Perhaps, in 2013, you didn’t finish a novel, due, not to your short attention span, but rather, the bombardment of literary choices at your disposal. Perhaps, in 2013, you didn’t commit to a relationship either, overwhelmed with the sheer number of bicep bearing or sideboob sporting singles available in your social networks. Perhaps, even while reading this, you’re simultaneously checking emails and notifications, wondering anxiously, is another blog really worth 60 seconds of my life?
The fact is, in 2014, with the world becoming hotter, flatter, and rapidly more crowded, we’re caught inescapably in a crippling blizzard of choices. And the problem is, we don’t even know what we want anymore. We only know what we don’t want. Counterintuitive indeed, we find ourselves paralyzed by too much of a good thing.
Choice overload coupled with our insatiable desire for excess raises our expectations to insurmountable heights. Since satisfaction is the difference between reality and our expectations of it, we tend to remain dissatisfied with the reality of our decisions. Our freedom of choice proves ultimately paradoxical in that it inevitably results in regret.
To help cope with choice overload and subsequent regret, consider these tips:
1. Lower your expectations to the point at which you’re satisfied with reality. For example, don’t expect to finish every bestselling novel, but read often for pleasure.
2. Forget the number of fish in your sea of social networks. Treasure anyone and everyone who life brings your way. If you’re perpetually busy and convinced you can always do better, you’re just another victim of choice paralysis.
3. Stop competing with and comparing yourself to those around you. The grass appears forever greener on the other side.
4. Avoid regret. Appreciate, rather, what already is. Put last year’s Patrón provoked make out session with your ex behind you. Be grateful for the family and friends who support you despite your imperfections. Not everyone is so fortunate.
5. Realize that nothing is or ever could be lacking in your life. Everything you have, somebody out there wants. Everything you want, somebody out there has. But everything you need is right before your eyes.
6. I once met a Spanish man who lived so close to France that at night, he could smell the buttery croissants baking, yet he remained content to die of old age without ever having gone to taste one. Attach yourself neither to results nor destinations. You’re exactly where you need to be.
Brian Hanley is a Master’s of Engineering degree candidate at Lehigh University and founder of TechnicalEntrepreneurship.com.