You may not realize it but the more choices you have to make the less happy you’re going to be. I’m experiencing this right now as I’m trying to plan a summer trip.
Originally, the plan was to go to Italy and Rome. Then one of my friends mentioned Egypt which is a place I have always wanted to see and then the Greek Islands came up. We’re all over the place and still haven’t decided and it’s driving me crazy.
Barry Schwartz’s classic, The Paradox of Choice: Why more is less has 2 amazing principles: The more options you consider, the more buyers regret you’ll have. And the more options you encounter, the less fulfilling your final outcome will be.
I think this applies to every aspect of our lives. Whether it’s picking a job, a type of business to start, a person to date, where to live, where to go and on and on. The more options that are available to you, the less happy you will be with your final outcome.
Why? Well it’s very simple. Our fear of losing things is a lot stronger than our desire to gain things is. Tell me how I might lose $20,000 by doing X and my attention will be a lot greater than if you were to tell me how I might make $20,000 by doing X.
Also, the more choices you face, the more regret you might have. Regret is simply making decisions in the past. Clearly, that’s not going to do anything.
I’ve observed that the most successful (successful in this case meaning in business) make fairly large decisions very quickly. Now or never. It either feels good or it doesn’t.
I believe that’s why the book Blink: The power of thinking without thinking became so popular in the business world because it proves that your gut instincts about a person or thing are right a lot more often than we give them credit for.
So does that mean you should never do research? No. It just means if you’re looking to buy a plasma TV or a pair of sneakers or even a car, or, are looking to hire a part time assistant; seriously considering and comparing 20 different choices is not going to help you.
The less decisions you ultimately make, the happier you’re going to be. Regret is a lot harder to deal with than wondering is.
It’s why people will stay with their significant other even though they are unhappy. It’s why people will stay at their job even though they hate it. It’s why entrepreneurs tend to work with the same people over and over. It’s why most people go to the same few restaurants over and over.
It’s why people never start working out and eating right. Why? Because there are a million different bogus diets and workouts out there.
It’s why people crave stability.
Oh and the $20,000. It worked.
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