Thoughtful Thursday: Exhaustive

July 7, 2011

Thoughtful Thursday

Welcome to the July Intelligentsia, the people who have commented on every Thoughtful Thursday post in June.

#21: Elana from Elana’s Musings
#20: Lost In Translation from We Say IVF, They Say FIV
#18: A from Are You Kidding Me?
#15: Photogrl from Not the Path I Chose
#13: Strongblonde from Strong Blonde
#5: Tara from Turkey In My Oven
#3: St. Elsewhere

Thoughtful ThursdayDifferent people approach tasks differently. My friend is hiring a new nanny right now. She interviewed someone, decided that she was fine, and hired her. Done.

My friend and I are very different. I could never hire someone, even if they were absolutely fine, if I thought there was any possibility that the next interview might reveal someone slightly better. My style is to comb the entire list of possibilities, making sure that I have exhaustively evaluated every option. No stone unturned. Until I have been sure that there is nothing better, during my nanny searches I have kept searching for the absolute best person who could possibly exist [within my tiny geographic area and seeking to work as a nanny under my exact parameters].

(Side note to those who remember my nanny woes a few months ago, with the lazy lame duck: I followed commenters’ advice and initiated an annual performance review. She started to go through the process then abruptly quit — poached by a family who paid more. We hired someone so much better. This nanny is so fantastic that she makes me reluctant to move away. The lame duck emailed me a couple of months later to see if I needed child care. Apparently the wealthy family realized their mistake in not calling for a reference before hiring her. I told her I would not need her services.)

I’ve taken the same exhaustive approach to house hunting. When we bought the house we currently own, even though my instinct told me during the internet searches that this was the house for us, we saw a dozen others in a single weekend to make absolutely sure that there wasn’t a better one out there. There wasn’t. This is the best possible house for us [that happened to be in our price range and walking distance from my office].

I’m again searching for a new house, as we may finally be moving. I have done tons of research on every possible neighborhood near my theoretical new workplace, comparing qualities like length of commute, walking distance to cute restaurants, crime rates, and proximity of an organic market. I have appointments to see available houses in several of those neighborhoods when I go to that city for my interview, even though I don’t yet have the job. Even if none of those houses work out, the information will help me narrow my subsequent search. And if I don’t get the job, I will know the perfect neighborhood for that city, just like I do for the last two jobs I didn’t get.

When I’ve bought each of our strollers, car seats, cribs, high chairs, etc., of course I evaluated every possibility on the market. There is no perfect stroller, but I promise you that I selected the best possible stroller currently on the market [that happens to fit in my tiny trunk].

Oh man, you should have seen the spreadsheet I made when I was deciding what college to attend. It involved multiple pieces of graph paper, taped together. I started with every elite college on the east coast and started narrowing, narrowing, narrowing. I researched every relevant criterion then visited the top dozen. In the end, my gut instinct was the same choice that my data had indicated — but no way I could have just gone with my instinct. The 16-year-old version of me was just as exhaustive, just as meticulous, just as nerdy.

What is your approach when you are making a decision? Do you go with the first reasonable choice, exhaust every possibility, or do something in between?

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16 Responses to “Thoughtful Thursday: Exhaustive”

  1. St. Elsewhere Says:

    Oh boy, you should be a researcher. Are you a researcher?

    I am not as meticulous as you.

    Possibly also, the time I will spend on a decision is how critical the decision is for me. A dinner plan, I will go to the first name that hits me, but changing jobs or the institution, I will like to be very thorough about it.

    As a person, I do tend to be impulsive.

    And a good call on not hiring that old nanny. I do remember the woes.

  2. Heather Says:

    This is exactly what I do!!! I research everything! I haven’t had to interview a nanny (my SIL is an awesome one!), but for work, we interview all possible candidates (and once I asked them for more candidates if they had them as I didn’t think we were going to get two from the pool we were looking at). We always look into all the possibilities before making a decision.

  3. BB Says:

    I am a spreadsheet person! I tend to research/review before I make any decisions. I tend to spend a lot of time researching/reviewing, whether it is a restaurant, a hospital (for the twins birth), a vacation or a car. I looked at cars for 6 months before we bought it (LOL- half of the wait was because we were IFs ;)). I am currently in process of researching for a vacation 🙂

    I was about to ask you as to what happened to your move!? Woud you be moving to the same area that you had mentioned in your email?

