What to Do When There are Too Many Options

Choose Your Own Adventure

Choose Your Own Adventure

I currently have 47 podcasts saved to my Google Play. 47! That’s less than I thought I had on there, but still a ridiculous amount. Especially when I look at the amount of episodes many have recorded. Hundreds!

This realization has left me feeling overwhelmed. I’ll never listen to all of those. I don’t have the time. I don’t even think that much time exists. Especially because they keep recording new episodes. And I can’t listen to podcasts for the rest of my life. I also have audiobooks to listen to. And good ol’ fashioned music. Plus I like to read and do other things in which listening to something else would really get in the way.

Then, I start to look at all the books I want to read. And music I want to listen to. And movies I want to watch. And places I want to go. And things I want to do… I’m on the verge of nervous breakdown, Is a “nervous breakdown” even a thing anymore? We probably have a clinical diagnosis for that now, which I should know, since I clinically diagnose, but there’s too much there to even keep up on!

Okay, I’m taking a deep breath.

The amount of information and options out there these days, and access to it, is astronomical. There’s actually a term for this now “choice overload.” Access to too many choices can lead to anxiety and depression.

So many books, so little time

So many books, so little time

I’m already someone who wants to know and experience everything that exists. I probably have FOMO to a dangerous degree. The more access I have to “everything,” the more difficult it can become for me to choose. I don’t want to choose only one type of food for dinner; I want tapas, a buffet, or potluck every single night. I don’t want to pick only one location for vacation: I want to traverse the entire world. I don’t want a capsule wardrobe; I want Sabrina the Teenage Witch’s magic closet (Totally dating myself here.).

I’m also a researcher so I can get sucked in for hours trying to figure out the best plan, price, or way to get everything I want, which leaves me with even less time to experience “everything.”

Since I don’t want to miss out and I want to be mentally healthy, I’ve had to set up some guidelines to reign me in when I approach the brink of overwhelm:

I Practice Mindfulness

I notice how I’m feeling, what I’m thinking, what’s around me. I get as present as I can, fully experiencing the moment. When I’m able to be completely present, I more easily make a choice, accept that choice, and happily move on.

I Remind Myself of “Truths”

Sometimes I have to give myself pep talks. “There aren’t any bad choices.” “I can always try that another time.” “Just pick something, anything!” “Maybe reincarnation exists and I have more lifetimes than I realize.”

When in doubt, always choose ice cream

When in doubt, always choose ice cream

I Flip a Coin

Throw a dart. Choose from a jar. Or some other version of letting the powers that be decide. I figure out a neutral way to make a choice and just go with it. This saves me time, energy, and usually money, even if I have to pay a little more to begin with. I can always make a different choice later if I want to.

I Minimize

I’ve really been making this a priority lately. Owning less stuff creates more space, physically, mentally, and emotionally. And leads to easier decision making. It isn’t just stuff either. I try to let go of anything that doesn’t feed my soul. People. Experiences. Work projects. When I realize a podcast sucks, I delete it from my list. I don’t care who says it’s amazing. If I’m not into a book within the first couple chapters, sayanora.

I Do What I Have To

I do believe that everything in life is ultimately a choice, but I also recognize that not all choices are created equally. There are just some things in life that aren’t much of a good time. Sometimes we have to do things that are boring or uncomfortable. I’m mindful that most things that are worthwhile still have parts we aren’t super into. I have zero desire to wash dishes or sweep the floor, but I want a clean and comfortable home. I find most of the administrative tasks in my business snooze worthy, but I have to do them to keep doing what I love. So I choose to do them with as much enthusiasm as I can muster. This is where the podcasts come in handy. Or Dateline. I can’t remember the last time I did the dishes without watching Dateline. I can also choose to outsource tasks to someone else.

Of course, all of this is a process. I still get overwhelmed. I still don’t want to let go of things I know I need to. I still don’t want to make the wrong choice. I still want to do, have, and be everything. But it’s becoming easier and my life is far richer than it was when I was overwhelmed by the choices.