How To Decide When You Have Too Many Choices?

You’re being inundated with information.

You’ve got opinions from literally hundreds of people; there are too many ‘experts’ out there.

You‘ve got too many choices; it’s like a restaurant menu with 15 pages.

Theory seems to lead thought leadership; academics abound with their lofty advice.

Those with the most lofty academic pedigrees seem to command credibility.

Everyone seems to know what you should do.

All you want to do is make a decision that is right for you, but you can’t. There is just too much help; advice is ‘raining down’ on you — you have too many choices that you can make. And as a result you’re stressed out, you’re stuck in the evaluation and consideration mode. You can’t move.

So what do you do when you are inundated with good intentions?

Here are a few suggestions based on what worked for me over too many years of sitting ‘in the dark under the mushroom’ while bits and bytes lay siege:

Get your priorities straight

You can’t evaluate the worth of someone else’s advice if you don’t know precisely (ok ‘sorta know’) what you want to do. So sit down and define what you need; the specific objectives you want to achieve, and assess the advice out there with your needs as the context.

And try to define what you need in the short term rather than over a longer time horizon. The thing is, the long term never shows up if you can’t manoeuvre yourself through the short term. Long term results are achieved generally through sequential successes; there are simply no silver bullets you can rely on. Do the hard work everyday. Get a nano-inch of progress everyday and the future will take care of itself.

Look for people who have similar backgrounds

You need to be able to relate to the person spewing advice at you, so take some time and research the advisors. Pick one who is the closest to you in terms of life experience, education goals and career aspirations. Find someone who is relevant to you in the cloud of those who may have great credentials but are not on your wavelength.

Focus. Focus. Focus

Pick the top three things you need to sort out, not the total basket of goodies you face. We all get sucked into ‘boiling the ocean’; believing that unless we solve each and every challenge we face, we are incomplete and will fall short of the perfect solution for ourselves. The truth is that 80% of our problems come from 20% of the issues staring us in the eyes.

Roy’s Rule of 3: find 3 things that matter and conquer them; forget about the many other things that really don’t make a significant difference to your life — Roy, few is good; fewer is better

So filter the volumes of information ‘raining down’ on you and pick 3 sources and study them; do your own due diligence on your discoveries to decide what is worthy of your attention and following.

The reality is that you simply don’t have enough time to chase every information source or piece of guidance anyways, so it’s critical to bear down on those few things that have a good chance of helping you achieve your goals.

Don’t rush

You didn’t reach your current state overnight so it’s ok to take whatever time you need to move forward. I’m an advocate of ‘getting it just about right’ and then moving quickly to execution mode, and this applies to sifting through the barrage of data hitting us. The thing is, though, try and be as thorough as you can in the briefest time available to you. If you need an extra week to assess the most appropriate course of action for you to take, then take it.

Track what you do

It’s important to understand what works for you and what doesn’t because your actual experience should inform subsequent actions you decide to take. Your Plan A will not likely succeed; they rarely do. So it’s exceedingly important that you have data on your attempts to learn from and refine your next steps.

It’s great that there is a plethora of information at our disposal to help us make decisions, but there is a dark side that needs to be avoided.

The actions presented here when you have too many choices will help you navigate the information avalanche and find a nugget or two that will make the difference.

Related: What Human Frailties Does COVID Expose?