I have discovered a phenomenon that I thought only I struggled with.
Too many choices.
I honestly thought it was just me,
Being scatty brained,
But it’s not and it wasn’t.
It’s a documented, written about, quantified fact that we live in a society that presents us with too many choices.
I spent the last week scouring hotels.com and TripAdvisor and Wotif for the ‘best deal’ for our upcoming trip to Malaysia.
We stayed somewhere last year that was perfect and that would have been amazing,
But I decided that I wanted a new experience and that there was bound to be a better deal out there.
So I looked, and looked, and looked…
Needless to say, after what probably amounted to 40 actual hours of scouring,
About 10 Skype calls to check out potential hotels,
And a lot of stress,
I ended up choosing the same place as last year. The deal was amazing.
Why am I telling you this?
It’s because I’m a sucker when it comes to having choices
But that in the last year I have put some things in place to short circuit these painful processes.
As you can see though, I’m still very much a work in progress!
I was the mum who seeing the four flavours of frozen cokes at the drive through at Maccas,
Would give my kids a choice.
White, whole grain, brown, rye, linseed bread,
I would stand in the bakery section and contemplate the health risks of such a decision.
An iPhone 6 or a Samsung?
And now being mobile and able to answer emails and work at every place I go,
I, as well as everyone else, are now presented with the choice of whether to work while on holidays, or watching TV, or attending our kids’ sports matches…
Choices are constantly being thrown at us
And I believe that we have been convinced that having these choices is a sign of being an affluent, ‘successful’ member of society
And perhaps for some it is.
But what is being increasingly documented is that this massive amount of choice
Is a major contributor to clinical depression.
We blame ourselves for making the wrong choice.
We ‘wish’ we’d gone with the other choice,
We’re always thinking that the choice we made was not the best choice and this leads to things like,
Comparison to others,
The fear of missing out (FOMO),
Never being satisfied, and
Wait for it,
Even the inability to make choices at all,
Causing choice paralysis.
All can be side effects of having too many choices.
It’s called the ‘paradox of choice’
And rather than liberate you with its plethora of choices,
It can actually end up overwhelming you and stalling your life
So that you don’t make any decisions at all.
This was really helpful for me to know
Because so often I have put off making decisions
Because I have been overwhelmed by the number of options
Of making the wrong choice.
Did you know that we are only designed to hold 7-9 facts in our mind at any time?
So, by the time you’ve remembered to write your shopping list, remember to pick the kids up and drop them off because it’s Wednesday today and it’s soccer practice, washed your whites in a separate wash, taken the meat out to defrost for dinner, written that problematic email back to that person, paid your bills, prayed for your family, your church, your friends, spoken to your significant other about that thing you forgot to mention, checked the mail, ordered books from the book depository, packed for the trip next weekend, bought deodorant at the shops, made that hair appointment and written that song for the album…..
You have actually well and truly used up your quota of available space for the day.
And that’s just before you get out of bed.
Scientists have shown that as soon as we have more than these 7-9 thoughts going on in our heads,
We actually enter the Danger Zone,
A place where things can then start to get forgotten
Because we actually don’t have the capacity to remember them.
The same goes for choices.
We need to reserve the ‘choice space’ (excuse the pun),
For those choices that require deliberate and complex thought about them.
Because we spend so much of our time messing around making inconsequential decisions,
We effectively have no room left to make the important ones.
We are exhausted from choice.
And when it counts,
We make poor decisions because we’ve wasted our ‘choice energy’ on dumb things.
It’s my new pursuit.
My buzz word.
My life cry at the moment.
It’s actually been something I’ve been trying to concertedly implement in my life for the last year.
And it’s truly freeing.
I am de cluttering.
I am ridding myself of the ‘too many’.
Clothes, possessions, household items,
If I don’t need them, I get rid of them.
You name it, I’ve been discovering ways of stripping back my overconsumerised life
And living simply again.
I’d like to eventually write a book on my discoveries
But for right now,
I want to say that if you are finding yourself swamped in a world of choice,
Try restricting yourself to one.
That’s all you need.
And be content with the ‘good enough’ choice,
Rather than having to have ‘the best’ all the time.
Because the ‘best’ choice will only be a matter of time before it becomes less than the new or the ‘better’.