Too many choices?



As fictional television character Harvey Specter from the TV hit series Suits, played by Gabriel Macht, explained in the above standing quote: You think you don’t have many choices but in fact, you have a lot of choices and it is important that you make the right one. This blog post will elaborate on the fact that in real life you have a lot of options which means you have got a lot of choices. Reflecting on your choices is very important in your decision-making process and I will provide an interesting theory on it. I will reflect on my own decision-making process by giving an example.


Reflection of choice

Everything in your life is a reflection of a choice that you have made in the past. And if you want a different result you have to make a different choice. But making choices is a difficult process and you may not choose the optimal option. But the general consensus in today’s society is that every choice you make in life is an opportunity to select the best possible outcome which would you make the most happy. And therefore you could say that more choices lead to more happiness.

Paradox of choice

A lot of research has been done to find out what our decision-making process influences and a lot of interesting points have been made. A very interesting view on the decision-making process has been made by Renata Salecl called ‘The paradox of choice’. She says that when choices increase, also ‘choice’ anxiety increases. Some anxiety provoking thoughts:

  1. We choose what other people are choosingblog 4444
  2. We try to make an ideal choice
  3. Choice always involves a loss

Salecl argues that this anxiety in combination with the capitalist ideal of the self-made man leads to social paralysis. “Today’s ideology of choice,” says Salecl, “actually pacifies people and makes us constantly turn criticism to ourselves instead of organizing ourselves and making a critique of the society we live in.” Making a choice between different options is often irrational and is often made unconscious. We base our opinions on others which will make our decisions not optimal. Salecl concludes with saying that she is stopped taking choices too seriously.

An interesting video from Renata Salecl: The paradox of Choice:

My Reflection

The decision-making problem that I was facing, where I can reflect on, happened just before the academic year started. I had the opportunity to do my (first) master thesis with a company, to just do my thesis on the university without anything distracting me or I could follow a second master and simultaneously write my (first) master thesis. Like I told you in my last blog I have chosen the last option. It was a difficult decision for me but if I reflect on it a couple months later, I can say I probable made the right decision. Expanding my academic view by doing a second master in Strategic Management opened my eyes that there is a lot more in business outside ‘hardcore’ accounting.  If I reflect on the view of Salecl I can agree on her ‘Anxiety points’ and that too much options makes everything more complicated. But I think that you have to be aware of the anxiety that you are probably facing and that trying to make the ideal choice is very hard. But I don’t agree with her view that you don’t have to take making choices seriously.

If I reflect back on the title of this blog: ’Too many choices?’ and the theory of Salecl I can state that making decisions is difficult and that you probably won’t make the ideal choice. But having less choices would in my view not be more beneficial. And like Harvey Specter said, you have always a lot of choices even if it doesn’t look like that on first sight. And still if you made a bad choice in your life, it is still your choice and if you want another result, make a different decision. Like Harvey would say:





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