Having too many choices can stress us out sometimes. If that sounds weird to you keep reading to find out how choices can make us feel stressed and how to make the right decision.
If you log into Netflix, you will find more than 6,000 titles. Too many? If you decide to create an account on an online dating website, you will find more than 5 million other active users. How to choose? If you look for a shirt on Amazon, you will find countless options. What to do?
The pressure of making a decision when you are presented with plenty of options can be stressful. That’s weird for a Western culture where freedom of choice is the pillar of all our freedoms. We like to have plenty of choices but we are stressing about making the right choice. From the other side, we love having so many options because we think that will maximize our chances of finding the best fit and making the best decision. But when that time comes we are not sure if we are doing the right thing. When we have to make a decision, we become paralyzed and we can even avoid choosing at all.
Being overwhelmed with choices is an experience called “choice overload.” More than often, people tend to be regretful and more dissatisfied about the choice that they made if they were presented with plenty of choices.
First home buyers are so excited but fearful as well, afraid that they will not make the right choice, the right school district, neighborhood or right architectural style needs to be considered.
Choice overload often leads to dissatisfaction and regret. How do we feel when we are making that decision? Are we doubting our decision?
A recent study tracked cardiovascular responses from decision-makers. When people were about to make a decision, their heart beat harder and faster.
Participants in the study had to review online profiles and choose one profile from many options or to choose one profile from a few options. Researchers found that participants who had many options felt that they need to be invested in making the right decision. In that case, their hearts beat faster and harder than when they were presented with a few choices. However, their arteries also constricted which is a sign that they were not confident about the decision. When we are presented with many choices, making the right decision is more crucial but more unattainable as well. We have the same reaction when taking a test when we are completely unprepared or having a job interview when we know we lack the right qualifications.
It’s important to stress that even minor exposure to this type of cardiac activity can lead to long-term health consequences if they happen often and this is related to hypertension and some types of heart diseases.
Ironically, when we have a fear of not making the right decision that can lead to making the wrong choice.
What should we do about this? It’s important to put our choices into perspective. Many of our daily choices such as picking the color of your nails or what to eat for lunch is not that important in the long run. Even bigger choices such as taking a job can be changed. When you put your choices into perspective you are going to become less fearful about the world around you. When fear is gone you have a clear picture of what you want and what you don’t want. This can boost your confidence and help you make the right choice.