Millennials and the Illusion of Choice

Whenever I’m in a predicament that involves a big decision my father always says, “Well, at least you have a choice.”

It’s a comforting thought. I can always choose to:

  • Cancel my Christmas party because I didn’t realize it fell on the same day as a work event (totally did that).
  • Engage in a surface level relationship that will lead to nowhere (always horrible/confusing/no bueno).
  • Eat a salad and then order French fries for balance (we all deserve the right to feed in cognitive dissonance).

But for many people, making decisions is one of life’s most debilitating exercises. I call it, “The Illusion of Choice.” And while “choice” is very much a real thing and examining “choice” as a reality can be very freeing, it can also cause extreme anxiety and even prevent us from moving forward with our lives in a healthy manner.

I have a hunch that it’s a generational thing (sorry Millennials) and that indecision prevents us from seizing opportunities in the realms of love, work, and even our own mental health.

LOVE

Aziz Ansari put it simply while talking about his book Modern Love, which is best consumed in audio version, by saying:

Thanks to smartphones and the Internet, our options are unlimited, whether it’s a retail item or a romantic possibility. We have all become maximizers. When I think back to that sad peanut-butter-and banana sandwich I had in Seattle, this idea resonates with me. Besides gasoline, it’s nearly impossible for me to think of anything I won’t put in time for to find the best. I’m a maximizer for just about everything. Tacos? You better believe. Candles? If you only knew how good the candles in my house smell.

But Ansari’s lesson lies within the fact that we waste loads of mental energy buzzing around with FOMO, trying to date everyone, but we fail to appreciate what’s right in front of us.

As the old saying goes: You can’t have your cake and eat it too.

And so the Millennial who swiped right was alone, and underappreciated, again.

Having trouble finding the love? Get off Tinder, simplify your life, and spread love to those most important to you. You will be more fulfilled. x10.

WORK

Like dating, always searching for a new job won’t help you enjoy the one you have.

This year, I applied for jobs from July through October. I was rejected. A lot. While I had accepted my current job mid-October—which ironically came from being at the right place at the right time—I still had an interview for another job lingering in my mind.

Because I had one more “possibility” left on the burner, I couldn’t fully appreciate my current position. After I interviewed and was rejected, I received a change in perspective; a blessing, if you will.

I realized: How could I get a job in the realm of what I thought wanted, if I had little work experience to begin with?

I am a workforce infant. I need to marinate awhile and gain confidence. I’m okay with that.

So I counted my blessings. But until I shifted my perspective, I was unable to see my job as a place for growth, only pain. And this pain, caused by my Illusion of Choice, was inhibiting my personal growth.

What I’m NOT saying is, “Lower your standards and everything will suddenly become more appealing!” That’s dangerous.

What I am saying is, “Why are you applying to work in Chicago, where you know absolutely no one, and have meager experience related to the job that just sounds “so cool?”

Save yourself a little trouble.

  • Invest in relationships you already have.
  • Think local–what is actually obtainable within your network?

And above all (I know, it’s technically below the aforementioned bullet points)

  • Appreciate your present.

If you don’t, you will continue to miss out the on valuable lessons and experiences that will get you to where you need to go.

Even worse, you’ll be too distracted to love the one you’re with.

Even more worse, you’ll go insane.

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