The Paradox of Choice: Simple Hacks To Choose And Commit

We love to have choices — but choosing is another matter.

In grade school my class got t-shirts to support saving the rainforests. I picked a black shirt with an ocelot, but the white shirt with a toucan was more popular. I had a now familiar twinge of doubt. Did I make the right call? The ocelot was cuter in real life, but the toucan was more colorful, and I looked better in white.

I didn’t know any ocelots personally, but I imagine I would have felt differently if I did.

I had no personal connection.

I find the same thing with clients seeking more fulfillment in their work. They’re not connected to it. It’s not alive for them, and it makes them feel, a little dead.

When they connect to what they care about (including themselves), they drop the grass is greener pattern, the questioning or the jumping around, they commit, and they take action. Similarly for my clients who start out as “non-finishers” (starting lots of things and leaving loose ends). Getting them very grounded in the higher meaning is the motivational force that has them finish, experience more satisfaction and ultimately see more success.

Big decisions are never purely intellectual. Clarity, decisiveness and integrity are matters of the heart.

If you’re struggling with a big decisions around what you want or what would be best, here are some simple hacks that may help:

  1. Pretend you’re looking back at the decision, 20 years from now. What would you older, wiser self counsel?
  2. What would you choose, if there were no limits or consequences? This doesn’t mean you “should” do this. It just gets you honest about what you want, or what the need is.
  3. What are you actually choosing between? In other words, what does each option in the abstract represent? This illuminates the competing values at play—and there always will be.
  4. What does your ideal life look like 5 years from now? Remind yourself if you’ve already done this kind of exercise. Which choice gets you closer?
  5. What would be awesome?
  6. What would you love?

For day to day decisions such as workflow/management, I’m a big fan of predeciding so I can go straight into action without further contemplation, e.g. the Ivy Lee method where you decide your top 6 priorities for the next day the night before, in priority order. Obama supposedly had only one suit so he could focus on more important choices. Same idea.

Of course you’ll need to see the forest for the trees to choose the suit or action items wisely — in this case, see hacks 1–6.

Here I am, giving you choices to address your challenges with choosing…

Experiment, try something on. Clearly no one solution (or suit) will work for all. Your freedom depends on your ability to choose. A sense of connection depends on your ability to commit.

Are you a wander woman in transition, or a busy woman who would love more room to dream and reinvent? You may be a great fit for my upcoming women’s retreat in France. You’ll get deeply in tune with yourself, dive into blue sky thinking and create a practical action plan for a powerful new chapter. Plus—bond with other amazing women. Did I mention… France?