Updated: Sep 16, 2018
Have you ever caught yourself in a store trying to pick one item from a row of similar items? You probably had spent a considerable amount of time going back and forth before making your final decision. For me, lots of options of anything is never a good thing. I end up second guessing myself and spending a lot of time considering the "finalist."
A not-so-recent but still relevant article was published by the New York Times in 2010 (https://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/27/your-money/27shortcuts.html). The article describes the problem people face when presented with many possibilities. Too many options make people indecisive and lost. We get paralyzed and waste a lot of energy and time trying to make a decision. Lots of options make us think that the best is still out there and we might find it if we spend more time.
"Research also shows that an excess of choices often leads us to be less, not more, satisfied once we actually decide. There’s often that nagging feeling we could have done better."
A limited selection, on the other hand, promotes active thinking and analysis leading towards a solid decision. A decision that is not regretted.
Think back to your latest shopping experience whether in a store or online. At first, you are excited to go through racks of options hoping to find the best item. Thrilling! After a little while though you start to feel tired and disinterested. The number of possibilities overwhelms you, and you either leave a store with nothing or buy a first thing that lends in your hands. Either outcome brings you little satisfaction and may even result in regret.
"Increased choice, then, can make us miserable because of regret, self-blame and opportunity costs. Worse, increased choice has created a new problem: the escalation in expectations. "
We all suffer from an overload whether it is while grocery shopping, choosing our next date or selecting a new pair of shoes. In today's world, thanks to the global economy, we get lots of options for any single idea. We puzzle over labels trying to find the best one: where is it made, how is it made, what goes into it, is it organic, gluten-free, or sugarless. We WASTE time overanalyzing every single aspect of a label. And, in the end, we are not better off than at the beginning. All the information that we got is not helping us. Instead, it freezes us while fostering frustration and annoyance.
So what should we do in the world that is filled with thousands of choices? MY solution is to focus on a few stores that I love and start doing most of my shopping there. For shoes, I go to stuartweizman.com or 6pm.com (discounted items). 6pm.com has thousands of items, but I filter down as much as I can to get a reasonable number of hits. For clothing, I like Ted Baker (fancy wear), Lou & Grey (casual wear), T.J.Max (when I feel like hunting for a treasure). For my children, I go to hannaandersson.com or T.J.Max. Hanna Andersson is not cheap, but I wait for sales and buy a size up.
Making a conscious decision to focus on a limited number of stores is the first step. The second step is not to get caught in online advertisements that hunt you everywhere you go. Stay vigilant! Marketers are trying to get your attention, so you visit a site and spend some money. Be better than that. Know what You want, not what others want you to want. Also, any other media outlet that you follow tries to get your attention and your money, for that matter. Do not get caught up in the cycle of neverending ads.
Once you start paying attention only to specific brands, your shopping experience will improve. The limited selection makes shopping more efficient and effective. You are not spending hours in a fitting room trying on a few dozen items. You will end up spending less money because of a limited choice. I'll take that! And, yes, at times you won't find anything you like. And that is fine. You do not need to buy something every time you go shopping. We are brainwashed to buy - fight the urge, be brave, be bold, and happy shopping!