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kybryl2's picture Karen Bryla McNees, EdD, RD
Registered Dietitian
College or Department
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Have you ever found yourself overwhelmed by everyday decision-making? Next time that happens, try "satisficing." Coined by Herbert Simon in 1956, the word "satisfice" combines the words satisfy and suffice. This mental hack is a decision-making strategy that aims for a satisfactory or adequate result, rather than an optimal solution. In other words, your "good enough" choices for getting things done.

Why would I want to satisfice?

Aiming for the optimal result on every single decision, called maximizing, can be exhausting and waste precious time and energy. More effort spent doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get a better result — there can be diminishing returns on effort. "Maximizers" live in constant fear of missing out and actually tend to be less satisfied with their decisions. Interestingly, people who satisfice are actually happier with the outcomes of their decisions. 

How do I satisfice?

Think about a mundane trip to the grocery store. You could easily spend hours in the cereal, bread, or yogurt aisles trying to make the best possible decision about what to buy. Sure, it's nice to have options, but having all those choices just increases our anxiety about making the best choice. If we do spend lots of time trying to make a careful choice, we are still likely to second guess ourselves later and think "I could have made a better choice." So, how can we use a satisficing mentality to help us make a choice, be okay with it, and move on to more important things in life? Follow these four steps:

  1. Set requirements — decide what you’ll need to be satisfied and how much time and effort you’ll put in upfront

  2. Search for an option that meets those requirements
  3. Stop searching when you find a "good enough" option — the satisfice
  4. Enjoy the savings of time and effort you just made, and don’t look back!

As they say, "done is better than perfect!" 

You can learn more about embracing "good enough" choices in this 8.5-minute video. If you want to see some of the ways UK HR Health and Wellness can support your nutritional goals, visit the EatWell page here.