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The Paradox of Choice

Updated: Jan 8, 2021

Have you ever been to a restaurant with a larger than average menu?

How did you feel as you made your selection?

If you’re like me, your emotions probably ranged from wonder to excitement to total confusion! And then ultimately, as your chosen dish arrives, to a nagging regret that perhaps something else would have been better...

supermarket shelves displaying many different types of milk
Why is it so difficult to choose?

We face more choices than ever before

This phenomenon of ever greater choice is everywhere in our lives from the cocktail bar that serves 500 different cocktails to the hugely popular Tinder dating app with an infinite number of potential partners. What we’re taught to believe is that ever greater choice will lead to ever greater satisfaction.. that the more options we have the more likely we are to find something or someone we really love.

But the reality is that it doesn’t seem to work like that...

someone swipes left on the 'Tinder' online dating app on their mobile phone to reject one person and reveal a new person's profile
Keep on swiping...

More choice may make us less happy

In fact it seems that the more choice we have, not only are we less able to decide, but we’re less satisfied with whatever we ultimately choose.

Until relatively recently most people knew what job they would be doing for their whole life by the age of 14. Some, even from the day they were born. Now people have almost infinite choice and end up in very good jobs by historical standards but they keep switching and they’re not happy.

The Paradox of Choice

Too much choice can make it harder to know who to settle down with and when..

This phenomenon is known as the Paradox of Choice, a concept developed by the Psychologist Barry Schwartz.

Start with what you're buying, not what they're selling!

When people come to me confused about what they want from life this paradox of choice is often a part of the cause. Rather than looking outwards at our options we can learn to listen better to our needs and start by identifying what we actually want regardless of whether it is on the menu or not...

If you’re interested in exploring how this relates to your own experiences, send me a message now about your situation or go ahead and book the 30-minute 'taster' coaching session (on the 'Get Started' page).

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