“More” is a four letter word

I got called-out in the cheese aisle the other day.

I was doing my usual Trader Joe’s run and had a cart full of groceries when I decided to swing by the cheese section for nothing in particular.

I’m not quite sure how long I was standing there, but it was apparently long enough for someone (who didn’t even work there) to notice and decide it was time to say something.

“Um, so you’ve been staring at the cheese for a long time…”

Should I tell him what has actually been going through my head? Like if I get fresh Mozzarella we can make Caprese salads, but the Feta looks good too and we could make Greek salads and pita sandwiches. But then I need to go get the other ingredients for that. Pass. What about the Manchego. I love that on crackers, but I should really cut back on the snacking. The Gouda could be good on sandwiches, but I don’t remember if I like Gouda. Ok, Mozzarella it is… but oh, wait. It’s $8 bucks for just this little container…

“Yeah, haha. Lots of choices,” I said.

I figured this simple response would save this poor guy from his daily dose of crazy.

We chatted for a few minutes, had a laugh about analysis paralysis, and went on our ways. But I couldn’t help but think about what had just happened to me in that cheese aisle.

Overwhelmed by choices, I drove myself nuts for a brief period before ultimately making a decision that, in the end, didn’t even make me happy. Should I have gotten something else? Nothing at all?

It’s obviously silly to talk about this in the context of cheese but it’s a symptom of what we do to ourselves (or what is done to us depending on how you want to look at it) in all aspects of life.

The more options we have, the less satisfied we are with what we ultimately pick.

Endless choices make us miserable. We’re rarely satisfied with what we choose after going through rounds of the “what ifs”. We’ve come to expect buyer’s remorse for most big purchases (electronics, cars, houses, etc.) that used to be occasions for celebration.

We’re inundated with “options” all the time. It’s become our culture and the expectation that more choices = a privilege. But it’s not a privilege, it’s a burden. It’s immeasurably draining and makes us less satisfied with things that are otherwise terrific.

I saw a car commercial the other day that didn’t advertise any real benefits about the car itself. Instead, it focused on one thing: lots of “available options”. They didn’t mention what any of the options were, specifically. Or even if you’d get the any of them included in the advertised price (probably not). All the ad was selling was the notion or the dream that there were lots of options you could potentially choose. That’s it. It didn’t even have to be a car commercial. It cracked me up.

This age of “options” isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. So what can you do to avoid analysis paralysis, buyers remorse and the rest of the baggage that comes along with too many choices?

  1. Learn to enjoy things for what they are instead of focusing on what they’re not.
  2. Have a game plan when you hit the cheese aisle.

I’m Joelle Steiniger and I’m Co-Founder of HookFeed and Co-Host of The Rocketship Podcast. Keep up with me on Twitter: @JoelleSteiniger