When making choices in our lives, we are often overwhelmed by the abundance of choice out there.
Not just the bigger decisions in life like what to study, but also the smaller ones like what to do this weekend.
You might think that more choices make life easier, but according to Barry Schwartz at TED, reality is different. The more choice we have, the less decisions we actually make. As he shows, it is easier to choose between two types of cookies instead of twenty seven. Have a look at his awesome talk, as he does a way better job explaining the psychology behind it than I ever could.
However fascinating the theory is, what is more important for your day to day life is how you can deal with the ever increasing amount of choice. Let’s see how we can deal with this.
The Cupcake Problem
One thing to be aware of is that whatever you do, you can only choose so many things at the same time. Even though we would want to have it all, we can’t. We simply can’t.
It’s like when you go to the bakery to buy cupcakes. There are ten different cupcakes, all looking delicious. You want to eat them all, but you can only have one or two. So you buy two different cupcakes but as soon as you take a bite of one, you regret that you did not take the other one.
That is what happens to us in some degree with most choices we are presented with in life.
Know What You Like
Dealing with this is actually very simple.
1. Accept that you can only make so many choices. Just that knowing is a relief. It is the way it is, and there is nothing you can do about it.
2. Know what you like. When you know what you like (and what you don’t like) you eliminate a good chunk of choices. Knowing what you like comes from experience.
3. Follow your intuition. More often than not, your intuition knows what is best and often immediately. Rationalizing your decision only tangles you up. Listen to that voice inside.
Say you tried cupcake A last week because it looked so tasty on the outside, but you didn’t like the almond taste of it, then next time you know not to choose anything with almond in it, however tasty it looks. And so you have reduced your choice.
These three little steps help me everytime I am presented with (a lot of) choice and I rarely ever regret the choices I make anymore.