Living a Little Simpler: Paradox of Choice

by | Mar 3, 2017 | Productivity

Positive and negative emotions cannot occupy the mind at the same time. One or the other must dominate. It is your responsibility to make sure that positive emotions constitute the dominating influence of your mind.” – Napoleon Hill

Looking to have a simpler life? Or, maybe you just want to have more time to pursue the goals you have?

Let me ask you:

What was the last significant purchase you made?

I’m not talking about the sandwich you bought for lunch, or even the book you bought last week.

I’m talking about something that required a bit of thought.

Maybe you bought a car seat for your newborn, a new mattress for your bed, or even a new house … whatever it was, think about that purchase for a moment.

How did you feel after you made the purchase? 

Did you feel content? Or, did you feel some remorse?

Now, think about the last important decision you made?

How did you feel after the decision was made?

If you commonly feel regret or uneasy after you make a purchase or a decision, you’re probably what Barry Schwartz, author of Paradox of Choice, calls a ‘maximizer’.

Maximizers need to be assured that every decision they make was the best one. When you need that kind of assurance, even small decisions can be daunting. As the choices increase, the impossibility of making the right choice increases. This increases anxiety and decreases confidence.

This is a pretty big problem today where there are more and more options available to us than ever before!

Conversely, if you ok with most of your decisions and purchases, you’re probably a ‘satisfier’. You get things that are ‘good enough’ and don’t worry about whether there was something better.

Settling for ‘good enough’ may not seem like a positive thing at first. However, if you’re constantly seeking the best, questioning the choices you make after you’ve made them, and walking away wondering if you could have done better, you are wasting a tremendous amount of time and energy.

If you want to have a simpler life, the first step is to know what’s important in your life. What is your ideal day like? What do you need to focus on right now to move towards that?

If something impacts the creation of your ideal day, perhaps it’s a decision you should be a maximizer on. If it’s not, be a satisfier.

This will not only make your life simpler, it will save you a lot of time.

Stop wasting your energy on something that doesn’t move you closer to where you want to go.

If your ideal day involves having a flexible schedule so you can be home with your family, or it involves you doing work that matters to you, a decision like what car seat to buy for your infant, is not that critical. Get something that meets the safety requirements and will work for your lifestyle, and then forget about it.

A decision like who to hire to free up your time, or whether you can afford to hire someone at all, requires more consideration. The decision directly impacts whether you move closer to your ideal day or not, so you should seek to be more of a maximizer.

All decisions have a price. The trick to feeling less remorse and more satisfaction is to understand what decisions are actually important in your life, and what ones are really not that big of a deal.

Feeling grateful for what you have, not comparing yourself or your situation to others, and focusing on what’s important to you will help you do this more and more. The more often you are able to do this the happier and more content you’ll feel.

And, if that fails, go back to the teachings of Napoleon Hill on this matter. When you feel a negative thought taking over your mind telling you what you don’t want and questioning the choices you’ve made, take note and ask yourself what you DO want.Change your thoughts from what you don’t want to what you do want.

The choice is yours!

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