Is there such a thing as too many options? Are too many options a bad thing? Are 31 flavors of ice cream better than 3? Do you want paper, or plastic, or the green reusable shopping bag? Do we want kiddie sized, regular sized, medium sized, or super-sized meals? There are a million options every day of even the smallest of choices. So how do we choose?
Researching the answer used to be helpful. You made a few calls, talked to a few people, and you figured it out, but now it’s totally different. We have the Internet, and even better we have Google! It’s like having the world’s largest library at your fingertips, and now thanks to Siri you don’t even have to type your search term, you can simply hit a button and talk to the device. But, is having access to mounds of research on the Intranet a helpful thing when it comes to making choices, or does it make the process far too difficult because it overloads us with data to sort through in our evaluation of our options to pick from?
My son and his wife just bought their first home, but it is a fixer-upper that needs a tremendous amount of work before they can move into it. For every problem we go to fix in the house, we uncover all kinds of additional problems that have to be fixed. It needs everything from new windows, flooring, bathroom everything, kitchen counters and some appliances…you name it, it needs it…this is turning into a huge undertaking…far bigger than we expected…
Faced with options on what items to purchase in this home renovation project I find myself faced with way too many options to choose from. There are at least a hundred different dishwashers with a million features to choose from, there are limitless flooring options, and even outlet covers come in thousands of options…the more choices there are to choose from, the more I find myself stressed out and unsure of what to select.
Turns out that studies on this very subject of having too many options to choose from have shown that when we have too many options it is hurtful to us, not helpful. And the more time we spend researching every option the more we will feel stressed out about choosing. Not only that but too much research will also leave us with a nagging feeling after we’ve made a purchase that perhaps we would have gotten a better deal with a different choice.
So apparently that is the key here – I need to limit the number of options on each purchasing choice to only researching three or four options tops. Otherwise I will drive myself insane trying to decide between a dishwasher with buttons on the top and one with buttons on the front….sigh….
Stop over-analyzing things. Consider just a few options and then pick one and move forward. Don’t allow yourself to look back and think “what if”. Just make the choice and move ahead. You’ll get far more accomplished when you don’t get hung up on any one thing.
~Amy Rees Anderson (you can purchase a copy of my new book here: “What AWESOME Looks Like: How To Excel In Business & Life“)