Chapter 11 of the One Life Manifesto: Choice. Grab my full book on Amazon.
Let’s talk about choice and the power of choice. It’s the 21st century and there are twelve different types of eggs in my local grocery store, ranging from free range to organic, to all the different types of grooming methods – how they raise chickens, how the eggs are separated. Remember ten years ago, there was just one egg that you could choose from. It wasn’t so complicated.
This is one example of many of how choices are really overtaking our lives. We are paralyzed by the amount of choices and we struggle to make decisions because of it. We don’t know if the choice we end up making is the right one. In psychology we call it cognitive dissonance theory. It’s buyer’s remorse for having made a decision. Our end state after making a choice.
We beat ourselves up constantly over the choices we make, and it’s not going to get any easier. Now we try to figure out which social media platforms to invest our time in and we struggle to choose between one and the other. Then news influences our choices. We go back and forth between television channels, so the dilemma of choice becomes a chronic epidemic. We have plenty of people who are paralyzed, incapable of making decisions today.
Can you imagine what Presidents and world leaders have to go through today as there are more choices and decisions to be made? The demands are greater. The stresses in our lives are much greater as the choices have increased in number and complexity. And how do you overcome this paralysis of choice? How do we battle through this? It’s not an easy answer. We have to be diligent. We have to say: that is the one. I am going to own this decision. Decision is a choice and I am sticking to it. You have to accept your feelings of regret or remorse. You have to know that there is no right or wrong in choice. The act of making one is an appropriate decision.
Kids don’t go to university because of how many programs are in school. They are paralyzed by choice. They do not know which course to go with. Even after a decision, they are still uncertain. Are they on the right path? Is this the right path for me? They are just uncertain.
Choice is this very difficult workload for one’s plate. Most will try to pass it off to someone else and say: you handle this. There are few leaders today because nobody wants to own the vision. Even the leaders today may be uncomfortable with decisions because they are alone to make those decisions. I will say that making a choice is the right decision. Moving on and making more decisions, getting more diligent, getting more comfortable with making choices is an excellent approach. Getting used to making mistakes is healthy. The after-effects are good for you to get used to.
Get comfortable in making decisions whether they are right or wrong. Just getting used to it so that decision-making is a quicker effort will take up less stress in your day. Some choices are very easy and yet we still dwell. Should I work or should I take it easy today? If you want to make a difference, do the work. You have to examine your thoughts. Don’t let your thoughts get in the way of your choices.
Peer influence affects your choices. The news affects your choices. All these stakeholders now affect your decision making and your choices. Your decisions are ever more complex. Sometimes you need to be free of these stakeholders and say: it is my sole decision to make.
I remember the purchase of my second car. It was the largest purchase of my life at the time. At the time I felt it was the best purchase I had ever made. I had the opinions of five or six other people as to what to buy based on their experiences. I struggled to make a decision because of the abundance of feedback. Some of it I really appreciated, then I realized at some point that an abundance of information can be too much.
How much feedback is too much? We dwell on the reviews of others. We sit on Amazon, looking at reviews, just reading over and over again. Yet picking the pros and cons of a particular device or book can put us in a state of analysis paralysis. Too much information at our fingertips makes it more difficult than ever before to make any purchase and a firm decision.
Regret. The more you think about it the more you fill yourself with regret. The more you feel like you are off track and need to pivot to change your decision. Then you go back and forth and waiver on your choice. You show that you are indecisive and that’s not an attractive trait. Not a professional or appropriate trait to have. It’s not a way to lead a healthy life, as it breaks you down.
Even the decision of what clothes to wear in the morning can affect your psyche. The amount of choices you have in your wardrobe will always make you wonder what outfit to wear. Then it’s: which restaurant to go to. What food to make.
What happened for me is that I have reduced my clutter and reduced the amounts of decisions that I make in a day by getting rid of unnecessary stuff. By removing the barriers to decision making.
So now I only have a few decisions today. Those decisions are critical. I do not think about the minutiae. I don’t think much about what I wear. I don’t think about what I eat. These are trivial decisions. Business decisions are more important and I spend more time on that. I have gotten better because I select which choices are needed to be made and then I remove any other choices which are unnecessary.
That is one strategy to cope with choice dilemma: remove choices. Is this choice easy to make? Is this really important? Is it really something which is going to impact your life? Is it really something that you have to live with? Is it really that critical? More often the choices are too trivial to make them at all. We can just remove these choices altogether. Do you really need that new dress? Do you really need that new pair of jeans? Do you really need a new car? Do you really need to eat out?
It is unlikely you have taken the necessary preparations. Get your top quality clothes in your wardrobe easily accessible. Take away all your crummy clothes. They are no longer needed. Then your self-esteem improves because you are always looking at your best clothes. You will never feel like getting a new pair of this or that. Because you have your best clothes front and center, clothes that will likely serve you for years.
We choose to consume what we don’t need to consume. You have to process the need of buying things. Going on Amazon, do you need that book? Do you need that piece of electronics? It’s unlikely that you do. You should be content with what you have. Be content with the life that you are having. Be content with the people in your life. They are the ones that enrich your life, not the choices on physical products and choices on trivial decisions. Reduce the amount of choices.
Perhaps the main choices that you make, you have deep thoughts about. That is okay if they are important. You can devote the time to make the decision. You will get better in making tough choices. That is important as you get better at eliminating trivial choices. You get better at tuning out the noise. You get focused on the choices that matter.