Years ago as a new mom, I remember how overwhelmed I felt with all of the options of things to buy for a baby. As my kids got older, picking something as seemingly simple as a sippy cup was hard. Too many choices can be problematic, and it can be hard to know how to make decisions easy in a world full of options.
The problem of too many options
In our consumer culture, we are surrounded by a plethora of options for almost anything we could need or want. This can lead to some challenges including:
- Stress from trying to pick the ‘right’ thing
- Comparison and judgment
We live in a world where we are overwhelmed with options. Nothing feels simple anymore. We have to make so many decisions every day due to how many choices we have for everything.
Living simply in a culture focused on consumerism can feel like a tough task. We’re constantly bombarded with advertising messages telling us we need the product they’re selling.
Add to that the opinions and reviews from other people, and it’s easy to go into information overload, making it even more difficult to make a decision. There are all the pros and cons to consider, and there are just so many options to choose from.
Sometimes, I can’t help but be a bit jealous of what it was like for the generation before ours. There weren’t nearly as many options for things. Granted we have much better car seats than they did. 🙂
Back then people were blissfully unaware of all of the strong opinions of others, unless people actually said them out loud. There weren’t reviews, and social media sharing the thoughts and feelings of every mom and expert out there.
Moms today face an even greater sense of overwhelm in this information age. It also creates pressure to try and get everything right and make the best selections.
2) Stress from trying to pick the ‘right’ thing
Trying to pick just the right thing is exhausting. We are inundated with opinions and feel stressed trying to make the best choices for ourselves and our kids.
I remember when I was pregnant with our first child. I spent entirely too many hours on BabyCenter, cloth diapering sites, and Amazon. The number of options for cloth diapers alone seemed like an insurmountable amount of information to review.
I’d entered this new territory, and felt like the learning curve for just about everything was huge, because it was all new. Each thing brought with it so many items to choose from, and decisions I needed to make.
This wasn’t going to be just about me anymore either. Now I had to consider my child, and the way all of these decisions would be impacting her. Talk about stress.
You’ll find a myriad of options and very strong opinions on anything from, which book to follow for parenting and sleep schedules, to what type of diapers are best, to which teething necklaces and essential oils should or should not be used for babies.
There are also strong feelings on which baby gear is essential, and which brands are best.
Becoming a new parent can feel like a lot of pressure in and of itself, but the idea that there is an exact right answer to all of these questions is even more overwhelming.
These are all decisions to be made with having a new baby, but this pattern continues as kids get older too, and you’re considering other things for them.
These options aren’t just for babies and kids either. There are products for moms, dads, families, pets, and homes. Want to buy mascara? There are one million options. Need a new multipurpose cleaner? 200 options. Want to paint a room in your house? Limitless options. The list literally goes on and on.
None of it feels simple or easy. It’s tiring. It’s overwhelming. Decision fatigue is a real thing.
3) Comparison and judgment
The idea that there is a ‘right’ answer for everyone to all of these options, can cause another set of unintended consequences. It induces guilt (for when you’ve made the ‘wrong’ choice), and creates a situation where we begin to compare and judge each other.
People on the internet have a way of expressing their feelings that can make the reader feel as though they’ve permanently damaged their child if they choose the wrong option.
If you’ve taken a step into the world of essential oils, it is clear there are some very strong feelings on which brand is best. This is true of many products. Mamas have strong feelings about what is good and bad for their kids.
It’s hard to find judgment-free zones where people support various points of view. In case you weren’t already intimidated enough at the thought of bringing a child into the world, others opinions are now making you second guess your gut instincts.
The truth is, for so many of these things there is no right answer.
How to make decisions in a world full of options:
- Make sure you want it
- Plan ahead
- Set a time limit
- Limit your options
- Practice, practice, practice
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1) Make sure you want it
Ask yourself WHY you want this thing. Is it something you really want or need? Give yourself 24 hours to consider if you are sure this thing will benefit your life, and not become clutter.
It’s easy to get sucked into advertising claims, or even your friend’s opinions on products. Don’t give in to pressure or a whim feeling like you want or need it. Also, don’t shop online when you are deliriously tired.
Give yourself time so you can think clearly. If after 24 hours you decide you don’t want it, then you’re already done. Decision made.
2) Plan ahead
Trying to make a decision when you are under a time crunch makes it even more overwhelming. People don’t tend to make the best decisions when they are under stress.
To decrease the overwhelm, plan ahead when possible. For something like back to school shopping, start thinking about what you will need to buy for clothes and supplies at the beginning of the summer. Same goes for buying gifts for the holidays. Planning ahead makes it less stressful.
The options will feel less challenging when you have given it some thought ahead of time, and created a plan before you head out to a store. Stick to your list, and don’t let yourself get overwhelmed by options you didn’t even plan on purchasing in the first place.
3) Set a time limit
In order to make decisions in a world full of options, you should consider setting a time limit. I can spend entirely too much time researching options in order to try and pick the best one for the lowest price.
In my attempts to balance simplicity with frugality, I’ve had to create self-imposed limits on how much time I spend researching or looking for deals.
I don’t want to waste too much time pouring over the options and other people’s opinions. Set a limit for yourself if this is a temptation for you too. It will force you to make a decision.
4) Limit your options
Often we think of all the overwhelming options and selections when we go shopping, either online or in a store. And while that is the case, it can also be true that we’ve purchased so many things that our homes now resemble stores.
That means that we have to face making decisions not only when we go out, but also constantly within our own homes. Once you work through decluttering your home, you will have limited your options, and thereby your choices within your home.
If you haven’t decluttered yet, one place where you will notice a big difference is in your closet. To minimize your wardrobe, go through all of your clothes systematically, and take out the pieces you don’t like or won’t wear.
When you’re done, you’ll have created a confidence-inspiring wardrobe. You’ll find a new sense of freedom in having fewer options to choose from, and with them all being pieces that you love.
5) Practice, practice, practice
With just about anything as you continue to practice, it will get easier. As you practice being decisive, it gets easier to continue to be decisive. You’ll find you’re able to make decisions more quickly.
Often with decluttering, people are overwhelmed at the sheer number of decisions they have to make. I encourage people to start in the easiest room or area, and end with the most difficult.
You build up your decision-making muscles as you go through the process. The same is true when you are trying to make decisions in a world full of too many options.
Your confidence will increase as you become quicker and more decisive. Trust your gut, and don’t allow yourself to be overly swayed by other’s opinions and advertising claims.
As you practice making decisions, you’ll get quicker, and find you have more time left to spend on things that are more important to you.
Be kind when sharing your opinions
In a loud world full of options and opinions, choose to be part of the solution and not the problem. If you feel the need to share your opinions, do so in a kind and gentle way.
Be a community builder, and support and encourage others even if they don’t make all the same choices you do. Let go of perfectionism in your own life, and allow others that same freedom too.
Learn to be decisive, and don’t let decision fatigue set in. Use these 5 tips to help you make decisions in a world full of options.