The Paradox of Choice Hurts Us

I just finished my fifth semester and college. I want to take on a new goal and try to do something that will help me learn and give me experience.

The problem is, there are too many choices for one thing to interest me and capture me in.

Looking up “hobbies” on google will give you a big list, but that list is nowhere near the size of what your choices are.

The more choices there are, the harder it is to pick. The less likely I will agree with my choice.

This is known as The Paradox of Choice.

And sitting around reevaluating what choices to shave off and narrow down, the more I contemplate what I’m trying to find and if I ever will find it.

 

The paradox in action


This Paradox of Choice is almost painful to the extent that I am experiencing.

I get headaches when I get bored and they get worse depending on how long I’ve been trying to decide on something.

A good way to look at this is deciding between ice cream flavors.

My favorites are cookie dough, peppermint and chocolate.

But maybe I am at an ice cream store that claims to have the best chocolate ice cream in the world with a high reputation for their chocolate.

What if this was on a day when I was really craving cookie dough?

I might think, “Well, this is a once in a while opportunity. I should get the chocolate.” But then the next thought that enters my mind, “It’s still just chocolate ice cream and cookie dough sounds sooo good right now.”

It’s a simple example, but one that can be pictured as a problem with an increased size.

What if these were career choices? What if they were class choices?

What if I ordered the cookie dough as my decision, only to find out they are out of that? My problem goes away entirely and I am happy.

This Paradox of Choice is what brings the pain of trying to analyze the impossible of what will bring more happiness when we can only predict so far before the choice becomes even harder to choose from.

The true definition I found says, “The more choices we have, the less likely we are to be content with our decision.”

But so what do we do about it?

 

Force your choices to deplete


In order to make this not happen as much as it might, force yourself or someone else to deplete from the choices you have.

Make a list of your decisions, all of them, and start crossing them off but cross hard. Use a black sharpie to not even be able to read what it is you crossed out.

If you are able to completely remove something, remove it before you start wondering if that decision will actually come back into play.

This shows if you are able to completely disregard something and pledge to not make it a choice, you’ve reduced your choices and can reassure yourself it was crossed and should not even be remembered from there on out.

A lot of this plays into how procrastination works. We build pressure on ourselves to get something done so when it comes time to do it, we are able to choose between things a lot easier and not have regrets because we don’t have time to regret.

Similar to not having many choices, time works the same way when working on ideas.

Use removal of choices to make the other choices easier. If they’re tied, get rid of the others to make the tied ones easier to choose between when background choices are completely out of the picture.

 

Other techniques


There is a choice you want. It’s just hard, sometimes even impossible, for us to see it ourselves.

If you’ve ever heard the technique to make a decision by flipping a coin and before you look at the results, you’ll know what you want it to say.

And I don’t mean flip the coin and predict and then get stuck again on what you want it to be. Actually lift your hand up and look at the coin. Right as your eyes start interpreting which side it’s on, you’ll realize what you hope it says.

This also works because if you really are 50-50, which it’s even been proven coin flips aren’t due to weight distribution, then you can just let the coin decide in the end.

If there is no possible way for you to choose, live life the same way it started for you. By the universes choice, whether random or not.

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