Choice – a blessing or a curse?
I recently had cause to buy a new pull-out bin to fit inside a cupboard in my kitchen.
Not a very scintillating purchase and one that I thought (hoped) would be a quick one. Bear with me, there is a point…..
As I opened up a website, I was faced with 48 different options and before I knew it over an hour had passed and I still hadn’t chosen ‘the one’. Who knew that such variety in bins even existed? “Just pick one” muttered my partner – but it was late in the evening and I was stuck in bin choice paralysis. How did life get this exciting?
A few days later, I happened to comment to him how I prefer to shop at our local mini supermarket rather than go to the bigger one. He looked at me slightly quizzically. I tried to explain, “It’s so much easier when there are just 1 or 2 choices for each item”.
I hadn’t realised I felt this way until that moment. Normally I love having choice – being able to have something just as I like it is one of life’s pleasures. And I’m not the only one. From food to gadgets to fashion and more, the consumer world has gone mad for enabling customers to personalise everything and choose just the right combination, flavour, colour, function or style for them.
Thinking more widely, having choices and options in life are of immense value, perhaps more than we can possibly imagine. To have choice in life is to have freedom. Having freedom gives us the ability to decide what we do, who we do it with, how we do it and when we want to do something different.
But here’s the thing: sometimes having too much choice can be totally overwhelming.
I often speak with clients who are longing for a change in their working life but flounder at the first question that pops into their head: ‘what do I want to do?’ The question is too broad – they feel blinded by the endless possibilities or perhaps that there is no choice at all and they are bound to remain stuck for the rest of their career.
Unless you are very clear about your goal, you first need to work out what really makes you tick, what you’re good at and what gives you purpose – and what might you be prepared to give up in to order to realise your goal.
This means asking some much more focused questions, chunking things up to see the bigger picture and chunking things down to consider the detailed reality. In a sense, it’s about ‘trying on’ the options to see what fits you. Having this insight is like putting on your glasses when previously everything was blurry – it gives clarity to the ideas and choices in front of you, better equipping you to decide ‘which one will best enable me to live the life I want, for myself and others?’
Making decisions can be hard – they are often multi-dimensional. But without doubt, having choice is a blessing, and asking the right questions helps you to make the most of it.