Let’s talk about choice, specifically one of the main things that comes along with having to make a choice; the stress of choosing. The simple choices like what do I wear or what do I eat to the more complex ones like what path should I take in terms of my education or what path should I take in terms of my career, some of these decisions come with an associated stress and risk.
When you’re a kid choices are simple; either the choice was made for us or it really wasn’t the big deal. Take for instance you were playing with a toy and if you were done you would put it back and you would play with another toy; It’s a simple as that. If we were taken to a toy shop we would have someone to choose for us, and even if we had to choose it does not come with associated risk or stress.
So as a child choice isn’t something that you really need to think about but as adults choice is something that becomes a critical aspect of life. So why is it difficult to process this aspect of choice; It’s probably because there is an opportunity cost involved. This opportunity cost comes with a potential loss if you happen to choose wrong.
Many of us happen to think we’re really bad at making choices. We have this perception in our head and it reinforces itself over and over so much so that we try to subcontract the decision-making process. You’ve probably experienced this when your family or a group of friends are trying to decide where to eat. Each person says; ‘I don’t know, ask the other’, until no one has chosen, either because they don’t want the responsibility to choose, choosing is a burden, or they would much rather have someone else tell them where they should eat.
as a result of this when we start subcontracting this decision making process we start to think of ourselves as being indecisive and we program our brain to start constantly perceiving ourselves as being indecisive beings in every possible aspect that requires a choice or a decision to be made.
On the rare occasion where we cannot subcontract this choice and we make it by ourselves We start doubting these choices and start labeling them as bad choices. Not to mention the all encompassing anxiety that comes around with these choices.
So I think it’s clear, that as adults we need to figure out ways to make decisions and choices and the struggle is real; Don’t assume you are alone in feeling this way. Decision anxiety is real, and we need to learn to deal with it.
So let us discuss three things that you can start to include in your daily decision-making process that will make the whole concept a little bit easier. Don’t look at it in terms of making perfect decisions, instead look at it in terms of making better decisions. The first thing to do would be to train your brain into evaluating options and this starts with the simple things. Perhaps teach your brain to consider the various options available in situations that have no apparent applications; like which outfit you are going to wear for the day. Now in considering this you may consider how recently you’ve worn certain outfits, which colors appeal to you, which fits you best right now, which is the most comfortable etc. Note how you are considering and evaluating various criteria rather than pondering on the entirety of what do I wear. Push your brain to evaluate options similarly in terms of food choices or movie choices. With the more complex decisions start evaluating the cost versus the benefit of each possible choice.
The second aspect that you need to consider is to avoid decision paralysis; that is you fixate on the fact that you need to make a decision while putting in zero effort to make the actual decision. We see this often with pending big decisions where people stress over the fact that the decision has to be made, get mentally exhausted as a result of this preemptive stress, end up being too mentally tired to make a decision, finally resulting in extra stress because the decision is not made. It’s like you’re getting really tired going nowhere really fast. Wouldn’t it make better sense to channel that energy towards making the decision rather than thinking about making the decision?
The third aspect to consider is how committed you are to the choice you make. A lot of the times we semi commit to our choices and when it doesn’t work out we consider those choices bad ones. This then circles backed to the point where we start to believe we’re bad at making choices. If you have put enough of energy into evaluating all the variables and making a choice, The option you have selected deserves every possible opportunity that you can afford it to become successful. Decision anxiety more often than not leaks into after we’ve made a decision as well and this isn’t helping because we tend to look back and think should have, would have, could have.
All of these three aspects; evaluating options and considering the cost benefit, putting the most amount of mental effort to actually make the decision rather than think about making the decision and finally giving the choice you’ve made the best possible chance to succeed comes together to create a systematic process for looking at choices. This is a practice and that means it will only get better with time if you are consistent with it.
All of that being said sometimes you have to be smart enough to know when something isn’t working out. Some decisions granted due to our own faults or due to external factors end up not working out and the choice to pull the plug should follow a similar pattern to what’s mentioned above.
Let’s start with the simple things and let our minds get comfortable with being proactive in making choices and then scale up to try and fry the bigger fish.