How many times have you looked into your closet, stared at 20 different types of pants and 40 different tops, and said, “I have nothing to wear.” Some of those pants and shirts may even have had tags on them.Or, have you ever opened up your fridge and looked at your freezer—both packed with enough food to make breakfast, lunch, and dinner—and said, “I have nothing to eat.”
What about Netflix? With thousands of options to choose from, many of us still can’t find something to watch.
Why, when we have so many choices, do we have trouble just picking one? We’ve become paralyzed by the idea of making a decision. Will it be the right one? This is called Choice Overload or Paradox of Choice.
When we face too many choices, we can feel anxious. According to a study by Herbert Simon, the curse of too many options can be broken down into two types of decision-makers:
Satisficers: People who would rather make an “ok decision” than the perfect decision. These individuals spend some time considering their options, and they tend to be more satisfied with their choice because they don’t consider all the available information.
Satisficers settle for an option that’s “good enough” and move on.
Maximizers: These are people who want to make the best possible decision. They can’t choose until they’ve deeply examined every possible option.
Maximizers will take their time and make sure they are 100% satisfied with the decision.
Don’t worry, I’m not making you decide which decision-maker you are, but I’m sure you can see yourself in one of these two. But by giving you only two options, it was easy to make a decision on which one you could be. It was either Satisficer or Maximizer.
How to Combat Choice Overload and Become a Better Decision Maker
In his book “The Paradox of Choice,” Schwartz outlines the steps of decision making:
- Figure out your goals.
- Evaluate the importance of each goal.
- Array the options according to how well they meet each goal.
- Evaluate how likely each of the options is to meet your goals.
- Pick the winning option.
I’m not suggesting you break down every decision like this; that’s too much effort for small, everyday choices. For example, I don’t think you need to do this when figuring out which pasta sauce you are looking to buy.
However, if you are looking to make an important decision—for example, you are implementing software for your company (had to use this as an example, we are a software company lol)—you should start by figuring out what goals you are trying to achieve. Next, see what features will help you achieve those goals.
Too many times, companies will list all their features on a product, but how many of those features do you really care about? Honestly, if I see a laundry list of features, I look at the top two, then feel overwhelmed and stop looking.
While researching a product, be upfront with the rep you are speaking with. Let them know what YOU care about; this will avoid product dump and it will actually make the evaluation process much smoother for both parties. Now, the rep can focus on just the features you want to see and you get to see what you were looking for. You’ll save time, but most importantly, you’ll make the right decision. Don’t settle for “good enough.”
If you’re interested in learning more about how to become a better decision maker, please check out the following:
- Barry Schwartz “The Paradox of Choice”: TED Talk video
- Having trouble on what to wear: Create a Capsule Wardrobe
- Trying to Improve your conversation with customers: Shopify put together a helpful article “How to Overcome Choice Paralysis to Improve Conversion”
- Need help choosing what to watch on Netflix: here are 153 Best Netflix Shows and Series to Watch on Netflix
- Bonus Article - How the paradox of choice keeps you scrolling through Netflix
Interested in future-proofing your company? Check out BQE CORE to find out more on how we can help your company with an all-in-one system designed to manage projects and budgets, billable hours and invoices, and everything you need to speed up productivity while increasing profitability for your firm.