When Having Too Much Choice is a Bad Thing

When Having Too Much Choice is a Bad Thing
They say variety is the spice of life. Why only have chocolate ice cream when you have vanilla, strawberry and baileys and roasted almond? In a culture where we are drifting away from a “standard” model and producing everything in all colours, shapes and sizes, we are faced with too much choice every single day. 

It’s easy when faced with choosing ice cream or a new couch, but a very different story when it comes time for us 20 somethings to make important life decisions. All of a sudden we are being faced with over 200 choices of ice cream, each with a different consequence and variables.

Sure, our 7 year old selves would tell us to taste them all but as we’ve grown up we realised that path only leads to regret, further indecision and one mother of a stomach ache. 

The Choice Conundrum 

Meet Molly. She’s 22. She lives with her parents in Faketownsville and has just finished a degree in mechanical engineering (side note: check out Molly breaking down those sexist career barriers. As Bey would say who run the world?) She is excited about finishing but is increasingly becoming stressed and anxious about the choice she now has to face. Molly can:

a) get an engineering job, move out of home and start moving up the career ladder while becoming financially independent.

b) move to London for a year where undoubtedly will fall in love with Prince Harry but would be behind in career as only able to list “bar bitch at Horse and Hound” on resume.

c) follow her hidden dream to start a baking empire (Molly’s Munchies) and take over the world one sweet treat at a time in Martha Stewart – esque style. Minus the prison time of course.

All of these options plus her family’s pressure to “make an informed decision” causes Molly have to complete breakdown, move to Zimbabwe with local Spanish Zitar player and become highly proficient in basket weaving.  Which let’s be honest isn’t really an ideal solution for anyone.

Have you found yourself in this situation, paralysed with the fear of having too many choices and making the wrong decision? Fears aside, here’s 3 helpful tips I try to adhere to which can make this mountain appear a little less daunting.

1. Some life decisions are permanent. Some are not. 

There are some things in life that once you tick the “yes” box, it is difficult to get out of. This list includes but is not limited to: marriage, children, buying a house, 10 year work contract and getting a tattoo. These decisions require a lot of thought and extensive pros and cons list while others are a little more flexible.

Decide you want to go to France for 6 months, learn the native tongue and eat frogs legs all day. You get  there, you realise you cannot roll your r’s, that fogs legs do NOT taste like chicken and Parisians are really as rude as people say they are. So after 5 weeks you come home. Aside from the airfare and the after taste of frog, no harm done. If you are finding it hard to make a decision, perhaps go with one that is easily reversible, or will not be the end of the world if it doesn’t work out. It will help you to make more confident decisions, without the pressure.

2. Go with your instinct. 

A study by some university somewhere shows that a human’s gut instinct is right about 75% of the time. That is a lot of percent. So when it comes to the process of decision making it’s time to ignore the well meaning advice of the 822 people who want to tell you what to do with your life and listen to the one person who is actually going to live it: you.

Does your mind keep going back to one particular option? Do you feel yourself justifying or defending a path that you feel strongly drawn to? Go with that. Your heart is trying to tell you something. That or it’s angina but hopefully you are too young for that just yet.

3. Create a win-win situation. 

Part of the problem with making big decisions is it turns into a “this or that” argument. I can either get married and settle down OR travel and be independent and responsibility free. These are polar opposites but it’s not uncommon for 20 somethings to desire both. Maybe a 6 month backpacking trip with your partner could be the best of both worlds? Travel combined with settling down into a solid relationship is what I call a win-win situation.

Have you been offered two kick ass jobs on different sides of the country and stressing out about which one to take? Are they both great jobs? Will they both provide a great starting point for your career? Are they both an opportunity to get away from the nest and see if you can fly? Yes. So does it really matter which one you choose? Create a win-win.

Have you been faced with too much choice in your twenties? Are you faced with a tricky choice at the moment? Which of my three tips do you think would help you the most? Let me know in the comments below!
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Much love and till later

Sez xx


  1. brittanyssp says:

    This is a great post. Completely agree, sometimes it seems like you have to figure it all out RIGHT NOW and it can be really stressful to figure out which path is the “right” one. I think #2 is something I really needed to hear right now.

    Also, as someone who married young- thank you for acknowledging that there can be compromise and that it isn’t marriage OR an exciting life :)

    • Sarah says:

      Yes the pressure to make perhaps the biggest decisions of our lives can seem so overwhelming, I’ve lost a lot of sleep to the battle! Glad you liked number #2 – that one is probably the top one I need to constantly remind myself of to!
      Re: married life you are most welcome! I am not in that space yet but my friends are now starting to head there and they definitely will not become boring married people :) thanks for reading xx

  2. Tim says:

    I have to disagree with #2 in some circumstances. For someone who relies strongly off of intuition and gut feelings, following your gut may be the best way to handle a situation. After all, the more you practice relying on intuition, the better you become at it. With that said though, if someone who relies heavily on fact-based analysis were to suddenly switch to going with their gut, the results would likely be catastrophic. If anything, our intuition is often driven by the facts we already know, so we’re not going with our gut as much as our brains.

    • Sarah says:

      Totally agree Tim, I think my gut instinct is built from a foundation of what my brain has recognized as situations which felt the best for me. I’m not a hugely spiritual person although I enjoy learning about it, I do tend to rely on the facts I know and the facts that have made me happy in the past. A really good point thanks so much :)

    • Sarah says:

      Why thank you my darling! This post has been stirring within me for a while as it’s something I’m really battling with at the moment so was a relief to get it out there. I just hope to provide others advice, and then hopefully listen to that advice myself! x

  3. Sarah Poppy says:

    I think that it is so important to trust your instinct. There are many times when I have ignored that gut feeling and I wish that I hadn’t. Some decisions have been minor like changing phones from an iPhone to a samsung galaxy s5 – easy to change back but I have learnt over time that gut instinct is so important. Great post.

    • Sarah says:

      Thanks Sarah, yes gut instinct is the one that I’ve really had to keep at the forefront of my mind. Your brain can tell you so many other things to rationalise your decision to go another way but you’re right you will more than likely always regret it. High five for going with your gut :) x

  4. Becca says:

    I have DEFINITELY experienced this. There are so many choices, so many jobs, so many places to travel, so many grad schools that it can be overwhelming trying to narrow down your options, never mind pick only one. I’ve spent years of my life paralyzed by the fear of making the wrong choice and ending up unhappy and broke and alone. However, looking back, I’ve never really regretted the choices I’ve made. I’ve made mistakes and learned from them, but I think the most damaging thing we can tell ourselves is that there’s only one right choice.

    • Sarah says:

      That is such a brave statement to remind ourselves there is not just one right choice :) A lot of the pressure is self enforced by our innate desire to get involved in more things and have 11 things on the go at once. It’s enough to make anyone tired! Glad you could relate! x

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