The Maximizer Quiz

What is your decision-making style? Are you what’s called a maximizer or a satisficer? Answer these few questions YES or NO:

Items from the Maximization Scale
(These are 7 of 13 total questions on the Maximization Scale by Schwartz et al., 2002 – reference is in the comment section)

1) When I watch TV, I channel surf, often scanning through the
available options even while attempting to watch one

2) When I am in the car listening to the radio, I often check other
stations to see if something better is playing, even if I’m
relatively satisfied with what I’m listening to.

3) No matter how satisfied I am with my job, it’s only right for
me to be on the lookout for better opportunities.

4) I often find it difficult to shop for a gift for a friend.

5) When shopping, I have a hard time finding clothing that I
really love.

6) No matter what I do, I have the highest standards for myself.

7) I never settle for second best.

Are YOU a Maximizer?

Now count up how many Yes’s you have. If you have 6 or 7 Yes’s, you are likely to be a maximizer. If you have 1 or 2 Yes’s, you are likely to be a satisficer. In between, you have some maximizer tendencies.

Maximizers look for the one best version of something – the best meal at a restaurant, the perfect movie night, the best school, the best gift, etc. Satisficers look for something that is good enough to meet their general criteria: a good meal, a good gift, etc. Here’s the problem with being a maximizer during the holidays. It can lead to the following says Barry Schwartz, author of the super-successful Paradox of Choice: Why Less is More. Maximizing behavior can lead to:

  • Stress
  • Decision Paralysis (“analysis paralysis”)
  • Regret

If You Want to Stop Being a Mazimizer

If you want to stop being a maximizer, you can take specific steps to create what I call “GOOD Constraints” and to limit your actions in certain areas. For example, shopping a large part of the day? Going store to store? Putting pressure on yourself to find a really good gift? Try these three actions:
presents and happiness

  • Give yourself ___ time to make the decision – 20 seconds, 5 minutes, 2 days – limit yourself. Specifically, giving yourself three hours to get all your presents may be plenty.
  • Know that “almost good enough” is good enough. (This is a major Barry Schwartz thought). Specifically, going to one store may be plenty.
  • Once you make the decision, look only at the benefits of that decision to avoid buyer’s remorse. Specifically, if you see a different sweater for your sister and you’ve already bought one, you don’t need to examine the new sweater.

If you want to read more about maximizing, please enjoy these articles on PPND:

Finally, here is a wonderful video on Choice on Australian Broadcasting Corporation (click the “Windows Media” or “Real Player” links at the top) . Barry Schwartz is featured in this video and so is the above “former maximizer”! Great video that explains this so well.

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p.s. The Story: I wrote all this up because I had a great time being on Live with Lisa Radio today, and telling Lisa about these techniques and also about the story of Barry Schwartz and his students. Barry started studyng maximizing and satisficing because he was finding that college students graduating from Swarthmore were taking jobs at Starbucks.
Schwartz –> students –> Starbucks.
After speaking informally with some students, Barry learned that they felt they had so many options (banking, consulting, start-ups) that they weren’t sure what the BEST option was, and they were delaying deciding by taking a job at Starbucks.

My brother is so cool! He has done some research on music and the stock market: specifically does the volatility in the stock market react to beat-variance? Beat-variance is how much the beat in a specific song varies – are there slow parts and then fast part and differently paced parts?

He has made the most amazing music video ever:

I watched this ten times in a row. My two favorite videos on YouTube now are this Music and the Market and the Evolution of Dance. Enjoy!

Phil Maymin is a finance professor at NYU, and here is what SmartMoney had to say about this research:

Phil Maymin, an assistant professor of finance and risk engineering at the Polytechnic Institute of New York University, has crunched 50 years worth of stock-market data — along with more than 5,000 hit songs. And he says he’s found an inverse correlation between stock-market volatility and whether the hot music of the moment is frenetic or steady.

… What’s more, Maymin says that it appears as if musical tastes can predict future market volatility. A strategy based on predicting market volatility from past beat variance appears profitable, on average. “The model predicts that realized volatility next year will be lower than it was this year,” he says. Read more here.

I’ve studied the research behind intuition a bit, and there’s one main idea abut having intuition HELP you and be on your side – get to it early!

Step 0) Be open to intuition.
Step 1) Prepare for events early.

