Monday, August 13, 2007

Going for Good Enough

Web Worker Daily wrote about satisficing today, and I wanted to join that conversation. While the term has been around a while, I first heard of it when I read The Paradox of Choice. Author Barry Schwartz explains it this way:
To satisfice is to settle for something that is good enough and not worry about the possibility that there might be something better. A satisficer has criteria and standards. She searches until she finds an item that meets those standards, and at that point, she stops.

As a recovering perfectionist, this is a concept that really resonates with me. It's easy to move beyond this shopping-based example and look at other places where satisficing might be a good approach.

Postcard writing: I still send postcards when I travel, and it was a real breakthrough when I realized that people were glad to hear from me no matter what I wrote, and each card did not need to be a literary masterpiece.

House cleaning: I don't have children - but I have cats and a busy life. I'm never going to have a perfectly clean house - I've figured out what's "good enough" for me, and I stop there.

Vacation planning: I tend to go to whatever place strikes my fancy and meets my criteria for weather, sights, etc. I don't worry about whether there may have been another place I'd enjoy even more.

Blogging: I just had this discussion with another blogger today. When do you stop fine-tuning a blog post and say, "This is good enough"?

And on that note, I think I'm done for tonight!

Related post: The 6 Styles of Procrastination


Cynthia Friedlob said...

I like your term, "recovering perfectionist!" I suffer from the same debilitating condition and it still often prevents me from tackling simple chores in a timely fashion.

Today I'm dealing with too much to do, too little time, and I believe I could resolve much of the problem by embracing "satisficing."

I recently had a conversation with a friend whose home is less organized than she would prefer. She mentioned the phenomenon of looking at myriad uncluttering tasks, then, rather than addressing any of them, choosing to clean her kitchen thoroughly, as if it were going to be used as an operating room. I'll suggest a little satisficing to her, too.

I will also now stop editing this comment!

Jeri Dansky said...

Cynthia, thanks for your comment.

It took a long time for me to realize that my perfectionism - which I had considered a Good Thing - was actually not so good in many cases.

Sometime I'll blog about my old perfectionist tendencies, and my own "ah ha!" moment.

Ariane Benefit, Neat & Simple Living said...

I love it! Satisficing!

Funny how us "recovering perfectionists" have to think about things like it's okay if the cards we send aren't literary masterpieces. I suffer from that too! especially with birthday and xmas cards, but I've gotten much better...and I've cut way back on the number I send in the first place!

Here's to Good Enough! : )

Lee said...

I loved this post. My husband ran across the terms and explanations for satisficer and maximiser (sp?) when reading a car magazine. He came running and said "I finally understand you". We had been married 30+ years then. I'm working on being a satisficer, or as another article said, doing "C" quality work when the job doesn't need "A" quality work.

Jeri Dansky said...

Lee, that's a great story; thanks so much for sharing.