Overwhelmed by choice

I was standing in the cheese section at the supermarket last Sunday trying to decide what cheese to buy to go on top of my homemade pizza. It’s a decision I’ve had to make many times before but this time I couldn’t decide. I stood there for at least three minutes running my eyes up and down the different packaging, comparing prices, and trying to remember the difference in taste between cheddar, mozzarella and a cheddar and mozzarella blend – which one did I enjoy most?

It all felt too hard so I called my boyfriend, who was doing the same thing in another aisle, to come and decide for me. I can’t even remember which one he chose, but it didn’t even matter because I barely tasted my pizza. I was working late trying to decide what keywords I wanted my business to rank for, so I shoved it down while I worked.

The next day at the gym my personal trainer asked what workout I wanted to do and I told him to decide for me, I was tired of making choices. He laughed but I was being serious. Over the last few months, I’ve been overwhelmed by choice: Which friend do I stay with in London? Which nail polish do I want on my nails? Which magazines to pitch my pieces to? Which types of clients should I market my business to?

I’ve always been able to make choices, even the big and important ones.

Being able to make choices has always been something I’ve prided myself on. But running a business has changed me. Every day I find myself with a range of options and I have to make decisions without really knowing the consequences. I have no one I can turn to and say “what do you think?” I just have to do what I think is right and hope for the best. No one tells you how tiring making choices as a business owner can be. And while my business is going gangbusters as a result, my ability to make decisions in my personal life have taken a backseat.

And I know I’m not alone in this.

Research shows too many choices can exhaust us, make us unhappy and can even lead us to stop making choices altogether – picture me standing in the cheese section. I can find research that talks about how you need to reduce choice to be more productive and creative at work, and how you need to spend time considering all features in your decision when buying a product. But I can’t seem to find research that helps people, like you and me, navigate the overwhelming amount of choices we have to make every day about our work, relationships, side-hustle and so on.

Is it OK if after a long day at work I can’t decide on a type of cheese?

In some ways, I think it’s great our personal and professional lives are so blurred because I believe your work should be an extension of you, not something you have to do for 40 hours a week. But I don’t think my brain has caught up yet. With my work and life becoming more blurred each week, I’m not sure how I am going to handle things like choice fatigue. Looks like my boyfriend will be making tough decisions at the supermarket for the both of us for a little while.

What do you think? Is it OK if we let others make choices for us? Do you feel overwhelmed by choice too?

Featured image from Pexels.

Hi, I’m Rachel
I support multi-passionate business owners to create aligned, ethical and profitable online businesses.