  4. a Says:

    I do some research, but I cannot stand to drag the process out. Extensive “should I or shouldn’t I?” debates drive me batty. My husband likes to explore every possibility – but I often believe that he’s just refusing to commit to a course of action. However, I know it’s merely different perspective. He’s always sure that there’s something better around the corner. I am usually content with my choice and willing to make the best of it if it doesn’t work out as planned.

  5. Ana Says:

    I tend to be like you, with the spreadsheets and the pros and cons and the crazy-making, time-sucking long debate & deliberation. The worst is when purchasing something online….I go nuts reading all the reviews, etc… We had an insane spreadsheet when house-hunting. And the stroller decision was possibly even more stressful than buying a house.
    I’ve noticed though, the few times I’ve made a quick decision with limited research, I’ve been perfectly happy. We researched the heck out of daycares, and couldn’t get a spot at any of our top choices. Then we walked by one while I was on maternity leave, briefly spoke to a dad who was picking up his kid about how he liked it there, and made an appointment to meet the director & take a tour. We paid the deposit that day. Similarly, we spent so much time picking the “right” infant carseat. Suddenly a couple of months ago, my son outgrew it, and we noticed it on the way down to visit my sister. We drove to the buy buy baby near there house 20 min. before closing and picked a middle-of-the-line one.
    So maybe that is the best way, especially for smaller stakes decisions (i.e. stroller)

  6. Ana Says:

    Also, good job on finding a new nanny. I think these kind of more personal interactions (letting someone go, hiring someone) are harder than picking inanimate objects or even houses, because I keep taking their feelings and personal situations to heart.

  7. Gil Says:

    My God… I could be you.

    I do exactly the same thing. Houses. Jobs. Daycare. Cribs. Which airline to fly, for heaven’s sake!

    It’s terrible, and darn time consuming. But it is what it is, and I live with it. I tell myself that it just means I’m very informed.

    And a tad OCD. 🙂

  8. strongblonde Says:

    we’re so the same person. a benign example: i dragged b EVERYWHERE with me over a three week period when i was looking for interview suits when i ultimately purchased the first one. if i go with the first choice, even it it is my gut choice, i always wonder if i missed something that may have been better. i’m even more involved when it is related to health or money or a major decision. when i got the cancer diagnosis, i researched forever about the best trestments, what produced the highest success rates, should i freeze my eggs, etc. I wanted to be able to have an intelligent conversation with my doc. AND i wanted to make sure that she was choosing the best possible treatment and i didn’t get the shaft. only you can be the best advocate for youself, you know?

    but i know that i’m a researcher by nature. i make lists and tables whether i’m purchasing a car or planning where to put a flower bed! lol

  9. Tara (TIMO) Says:

    I’m a researcher also but I tend to be able to make a decision fairly quickly and move on. Rarely does that bite me in the backside. I guess I’m not really a researcher at all….

  10. TwoKayaks Says:

    I exhaust all possibilities. It drives my husband insane. If I haven’t researched enough, I don’t feel right about it.

  11. Elana Kahn Says:

    I try to go through as many possibilities as feasible, but if I find someone/something that fits the bill then I’ll snap it up. I do my research, but I’ll stop after only seeing a few people/things if I think I found the right match.


  12. My tendency is toward the exhaustive. But in grad school, I learned a new term that helped me temper my extreme self: satisficing. That means finding a solution that meets your needs and then moving on to the next challenge. It has helped me keep from getting overwhelmed with the endless input.

    I read consumer reports a lot, too. (Although I don’t think they have a nanny issue ;-).)


  13. I am definitely like you. I research things exhaustively and make spreadsheets to compare them. I always worry that there is something out there that is better. I do this with EVERY damn baby item out there – crib, stroller, car seat, etc. It drives my husband insane.

    We recently bought a water table for Birdie, and I spent a ridiculous amount of time looking at every model that step 2 and little tikes makes and reading reviews. It doesn’t always mean we buy the most expensive – we ended up getting a very simple and inexpensive step 2 water table at walmart. I hate shopping at walmart, but I decided on this particular model and they were the only store that carries it.

  14. Mel Says:

    I go with the first thing that feels right. Even knowing something better or cheaper may be out there. I just wait until something clicks with my gut and then I commit and I never waver from the plan.

  15. Photogrl Says:

    I’m a middle of the road choice maker.

    I always start out researching, but honestly, once I talk to or read a few things about someone/something, I tend to be comfortable enough to make the decision.

  16. St. Elsewhere Says:

    Glad to re-visit my comment here….looks like I haven’t changed! 😉


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