Why is it that we feel trapped even when we are not? The problem I have been dealing with lately is having too many choices. My whole life I have been under constraint. I have had a limited amount of time or limited funds or even a limited area to work in. By adding in all those constraints I was able to make the best decision I could out of a very small pool. But what happens when you take away limitations?
This is an idea that many people do not think about. Having virtually unlimited options is a terrifying experience. Unlike those school projects that ask you where you would want to live if you had all the money and time in the world, this is reality. And while my options are not that unlimited, they are a huge step up from my last experience.
Let me give you an illustration. When I bought my first house I was under a time crunch. I had to stay within the city I worked, had to get a house with a very small budget, and also had to do it all within a month. Whew! I did the best I could and it worked out okay, but this time around things are different.
I have a job that is more portable. I can stay in town if I want to, but I also can choose to move elsewhere. I also have a long time to look. Plus my budget is much bigger. All these changes mean I get to think of things I have never considered before.
What style of house do I like? Do I want to live in the city or in the country? Do I want an old home or a new one? Do I want a fixer upper or something that is ready to go?
It is not just about houses that these kinds of questions come up. Maybe you are looking for a new job. Maybe you are planning on moving. Maybe you are considering dating or marriage. Too many choices can be just as bad, if not worse, than too few. Making the best you can out of what you have is one thing, but what happens when you are actually in control?
Well, here are a few ways to help you make the right choice:
1. Narrow the field – The first thing you should do is to narrow your choices. Throw out the obvious nos. If you have a large selection, toss out the maybes too. Then just look at your ‘yes’ possibilities. If you can, rank them from best to worst in categories like time, price, color, etc. You may find it easier to see which choice is really for you.
2. Write it down – Sometimes we get overwhelmed because we do not know what we really want. Write down your ‘must haves’ and your ‘would likes’. By having something down on paper you can make more informed choices and not end up just choosing at random something that you do not really want.
3. Set a time limit –Even if you feel like your time is unlimited it is a good idea to set a deadline. Deadlines, even self-enforced ones, help you to stay on task and move forward. Without a deadline you could be looking at your choices forever.
When you have a lot of deadlines it can be overwhelming. Cut it into manageable pieces and set a time limit so that you can make a wise choice.
Ken holds a master’s in business leadership from Upper Iowa University and multiple bachelor degrees from Grand View College. As president of morningsidenannies.com, Ken’s focus is helping Houston-based parents find the right childcare provider for their family. When he isn’t working, he enjoys spending time with his three children and his wife.