The Challenge of Choice

Updated: Mar 6, 2021

Choices. Options. Life is full of them.


Before I properly start this, I want to acknowledge the fact that I am aware that I am privileged to have so many choices in life and that there are many others across the globe who don't. However, that does not take away from the challenges we still face from these choices.


As we grow up, the choices we make become more meaningful. Our options broaden. However, with this where is often a great weight attached to the choices we make and the paths we are considering taking. They produce endless pros and cons lists, sleepless nights and heightened anxiety. What's more, we don't always have the security that the choices we make are the right ones.


It's all one big gamble with your life. I know that sounds extreme, but in some cases it is. Yes, we have smaller, less significant choices like what we're going to have for breakfast, or which bath bomb to use. But when it comes to what degree to choose, career path, where to buy a house, these are all life changing decisions that will ultimately map out the rest of your life.


Like many people, I find it difficult to truly map out how I want my life to look. Yes I have a vague idea, but when it comes to choosing a career path for example, there are that many new jobs being created, it can be become stressful to fully know what it is you want to do. Along with this, some careers will have extremely niche requirements or degrees, meaning people will study that specific degree to then enter the job and might not even enjoy it! It's a risk we have to take at some point, but is it worth it?


We are asked at 18 to make the life changing decision on how we want to carry on with our life. Going to University? What are you going to study? Is there a course that this job will help you get? Do an apprenticeship? What if I hate the course? Go into full time work? Am I going to enjoy this?


At 18, while we do have life experience, do we truly know what we want? Bring it further back to 16 and choosing A-Levels. After studying for a year, you may decide you want to become a doctor but didn't study any sciences, that is going to make it extremely difficult to get onto a medical degree. I thought I knew the four that I wanted to do, however I have ended up changing from History to English Language. I am lucky that I can change the course because I didn't enjoy it with basically no risks. However apply that to changing a course at University and starting from scratch, and that's even more student debt you now owe and another year or two you can't get back.


While having choice is generally a good thing, are we presented with too many different routes? The more choices we have to decide from, the longer we take to ponder over which one is the 'right' one. We waste so much time trying to make choices which we think would benefit us most that by the time we've finally decided we begin to regret that choice and wonder about what could have been. With time becoming more and more precious as our lives become busier and busier, the choices we have to make become more stressful, especially if there is a tie constraint on this choice.


There are many different experiments that have been done when it comes to the difficulty of choice, one of the most famous ones being the Jam Experiment.



This study was conducted in 2000 and researches found that when less options were shown, more people purchased the jam.


There's been many studies on this, one of the most famous being "The Paradox of Choice" by Barry Schwartz who gave a famous Ted Talk which you can watch here and he wrote a book on it which you can find at *WHSmiths, *Waterstones, and *Amazon.


While generally more choice does equal to more freedom, having more choices for one outcome generally leads to more confusion and unhappiness.


What are your thoughts?


Have a great day,

Ella.

 

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