Article in brief: Many believe they are fortunate to have a wealth of options available at their fingertips, but can this abundance actually be a burden for some. The author explores this topic and offers tips on overcoming the challenges of having too many options.
We live in a world where we have an abundance of choices and limitless possibilities available to us. Be it at the grocery when we buy snacks or at an electronics store to buy a new phone, we are faced with a plethora of options.
Gone are the days when there were only a few models for cell phones out there for one to choose from. In today’s world, they come in all shapes and sizes; and the abundance of options is not just limited to material goods, but also to other areas which are far more important, such as raising our children.
For example, we have one researcher claiming that for babies to get proper sleep, you need to follow a strict cry-it-out method, while another researcher disagrees, arguing that such techniques can be harmful to the baby in the long run. In this day and age, you can find a variety in every aspect of your life. We feel blessed to live comfortably and have so many choices available to us. But can this wide scale availability of choices actually be more exhausting than empowering?
For many people, having so many options to choose from can be a daunting task, wherein no decision feels right. Psychologists have inferred that people tend to put themselves under a lot more pressure when making choices and can sometimes feel regret and anxiety even after they have made that decision.
Barry Schwartz states “the fact that some choice is good doesn’t necessarily mean more choice is better” in his book “The Paradox of Choice”. Similarly, there has been research to indicate that consumers can sometimes tend to make bigger purchases when there is less variety to choose from. An example is when Procter & Gamble in the US reduced its Head and Shoulders shampoo range from 26 to 15, and noticed that the sales went up by 10%. Renowned psychologist, Sheena Iyengar, also talks about “Choice Overload” in her book “The Art of Choosing”. She describes choice overload as a malady that people suffer from, because of the abundance of choice available, rather than the lack of it.
It is, therefore, important to distinguish between the mundane and momentous choices so that one is not left paralyzed in the decision-making process. Depending on the weight of the decision, the first step in any decision-making process should be to gather as much information as possible. It does also help to assess the pros and cons of any significant decision by making a list and weighing the options. It is also important to remember the effect your decisions have on you, so that you can refer to them again if a similar situation arises. A common theme among the various authors, psychologists, and coaches who have written or spoken about this topic is that one must cultivate confidence in their decisions.
To quote Eleanor Roosevelt, “In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility”. Is it not then wise to ensure that you make the best decisions for yourself?
- The Economist (2010). “The Tyranny of Choice”. Retrieved 14 October 2014. http://www.economist.com/node/17723028
- Sheena Iyengar (2010). “The Art of Choosing”. Retrieved 14 October 2014. http://sheenaiyengar.com/the-art-of-choosing/
Bahar is a recruiter by profession, an aspiring writer by night, and a mom of toddler twins. She has an unending thirst for learning, as she completed her BComm in Canada, an MA in Dubai, and continues to develop herself with reading and research.
With her column, she shares her journey as she grows and learns more about this crazy beautiful world we live in.
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