A life you love: building a satisficing lifestyle
I recently stumbled upon a new term in decision-making: “satisfice”. That place where “enough” or “suffice” meets “satisfy”. I realised that for me, 2020 changed all my priorities and values.
It made me return to what was truly important to me: personal freedom, inner wisdom, laughter, mastery, and empowerment. Because what is life without a career, relationships, and personal time and space genuinely reflect my values.
As I look around the world, reading about the great resignation taking place as employees say “enough” and “I want a lifestyle that protects what is truly important to me”, I realise that we are all striving for a satisficing lifestyle.
We want that bliss point of having a life we love. It’s not enough to have a great career if you have to sacrifice health or family. Yet, none of us wants to sacrifice our professional growth to focus on family.
How do we make decisions using this concept of satisficing?
Satisficing is a decision-making strategy that aims for a satisfactory or adequate result, rather than the optimal solution. (Jake Frankenfield)
Satisficing contrasts with maximising — where you aim to maximise all of the benefits. Of course, often, we fail to make decisions when we can get the best of everything we want. Worse yet, we find ourselves with no solution in sight that meets all of our expectations. That’s because we are trying to get optimal results on all bases rather than find a solution that meets all our criteria yet may not maximise them all.
For example — we might choose a job that is “our dream job” with the ideal salary range but requires that we move away from family and friends and work long hours that impacts our health. So, on the one hand, we’ve maximised the benefits or outcomes in our career — but at what cost?
On the other hand, a satisficing choice might not be the highest salary or the dream job but fulfils the dreams of our career’s direction without sacrificing our relationships or health.
In business terms, this may be frowned upon. From Investopedia, we get this summary:
As a coach, I can’t entirely agree with this last point. I believe that in coaching, it is possible to get a definition (generative wisdom that will change over time) of a satisfactory or acceptable outcome.
What criteria should we use?
I want to use two criteria:
- The outcome must align with my client’s values;
- The client needs to reach a place of inner alignment — between their head (thoughts, planning & analysis), heart (desires, emotions, relationships and what is truly important to them), and gut (boundaries, safety and security, identity and motivation or movement).
This second criterion is based on mBraining — the idea that three intelligence centres play a valid role in decision-making. There are, currently, many articles about heart-led leadership and gut instinct and “The Second Brain” in the gut. Brené Brown, for example, recently published on “The Atlas of the Heart”. There are multiple studies and books about the Mind-Gut connection and how the gut impacts decision-making.
A values-based decision:
Any choice in life, whether it’s about family, health, lifestyle or professional development and growth, should at a bare minimum align with your values. I’m not talking about the values that you think “would be a good idea” or values held by your family or friends.
What values do you want to use to judge and measure your life? What matters to you?
For me, as I mentioned at the beginning, my lifestyle decisions need to align with:
- freedom — does this create financial freedom, emotional freedom, and excellent health to be more active and participate freely in life?
- Wisdom — is this wise, especially in alignment with my inner wisdom?
- Mastery — does this align with mastering myself and mastering the subjects that matter to me? Am I learning and growing? Does it challenge me to expand in the direction I want to go?
- Empowerment —does this choice empower me? Will I increase my reach to empower others?
- Laughter — does this bring me joy and laughter? Are the people involved “my kind of people”? Will I find light moments and laugh with them? Will this stress out too much and suck the joy out of my life?
These are my absolute minimums that are non-negotiable.
What are your non-negotiable values?
Inner alignment: head, heart & gut
Inner alignment is a little harder to explain lightly, as it’s a process of generating internal alignment and wisdom rather than an end state. It responds to the somatic experience of the moment (interception) and external stimulus (exteroception). This is a spiral of personal development and growth rather than a static state of being.
But let me share with you some of the basics that I would consider in this process:
From the heart:
- What are my wants and desires about this as I take my values into account?
- What’s important to me that I want to hold in my heart through this decision-making process?
- What emotions or feelings am I noticing and aware of?
- How might this impact my relationships? When I am genuinely compassionate — to myself and others — what do I want to create in my relationships and myself?
At a head level:
- What are the various perspectives that I can look at this decision-making process from? What point of view have I overlooked or failed to consider that might hold more insight? Whose opinion should I ask that might challenge how I look at this?
- Thinking, analysis and planning: using both right-brain and left-brain thinking — how do I want to approach this?
- Making meaning: what does this mean for me? When I listen to my heart, what additional purpose does it have?
- How can I be more creative in thinking outside the box and coming up with more options that align with my values and what I want?
At a gut level:
- Identity — Is this who I am? Can I expand and grow into a more extensive and more lavish version of myself with this choice? Or is there an instinctual gut reaction that “this is not who I am”?
- Safety & Security — Do I feel safe making this decision? Does my gut respond with “this is too risky, and I’m not comfortable”? What boundaries of self or not-self do I need to explore (expanding my comfort zone) or respect?
- Can I find the courage and motivation to move forward on this?
As I said, this is a process of alignment, rather than simply accepting any “no” and either overlooking it or accepting it at face value. I’m not going to ignore my gut instinct for survival and safety, although I might work with those gut feelings to realign my sense of self and identity to expand into a new comfort zone! Just because my gut is blocked and refusing to move forward doesn’t mean that I won’t sleep on it and allow my gut to digest the ideas and suggest new solutions.
It’s a process of generative wisdom.
A life I love:
If any part of me is “left behind” or ignored — life feels incomplete. You could strive for perfection: but you would have to cut away and ignore all the parts of you that are “imperfect”.
Somehow, you’re left feeling incomplete!
For example — you might know something is “a great plan”, but “your heart’s just not in it”. Just because it’s a great plan or goal doesn’t make it an excellent idea for me! I could chase this goal to perfection, but would it feel like an empty success upon achieving it?
I would rather have a life that I love with all my heart!
At the same time, I’ve already said that one of my values is wisdom — so I won’t follow my heart without thinking things through! I want a life of wise compassion & passion, not just following the whims of my heart like an Awkward Yeti comic!
By this same measure, I want wise courage to move forward. That means that I evaluate risks, facing my fears — rather than ignoring them. But, rather than overriding my gut’s concerns, I take them into account and look at what is really valid and worthwhile. Is this risk worth it and can I garner the courage to face it?
That’s why I think that the concept of satisficing is so powerful!
I want a lifestyle that weaves together everything vital to me, meeting my minimum requirement for a satisfying life.