Limitless Options: What is the Tipping Point?

“Freedom and autonomy are critical to our well being and choice is critical to freedom and autonomy. Nonetheless, though modern Americans have more choice than any group of people ever has before, and thus, presumably, more freedom and autonomy, we don’t seem to be benefiting from it psychologically.” Barry SchwartzThe Paradox of Choice

Have you ever stood in a closet full of clothes thinking, “I have nothing to wear” or sat down to watch TV, only to find after scrolling through hundreds of options, nothing seems interesting?

We have become inundated with options in all aspects of daily life.

When I was a kid, this was the menu at Taco Bell.

There were six items, SIX! Now they have over ten kinds of tacos, and the online menu is divided into categories.

How much time have you spent (wasted) trying to pick out paint, jeans, or coffee? What about time going from store to store or website to website, trying to find the best deal? How much is your time worth?

These seemingly limitless options often leave me paralyzed, decision fatigue wears me down, and I either postpone making a decision or question the choice I made, wondering if it was the right one.

Having options is not a bad thing, it’s wonderful. However, there seems to be a tipping point. At some point being bored too few choices becomes overwhelming with too many.

The business world is beginning to discover fewer options actually increases sales. It also decreases consulting time for things like insurance plans and home building (e.g., flooring, cabinets, upgrades, etc.). However, it may take time for this concept to be embraced.

So, while you might not be able to control the endless combinations of coffee, jeans, or paint colors, you can manage your options at home.

A great place to start is your closet, pantry, or medicine cabinet. When I began to limit my choices, I found that I was not only saving time, I was saving my sanity.

Here are a few ways you eliminate decision fatigue at home:
1. eliminate duplicates
2. use the one-in and one-out rule (get rid of or use up one thing before you bring in another)
3. get rid of stuff you don’t use and stop buying it
4. don’t buy items to try them out (e.g., items “seen on TV”) – I promise you will be fine without it!

Challenge yourself. Find your sweet spot between too much and not enough, and enjoy the time and sanity you save.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment or send me an email at

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Until next time, be well.

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