August 2022

Options Overwhelm

I remember as a kid in Brooklyn, NY, my mother would give me money and told me to go to the deli and pick up a pound of ham. I’d go, ask for a pound of ham, they sliced it, wrapped it, and I was on my way back home. Very easy, nothing to think about, no problem.

Not many NY deli’s in Apex, North Carolina so you have to get your cold cuts at the grocery store. Walk up and ask for a pound of ham there. First question, what type of ham? Boiled ham, deluxe ham, Virginia ham, Maple Glazed Honey ham, rosemary & sun dried tomato ham? I looked and there are over 30 types of ham you can order. 

Second question, Boar’s Head or house brand? Back in Brooklyn, there was only one choice, Boar’s Head. Question three, sliced thick, thin or shaved? Then they give you a sample to see if that will work for you. And that’s just ham. You’ll go through the same process for turkey, bologna, salami and cheese. An endless array of options.

There is nothing wrong with having options. If you have a young child and you tell them what to wear in the morning, they may give you a hard time, “I don’t want to wear that!” But if you give them a choice of the green outfit or the brown outfit, they’ll pick one and be on their way. Choice is good. Too many options, not so much. 

Why, because you get overwhelmed. So many choices and what if I pick wrong. How do I pick? I need some time. What you may end up doing is not pick anything. What you don’t realize is not picking anything is also a choice. In my experience, picking nothing is not a good choice. Why? Because either nothing will happen, or someone else will make the choice for you.

Here’s a good process when you have overwhelming options.

  1. Eliminate Eliminate all the options you know that won’t work or you don’t like. I don’t like SmokeMaster Beechwood Smoked Black Forest Ham. Off the list.
  2. Limit limit the remaining options down to three. You may have certain decision criteria that will help here. Pick three that you think will work. Deluxe Ham, Tavern Ham, Virginia Ham.
  3. Select tier the remaining three into good, better, best. Select the best and you are done. If it doesn’t work out, you still have plan B and Plan C and you don’t have to go back to the well. The winner, the same one I used to eat as a kid, Deluxe Ham.

We’ve been talking ham but this works in real life situations. Job search, moving to a new city, taking the right class or course, buying a car, etc. What really helps is if you really know what you want. If you know that, you can go straight to Select. But it would be a good idea to go through Limit so you still have a backup.

The main thing to remember, too many options will overwhelm you and weigh you down. It will also hinder your ability to make good decisions.. Go through the process of Eliminate, Limit, Select for a much better decision making process.


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