You think you want more choice but the reality is that more choice frequently causes overwhelm. How often have you been faced with a menu of delicious treats only to struggle to slim it down to the perfect one? The agony! You then spend the time waiting for your meal feeling that you should have ordered the lasagne. Instant regret.When it comes to making a choice, the only bad choice, is failing to make one at all.
“What do you want for dinner?”, “You choose!”
We would much rather someone else make the choice for us. Why do we work for other people? Watch a series suggested by someone else? Buy clothes that we see on Instagram? Patients prefer to have others make their decisions for them. 65% surveyed said if they were to get cancer, they’d want to choose their own treatment. But only 12% of people with cancer want to do so. We always think we want choice, but when we’re faced with it, we may not like it. Isn’t it easier if that blame lies in the hands of someone else?
When people have no choice, life is almost unbearable. As the number of choices increase, the autonomy, control, and liberation this variety brings are powerful and positive. But as the number of choices keeps growing, negative aspects of having a multitude of options begin to appear. As the number of choices grows further, the negatives escalate until we become overloaded. At this point, choice no longer liberates, but debilitates. – Barry Schwartz, “Paradox Of Choice“
Schwartz endorses the following steps to improve our decision making.
1. Embrace certain voluntary constraints on freedom of choice, instead of rebelling against them.
2. Seek what is “good enough” instead of seeking the best.
3. Lower expectations about the results of decisions.
4. Make decisions that are non-reversible.
5. Pay less attention to what others around us are doing.
If it’s raining, don’t be frustrated by the endless activities you can’t do outside, use this time to explore the activities you can do, inside. Now you don’t have to go for that jog but can watch a movie free from guilt! Don’t expect things to be perfect, seek out the best parts of the outcome, not the best outcome. It’s making the most of the situation at hand and not being consumed by FOMO. Paying less attention to what others are doing means spending less time on social media.
Once you’ve added these general constraints, you can then be more courageous and selective.
1. Figure out your goals
2. Evaluate the importance of each goal
3. Put the options in order
4. Evaluate how likely each of the options is to meet your goals
5. Pick the winning option
6. Later, use the consequences of your choice to modify your goals, the importance you assign them, and the way you evaluate future possibilities.
With this information, you now have a well researched framework to create solid results. You can now figure out when to stop searching for information and take action. With so many alternatives available, it’s easy to assume that alternatives don’t exist at all. With this endless choice, we will never be satisfied with what we choose because there is no objective “best.” Remember, the only thing that matters, is the subjective experience. Your experience!