The Cult of Choice

Last week I had a mental meltdown getting a cup of coffee. I was at a client’s office, in their kitchen, searching for a needed cuppa joe. What I found was one of those one-cup systems that made me choose from a vast array of coffee, tea, hot chocolate and something called “chai” which I thought was a furry plant from the 80’s. I went into brain lock and had to be rescued by a buddy who said: “Just pick one. They all taste the same anyway like lousy instant coffee.”

I am constantly confronted and confounded by what I have dubbed “The Cult of Choice.” I don’t know when this started but it seems like every simple life act requires endless nuanced decisions.

222Marketeers probably call this “targeted marketing toward market segments” or some such. For me the result is decision-fatigue. When I spend all my time and mental energy deciding trivial issues like my morning java, I have little left for critical decisions. I may spend five minutes determining the very best choice of font in my email then have no time left to figure out reasonable delivery dates on proposals. Not good.

To avoid the cult of choice and the resulting decision fatigue, I’ve created some simple heuristics to use when endless choices get in my way:

  • Are the differences in products meaningful for me? If not, just pick one.
  • Do they cost the same? If not always go with the cheapest (yes I am a cheap person)
  • Will one choice save time for me? Grab it.

Do you have rules that help you avoid decision fatigue? If so, I’d love to grow my list! Share them with me.

By the way, “chai” is fancy for tea, “chia” is the furry plant. This is helpful to know…