Making choices is like air – it’s everywhere and we don’t even realize it anymore until there isn’t any.
From the moment you receive a present of another day by opening your eyes first thing in the morning (or maybe for some graveyard shift workers, it might be in the middle of the night), you start making choices: hit a snooze button or get up; which clothing to put on; which silverware to use; which street to turn on; whether to greet strangers or not. If you are a person of a routine, you are choosing to stick to the routine you established.
You make choices nonstop up until you fall asleep – when to turn the light off and when to close your eyes.
Have you been in a situation where you and your friends are deciding where to go for lunch, and everyone says “I am not picky.” and no one wants to make a decision, including yourself? But you were also selfishly wishing “Please someone make a decision already!”?
We don’t even realize that we are burnt out from making choices constantly. It’s like going to a sandwich shop or an espresso stand. Menu, bread/cheese/condiments/meat/veggie/toasted or not/here or to go/bag or no bag/cookies/chips/soda?/cash or card?/a receipt, no receipt?
For a sandwich shop, I don’t specify. Overwhelmed with options, I just say “make it as you would make it for yourself”.
But, make no mistake. I still made my choice to let the store staff make their choice, while I still had hundreds of variations from their menu.
I had too many options, and I chose one that required me to make the fewerest choices.
But at least, I had options to choose from.
When options are taken away
What about when we don’t like any of the options, or worse, we have no options to choose from?
People want options even if they never need them
During the first global health crisis in early 2020’s, we were stripped of options we’d taken for granted. We couldn’t go anywhere. We couldn’t even go on the street for a walk. Suddenly people were having an urge to go pay for a haircut at a barber shop even though they’d cut their hair for years.
It’s a similar sensation we feel when we find something we want to buy at the store, but we decide not to buy it at that time. Maybe we decided it was out of our budget or we decided we didn’t need it. Or we might have even decided that we didn’t like it enough to spend money.
Then you go back to the same store and find out that the item is sold out and you can’t get it anymore. Then you start obsessing with the item you let it get away – even if you had decided that you didn’t even like it that much.
We never needed the barbershop, but we knew it was accessible if we chose to.
We didn’t want the item at the store but it was there if we changed our mind.
When those options were taken away, our quality of life seems less than when we had choices to have things we never needed nor wanted.
When life deals only one card
When you are given no other choice, you wish for at least one other option that is less bad, but it’s not there.
Many times, in modern society with wealth distribution completely out of whack, many people are dealt one-card choice due to lack of money.
Money is something you will need a lot of, especially when you lose options physically.
Reason I exercise
I tell people, that I am a couch potato and happy on a couch, not going anywhere all day. But I am also happy to go hiking if someone asks me to join them.
I exercise because I want this option to be available to me forever. I don’t want to become a person who sits on the couch because I don’t have a choice.
I want to be able to choose to sit on the couch when I want to. Not because I have to.
I exercise to keep my options open. I am very well aware that no matter how much I keep up with my regular Essentrics exercises, there could be a time when I am dealt with only one card. I am just working on improving my odds. That’s all I could do. That’s better than doing nothing, I believe.
“Choose your hard” – Nicole Walters
Nicole Walters, entrepreneur, business consultant, and author, has repeatedly said, “Choose Your Hard”. She has a whole chapter titled with this in her debut and New York Times best-seller book Nothing Is Missing.
That’s a hard chapter for me to read, especially as a woman. I won’t share any of the content, but the gist is that no matter what choices you make, you are choosing what kind of hard things you are going to do.
Life is hard. Every choice gives you a degree of hard.
Earning money is hard but so is not having any.
Waking up early daily is hard. So is being unable to get around on my own.
Making 30-60 minutes daily for exercise is hard. But so is making room for medical appointments and expenses.
Each choice you make leads to more or fewer options in the future.
Which choices would you make?