You’re open to intuition when you listen to the thoughts in your head – very simple. This has to do with D-level thinking, but we’ll get to specifics another day. Assume now – as a metaphor – that there is a constant musical drone inside your head. That musical base continues no matter whether you listen to classical music, sing along with Ella Fitzgerald, or bounce around to 80’s Madonna tunes. That musical base continues no matter whether you’re eating dinner with a friend, writing a blog post, or reading a non-fiction book.

What is this musical base? That’s a thought at the level of subconsciousness. That’s a thought that you may have accessed before and may access again. This isn’t a scientific description – it’s just an image.

Like the underlying current below the waves.

That’s your intuition.

One way that many researchers say that intuition works is by continuing to work even while you’re not consciously accessing it.

For example, I need to prepare for a coaching session tomorrow. What’s the best way to do that to put my intuition into the game?

Simple. I prepare early and often. I can do step #0 – being open to intuition – just by paying attention to new ideas that may seem to come out of the blue.

Much more importantly, I can do step #1 – prepare for events early – in order to give that subcurrent, that musical base TIME after I do my conscious preparations, and it’s in that time that new subconscious ideas can most grow.

So how do I prepare for tomorrow’s coaching session?
* Write up notes today
* Print out relevant assessments and techniques today
* Prepare all the materials that I may need today

And then tonight I can look everything over again. And tomorrow morning, I can look everything over again.

Happy preparing. And happy enjoying of the underlying currents working FOR you.

Here it is: 2:22am.

Way past the time that I ever recommend to anyone to go to bed. Way past the time when all decent coaches and all decent clients should be sleeping.

And I am so thrilled!

I’m about to move, and haven’t been able to find a place, but just now, a short hour or more ago, my deposit was fabulously dropped off for me, and I move in pretty soon. I asked what the place was like: “It’s so cute. It’s the quintessential little bungalow home.” So – after weeks and weeks of not finding great places online, and after days of seeing that I’m not exactly sure where I’m moving to other than a general town – there we have it.

Serendipity is so unpredictable!
Life is good.

Posted in All

* From Bridget’s article today about “Freedom and Happiness” on PPND, I learned that a great source of new articles can come from emailing new research papers to current authors, and that is something I can do! Getting info to folks who are looking for that info anyway.

* From Alan Beggs and the Human Dimension company in the UK that trains in positive psychology related concepts to corporations (i.e. the corporate athlete), I learned 1) brevity, and 2) return on investment. And really to start each positive psychology exercise in the workplace with a sole focus on ROI.

Dalai LamaTibetan chuba dressI went to see the Dalai Lama on July 17, 2008 at Radio City Music Hall in NY. It was completely packed, and the room has 5,933 seats. It seemed that about one third to half of the women, men, and children in the audience were dressed in Tibetan formal wear – beautiful attire in exquisite print.

I was sitting in a good seat, part-way to the front, and as soon as the Dalai Lama let us know that that he would be answering some audience questions, I thought that since I had read most of his book on happiness, I would love to hear his impromptu thoughts on what makes him happiest. So I wrote on a piece of paper a question in large capital letters and gave it to a man collecting questions near our aisle.

Dalai Lama happiness questionThen many, many pieces of paper were brought to the translator’s desk on the stage. I don’t know how many from about 6,000 people. It looked like a lot of pieces of paper, and I absolutely didn’t think my question would be answered, but eventually after the first two questions – one of which included a detailed answer to ‘who are the protesters outside the event?’ – my question did come up. It was the third question out of four, and it was really delightful to hear the Dalai Lama’s answer.

Here is the question: “What makes you happiest? What makes you the most happy?”

The Dalai Lama’s answer was first a joke along the lines of “I don’t know.” And then he answered: “People make me happiest.” He pointed to the audience and to himself, and said that he thinks this kind of interaction – people speaking to each other – makes him happiest. He said it is “only ‘I,’ not ‘we-them,’” implying that everyone – himself and the audience – are part of the same “I.”

Then he ran through several additional things that make him happiest:

• Sleep – He actually stayed on this topic for a few minutes, describing how he goes to bed around 7pm every evening, and wakes up at 3:30am to be able to meditate before a 5:30am breakfast. He even joked about how his brother makes fun of him for such an early wake-up.

• No dinner after lunch – The Dalai Lama was quite firm about how he enjoys not eating in the evening after the mid-day meal. He said, “It’s good. I don’t get fat like man who looks like woman with baby [pregnant woman].” He mentioned that he always feels very hungry when it is time to eat.

• Vegetarian preference – Finally, the Dalai Lama mentioned that he prefers a vegetarian diet, and that he was vegetarian in 1965 for 20 months, and that he is now mainly vegetarian.