of an unhappy time – a box full of photos of friends you no longer speak to, the old textbook from a class you failed on your bookshelf, or the pair of khakis from the waitressing job you hated that hang out in your bottom dresser drawer.
  • Other clutter holds us hostage to the past. What reminders of the old you are you holding onto for nostalgic reasons? Old trinkets, stuffed animals, or the drying flowers from your prom corsage?
  • All clutter is discouraging and overwhelming. We cannot make progress when our lives feel swamped with stuff.

This week, take our spring-cleaning challenge: get rid of 25 items from your living space. Why? By getting rid of some stuff you will make mental, emotional and physical space for a new you.

What can you get rid of?

Donate, sell online (depending on the condition) or gift to a willing recipient:

  • Clothes, shoes, or accessories you haven’t worn in a year
  • Luggage, backpacks, or purses that haven’t seen the light of day in months
  • Books you won’t re-read or movies you don’t love
  • Kitchen clutter – glasses you don’t use, extraneous pots or pans, random silverware that wound up in your drawer
  • Old supplies from a long-gone hobby -that ice cream maker you used once, your old field hockey stick, a manual on animation
  • Extra storage bins, shoe racks, hangers, etc.
  • Furniture you don’t like or don’t really need
  • Linens, kitchen towels, oven mitts, potholders, bathroom towels, beach towels or washcloths.
  • Duplicates of anything – do you really three muffin tins, twenty bath towels, or seven black t-shirts?
  • Old eyeglasses. The Lion’s Club has drop boxes for old glasses, or you can mail them off to a Club. Learn more here:
  • Old cell phones and chargers. Donate your old cell phone to Operation Gratitude, which sends cell phones to the troops. Learn more here:

Toss or recycle:

  • Tech gear that doesn’t work or is incompatible with your current equipment (broken ear buds, anyone?)
  • Documents. What receipts, papers, memos, old schoolwork, programs, newsletters, newspapers or magazines are you holding onto that you don’t really need any more? (Be sure to shred anything sensitive).
  • Anything that is ripped, stained, broken, or can’t be re-used.
  • Old batteries. Find a place to recycle here:

If you’re feeling bold, try getting rid of some nostalgic clutter:

  • Gifts you hate from people you love – ugly trinkets, clothing, artwork, books, movies, gadgets, or shoes that are not your style.
  • Old photos, cards, posters, ticket stubs, programs, or mementos. Pick a set amount to save, like a shoebox or three photo albums, and consider recycling the less meaningful stuff.
  • Stuffed animals
  • Old uniforms
  • Old awards, trophies or medals
  • Guilt-ridden, “aspirational” items – The copy of War and Peace you tried to read four times, the padded bike shorts you only wore once, a calligraphy set to make hand-made thank you cards…if anything makes you feel bad, or reminds you of an long-gone goal, say goodbye!
  • Items that represent the old you

Enjoy your cleaned-up physical and mental space for the upcoming summer, and if you feel motivated keep going after 25 items!

(photo credit)

Alexis’s Top 5 Procrastination Busters

Since dreams require lots of time and energy (on top of your day gig, home, family and social responsibilities) it can be really easy to put off dream work for something a little  more relaxing, like watching television, online shopping, reading a magazine, playing a video game, organizing your closet…you name it. Since I struggle […]

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