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.” 






Roadtrip Blog

Read about our adventures

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?