The Unfreedom of Choice

by Merel Nahuysen

The Unfreedom of Choice by Merel Nahuysen

Our ancestors, the cavemen, were lucky people. Yes, they probably worried every day about feeding themselves and protecting themselves and their families against sabre-toothed tigers or mammoths. They also were very busy building fires all the time, to stay warm. But there wasn’t much else that interfered with their daily lives.

I picture a typical Monday morning in the life of Larry, a random caveman, a bit like this:

“Honey, I’m hungry. I think I will chase another mammoth today.”
“That’s great darling. Oh look, there is one behind that rock!”
“Awesome sweetie, give me my spear and I will chase it right now. Or how about a sabre-toothed tiger for dinner?”
“Oh any of them will do darling…Bye-bye and be careful!”

Yeah. The beauty of simple life in a cave. The choice between hunting a mammoth or a tiger. Easy stuff.

Modern life nowadays though throws a lot of options our way. Too many if you ask me. While I was thinking about writing another blog, I had so many options to choose from. And the more I researched some of them online, the more topics I came across. How to choose?

In these days, everything seems to be available at your fingertips. Whatever you want, whatever you need, it is right there, online and smiling in your face. My friend Monica rang me the other day. She sounded stressed.
“I feel exhausted.”
“Why, sweetie?”
“I’ve been on my laptop again the whole day and I can’t make up my mind about where to go for the Easter break. Goa, Krabi, Cherating beach, Singapore or Bali again? I just can’t keep doing this!”

Bali again…? Jee. Although it sounded to me like a luxury problem, I did get Monica’s problem. We live in a time of choice overload and our inability to make up our minds, is impeding our freedom of choice…

Would you like to hear 5 simple ways to make your choices easier?

Here are my 5 tips on how to simplify the way you make choices:

1. Know what you want. If you know and understand your objectives, making a choice between having a big fat cupcake or a crispy apple for breakfast will be easier.
2. Decide that you just want to choose between A and B, rather than A, B, C etc until M. Hence, minimise your options.
3. Listen to your intuition. Mostly, deep inside you already know what you want.
4. Don’t procrastinate; feel confident about making a choice within a reasonable time limit.
5. When you’ve made your choice, don’t look back. Accept the brand of cereals you just bought and take it to the checkout counter.

Larry our caveman is a lucky guy. At least he didn’t have to ponder all day at the entrance of his cave, staring in the air and wondering which animal he should go and hunt today. He simply didn’t have many options and had to take what was available on that Monday morning when he felt hungry. Our world has changed though, and our choices have become abundant. We can learn though, from Larry. Simple life. Trading places? Perhaps. For one day…

Merel Nahuysen
Founder and Coach at Mind n Matter Coaching

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