Are you one of the millions of people who are overwhelmed by the number of choices and options we face on a daily basis these days?
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, you’re not alone. The proof is in the countless number of self-help books and articles about simple living. And, while one would think that a book about simple living would be, well.. simple, they are often not. Some of them boast as many as 1,500 ways to simplify life. That’s around 10 times the amount of tips that the average person can read, process, remember and utilize in everyday life.
To make matters worse, a lot of these books will tell you that getting rid of most of your stuff will simplify your life. But, if you live a complicated life and have a cluttered mind, getting rid of the clutter in your environment is only one way to deal with the problem. It’s certainly not a total solution. In other words, an organized sock drawer may make you feel better about your sock storage decisions, but won’t have much effect on the rest of your life.
Simple living is less about how much stuff you have and more about making better decisions
You can live a minimalist life with a clutter- free environment and still have a cluttered mind. Today we have so many choices and options that it is easy to get overwhelmed by it all, which leaves most people at a standstill, choosing to make NO decision. Before we take any action, we make a decision, and before we make a decision we are given a number of choices. So in order to simplify life, it makes sense to limit your choices so that decisions are easier and more actions are likely to be taken. Here are just a few of the benefits you’ll receive by limiting your options:
You’ll be less overwhelmed with daily life
Imagine that you’ve decided to subscribe to a streaming service, such as Netflix, only to discover that they offer 30 different plans which they think will fit the needs of their customers. It’s not likely that you’ll read through all 30 plans and choose one. Instead, you’ll go find a service that offers three plans, and then choose one of those. You actually do things similar to this all the time in various aspects of your life and don’t realize it. So, starting out with fewer options saves you some time and stress.
You’ll make better decisions
Decision fatigue is a very real thing. Ray F. Baumeister, a social psychologist, conducted a series of experiments on undergraduates. The results showed that making decisions requires mental energy, and that we have a limit to that energy.
The undergraduates were asked to perform tasks which required them to make a decision and use willpower to accomplish. They were less able to make decisions and fight off temptation during the next task.
Basically, the findings were this: you’re less able to make good decisions after you’ve already made a lot of decisions.
The fewer options you have, the more objective you’ll be
With fewer options, you’ll be less likely to be tempted by an overly indulgent choice.
Consider a buff and. If you’re on a diet, a buffet with many options will make the decision to eat healthy food a hard one. But, picking the healthiest food out of three options is far easier. Having fewer options makes decision-making a lot easier.
How to limit your options and simplify your life
Now that you know about the benefits of having fewer options, here are three ideas you can use to simplify your life:
- Cut down on the options you have in daily life
There are number of decisions you make every day, such as what you wear, what you eat and what route you take to get to work. So, take time to think about how to simplify them.
When it comes to choosing what to wear, there are several ways to simplify this decision. You could plan your outfits the night before, or plan them for the week. Or, you could find a simple signature style combination. Steve Jobs liked a black turtleneck and jeans, Mark Zuckerberg likes gray T-shirts, and the Queen of England is partial to picking a dress with a brooch that matches it.
When it comes to making decisions about food, you have some options to simplify this process, as well. Planning your meals for the week cuts down on indecisiveness. And prepping your meals for the week ensures that you’ll stick to your plans.
- Think about what’s most important to you
Let’s say you’re trying to make a decision between two job offers. One is an hour and a half commute and pays more. The other is closer to home and pays less. So the choice here is about whether the long commute is worth it to you for the extra pay.
Many of the decisions in our lives come and go. But if we know what’s important to us and what’s negotiable, they’re easier to make.
- Use your imagination
One easy way to decide on what you want to eat is to imagine what each one of your choices taste like. You can also imagine how your stomach will feel after you’ve eaten it. Will you be pleasantly full, or full of indigestion? Does the orange chicken or the pepper steak jump out at you?
This works with other decisions, as well. If you choosing between working for someone full time and freelancing, think about how you’ll feel. If the thought of drumming up your own business is stressful, rather than exciting, it’s easier to make the decision to steer clear of it.
You’ll be surprised how often this exercise helps you through daily decisions.
Our lives are full of decisions. But, we tend to overwhelm ourselves with so many choices that we choose to make no choice.
Confucius said: “Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”
When we get overwhelmed by our choices and make no choices, we make no decisions and therefore take no action. Taking no action could lead to an unfulfilled life.
But, what if the act of streamlining the decision-making process could lead to an action that actually gives you the life that you want? You’ll never know if you don’t try. Try these three ideas today. If nothing else, they’ll make make life easier.