Did you know that our brain struggles with making decisions when there are multiple options?
This is why it can sometimes be so challenging to order your main meal off a dinner menu — too many choices and a serious case of food-FOMO!
I am struggling every week on the topic or subject to write an article on Medium or create a weekly video for my YouTube channel. And this is even more so the case when making important or complex work-related decisions.
Managing your dilemma of multiple choices and options.
The reason why is because of something called ‘the paradox of choice’.
The Paradox of Choice — Why More Is Less is a 2004 book by American psychologist Barry Schwartz. In the book, Schwartz argues that eliminating consumer choices can greatly reduce anxiety for shoppers.
Schwartz assembles his argument from a variety of fields of modern psychology that study how happiness is affected by the success or failure of goal achievement.
When you have too many options, you’re less likely to be to choose something you’re happy with.
But there is a solution.
It comes down to narrowing your options to only 2 at a time. This is because your brain is much better at making binary decisions — Either / Or, Yes / No.
Here’s how you can do it:
- Step 1 — Set your criteria for the decision. What’s are the important factors to consider?
- Step 2 — Write out all of your options on post-it notes or on a whiteboard.
- Step 3 — With 2 options only, ask, “which meets my criteria better?” The one that doesn’t move into a ‘No’ pile, the other moves into a ‘Maybe’ pile.
- Step 4 — Do this with all remaining options until you have 2 stacks: ‘No’ and ‘Maybe’.
- Step 5 — For the ‘Maybe’ pile, repeat the whole process, and keep repeating until you have only 2 options left.
- Step 6 — Then choose!
It turns out that having too many choices can actually be detrimental to our well-being. Psychology professor Barry Schwartz argues that having an infinite number of choices is paralyzing and exhausting.
We set unrealistic expectations and blame ourselves for choosing what we believe to be the wrong decision.
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