Okay, it is the first full week in March and I’m so excited for everything this month has to offer. We are two months into 2018 and I wonder how you are doing with your goals that you’ve set for the year? Of course, take on new behaviors can be challenging and set backs are inevitable, but its what you do in those moments that will determine how successful you are in your goal.
I want to talk a little bit about choice and how we have so much power in it! Now, if you’ll indulge me for a moment, I want to talk about the show “The Bachelor”. If you are following along, or have seen in the news, the Bachelor Arie Luyendyk, Jr. decided that after already proposing to one women, he had made a mistake and really should’ve have chosen the “runner up.” Of course, fans are furious because he not only told two women that he loved them, but then he decided to renege on his proposal to one woman in favor of proposing to the other.
I’m not completely sure how I feel about the show, but my take away is that we need to give our decisions a bit more thought. There is so much power in the choices we make daily— Do I walk to work or drive? Do I order the pizza or the salad? Do take time out of day to chat with a friend, or reschedule? We are sometime so engrossed in how busy our lives are, that we forget we have the power of choice.
Now there is such a thing as too much choice causing paralysis within decision making— “The Tyranny of Choice”. This is possibly what happened to Arie when trying to decide among two women. This paradox examines why people feel uneasy in the choices that they make. Barry Schwartz, a psychologist and researcher identifies that “maximizers” (people who try to make the best possible choice) are uneasy about their choices because the “cost” of making one decision takes away from the opportunity of another choice. The more choices, the deeper the sense of loss. Furthermore, not only will this type of person feel uneasy about the other possible opportunities or choices lost, but they will may also suffer regret for the choice they settle on. Hmm, again maybe this is what happened to Arie.
Another aspect of this paradox is that maximizers feel that we must live up to high expectations in our busy, complicated lives. As I mentioned in another post, most millennials are driven by the idea of perfection. Due to this unrealistic expectation of perfection, many millennials are becoming more and more depressed. Psychologist Barry Schwartz notes that unlimited choice can extend further than disappointment and uneasiness to become clinical depression. He notes that when we set up make decisions in efforts to reach unrealistic expectations, we tend to blame ourselves when those expectations aren’t met. This sense of disappointment is a direct result of believing that personal failure could have been avoided had a different choice been made.
Well what can we do with the multitudes of choices we have to make everyday.
Well for starters don’t freak out! But in case you find yourself on a reality television show trying to choose between a multitude of suitors or your just in the grocery store trying to decide which brand of coconut oil to buy, there are some lessons to remember.
Choose when we choose— Restrict your options when the choice is not crucial. For instance, there’s no need to visit multiple grocery stores just for a bag of flaxseeds.
Learn to accept “good enough”. Let’s stop searching the best and settle on the one thing that meets our preconceived requirements. You can drive around all day looking for the best price, but then you’ve just wasted time and gas driving around to so many different stores.
Don’t worry about what you’re missing. Let’s start to focus on the positive aspects of our choice versus dwelling on the negative thoughts that consume us when we think we may have chosen wrong or that there is a better choice.
Control Expectations. If you don’t expect so much, you want feel as though you missed out on much. I know that is simply put, but it is directly said. Stop expecting that there is a perfect, or best choice and be confident in yourself that you know how to choose wisely.
Now I can say for sure what happened with Arie, but I suspect his circumstance is a study in sociology, human behavior and psychology. Now, I may get crucified for this, but I somewhat understand what happened to Arie. Did he go about it in the right way? Of course not! I will only speak for myself in this instance, but I do find that I’m constantly looking for the “right”suitor and sometimes I’ll let a good one go because I think I can do better or I may get another opportunity to meet a better man. I’m not advocating settling, but there is some benefit to the steps outlined above in making decisions in all areas of our lives. I would love to know your take on all of this, so send me a message by using my contact form linked on the bottom of this page.
There’s an amazing Ted Talk given by Psychologist Barry Schwartz. Check it out and let me know what you think!