Why We Crave Choices

I don’t go to the grocery store often. But when I do, I must admit I’m absolutely overwhelmed. When did picking out Oreo’s become a complex decision making process?

Psychology tells us there is an inverse relationship between the number of choices presented and the level of satisfaction felt about whatever final choice or decision is made. In other words, people are convinced options make them happier when, in fact, options have the opposite effect entirely.

Strange, huh? Nevertheless, it’s true.

My quick excursion to replenish cookies turns into a research project to ensure I buy the right brand at the right price in the right quantity that supports the right cause. (I know you know what I’m talking about. I promise you I’m not making this up!)

DECISIONS ARE A GIFT FROM GOD

One of the characteristics unique to humans is the ability make decisions. Whether good or bad, the ability to decide is one of the unique gifts that God gave to you and me at the moment of our creation. There are some things in life you don't get to choose like how tall you are, the color of your hair and eyes, and even the place you are born. There are even more things you do get to choose like what you eat, who you marry, and what you study in school.

I don't believe the Creator empowered you to make decisions as some cosmic joke. I believe it's because He wants you to have the adventure of your life—one that results in greater awareness of who you are and the unique gift you can give to the world. When you are courageous enough to choose between the options in front of you, you get to shape your world and how you interact with it.

Choices facilitate the journey you take and the life you live. That’s why making decisions is important. How you choose to spend your days determines how you spend your life. And when you are looking back on your time on earth, you want to be proud of the courage you had to say yes—even when it scared you to death.

NO DECISION IS EVER WASTED

The question I often get from students (and even some adults) is, “What if I make a bad decision?” My answer is always the same, “No decision is ever wasted.” The goal of life is to experience the fullness and abundance of what it means to be fully alive. You can’t do that if your stomach is all in knots while you sit in the corner and worry about making the wrong decision.

I tell students not to worry about making the wrong decision. I only tell them to worry when they can't decide. When you find it’s impossible to choose, then you know you have a clarity problem rather than a choices problem.

The reason why I get paralyzed looking for Oreo's at the grocery story is I don't know what I want. If I entered the story knowing what brand, quantity, and type, then I only have one option rather than many options. That doesn’t mean there should be fewer options on the shelves. It does mean that when you know what you want, you will find it exactly where you need it to be.

Don’t believe me? Think about the last time you bought a car. You were sure that the one you purchased was a unique color and configuration. But the second you drove it off the lot, you passed 10 of the same color and configuration on the way home. Am I right?

CRAVING, CREATIVITY, AND CLARITY

It all starts with your mind and your thinking. You crave choices because you have the creative power to chip away at your soul until you recognize the divine design that is already within you; it’s just tucked away waiting for you to want it bad enough to search for it. And how do you search for it? By making decisions which will ultimately lead you to it.

So how do you overcome the paralyzing effect choices can have on you? Let me suggest four ways:

1.     Write down what you want to accomplish and who you want to be in 90 days.

If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll never know if you’re making the best decision.

2.     Ask someone you trust to confirm what you think you see in yourself to be true.

Sometimes you can be blind to things that are clear to others.

3.     Determine whether a choice is going to move you closer or farther away from your goals.

The secret is you must know where you’re headed.

4.     Choose the option that will lead to personal growth and discovery.

When you come to a fork in the road, the one that scares you the most is usually the one that will teach you the most about yourself.

There is usually only one right decision in every moment. It doesn’t mean you will always say yes to that decision. But it does mean you must let go of the illusion of control and allow yourself to accept the adventure that is before you. It’s the only path to self-discovery—and the satisfaction and fulfillment you desire are at the end of that discovery process.

I'm convinced we crave choices because that's how personal growth was designed to work from the very beginning. Our drive, impulses, desires, and passion are a compass which points us in the right direction.

Make the decision you need to make. Don’t get distracted by the choices in front of you, and never let go of the clarity tucked away inside the dreams you have for your life. Those are the clues that will lead you down the path you were meant to go. All you have to do is say yes.

CHALLENGE: What choices are you avoiding? Why? How can you find the clarity you need to know the right choice to make? Will you say yes to the adventure right in front of you called life?