Choices – we must all make countless choices each day from the time we get out of bed to the food we eat to what we will do with our lives. Making choices is not so difficult with the basics. You know what you like to eat and do on a daily basis – easy. Or is it? Personally, I find making choices for the bigger things in life sometimes much easier than some of the smaller things. I know what I want to do with my life and what my life goals are – in the bigger picture, I make my choices based on the goals I want to achieve. It is when I start thinking about whether or not to go to an event, whether or not to accept a date, whether I should eat ice cream or frozen yogurt. Those decisions seem to take an inordinate amount of time. Brian Wansink, the John S. Dyson Professor of Marketing and of Applied Economics at Cornell, released a study in 2006 that found that we make 200 food choices a day on autopilot. When you think about it, everything we do, every minute of the day requires making a choice. That is probably one of the reason good habits are so necessary – good habits reduce the stress of having to make decisions that are good for you. Larger decisions do require more thought, they can impact our lives positively or negatively. The right choices are imperative if one is to succeed in life. So how do you make the right choices?
- Ask why you are making the choice, why you want to do whatever it is you are deciding on. Ask it at least three times.
- Ask what resources are required for the choice. Do you need money, time, talent, commitment?
- Do you have the resources and is it worth using those resources for this particular choice?
- Are there better alternatives?
Not making a choice is always another viable option, you can choose to not choose. Essentially, even maintaining the status quo can be a hard choice. It is quite a conundrum isn’t it?
- Make choices based on your values
- Make choices based on your goals
- Make choices based on your health
- Make choices based on your resources
Never make choices based on what someone else wants or someone else’s values. You have to own your choices if you want them to work for you. Limit the time you spend making day-to-day choices. Set a diet and stick to it. Set a daily and weekly schedule and stick to it. You will have a lot more productive hours in the day if you don’t spend an hour each day trying to decide what to have for dinner or whether to exercise or not.
Make the choice to use your time and resources wisely and don’t sweat the small stuff. Take the risk to go with your gut when it is viable to do so. We have been given the gift of free will – use the gift wisely and make choices that make you happy, keep you healthy, and help you achieve your dreams.
.SHEENA IYENGAR is the S. T. Lee Professor of Business at Columbia University and a recipient of the Presidential Early Career Award. She holds an undergraduate degree from Wharton School of Business and a doctorate in social psychology from Stanford University. Her innovative research on choice has been funded by the Institute for Advanced Studies, the Jerome A. Chazen Institute of International Business, the National Science Foundation, and the National Institute of Mental Health. Her work is regularly cited in periodicals such as the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, Fortune and TIME magazines, and in books such as Blink and The Paradox of Choice..