Wait. Do You Have An "Option" Problem Too?

I'd like to consider myself a fairly productive person. I wake up each morning, meditate for at least 30 minutes (okay, most days 10 but it feels like 30), force myself to participate in one athletic activity, and then plant myself in a coffee shop to write. This process saves me an immense amount of time.

But on days like this morning, where one factor shifts like Matthew coming home early from the gym, my yoga studio's schedule changing or attempting to get into the Fall spirit by planning to bake an impromptu cake, all hell breaks loose. 

Unplanned time is not my friend. Rather than using the extra time to gain a head start or embracing the joy of adding a new twist to our daily routine, I almost inevitably reach for my phone and get lost in a sea of options.

In today's (first) world, I'd argue we've got way too many options. From what to wear to which social media platform to post on, even which recipes to undertake in the kitchen. It's a mad house. 

But what's most astounding to me is the amount of time we spend indulging these options. Even friends of mine who don't fall prey to my own overthinking tendencies, refer to their phones for ratings and reviews before making any kind of decision for themselves.

It's become fact: making decisions, of any kind, takes time. But is it really time well spent?

This morning I spent almost an hour and a half debating which Pinterest recipe made the most sense to attempt, periodically showing Matthew photographs to help him weigh in. Once we'd narrowed it down to cakes, it took another 10 minutes for me to decide what kind of cake. After that we followed various pins to food blogs, weighing the validity of each recipe based on photography and reader evaluations in the comments section.

One entire hour. In fact, the only hour we spend together before Matthew leaves for work was spent debating the quality and feasibility of cake recipes. 

I'd like to say that all of these options add invaluable versatility to my life. I'd just be making myself feel better. At face value, maybe they do, but when I stop to consider the time I spend making arbitrary decisions like what to wear to a sweaty yoga class or whether or not I need extra naan with my Lamb Vindaloo, the vast majority of these options seem shallow at best. 

This new "era of connectedness" has enabled us to see into the lives of others in so many unimaginable ways. Which, in theory, enlightens us, broadens our perspective and makes us feel far less alone than we would otherwise. In practice, it just gives us more pointless options than necessary ones. Deciding whether or not to classify our interior style as rustic chic or bold modern takes up more of our time than deciding whether or not we're speaking intelligently in meetings or if we're putting as much effort into our personal relationships as we should.

I've told myself time and time again that these larger decisions—who I want to be, the legacy I'd like to leave—are best reserved for big moments in my life like New Years Day and birthdays. The, less consequential "options" I debate on a daily basis take up more time, yes, but less energy.

And yet, I often imagine how much happier I'd be if I swapped the amount of focus I have on one kind of decision for the other. If I spent hours every day debating whether or not I was living out a life that genuinely helped others and only one day a year asking myself which shade of lipstick looked best with my skin tone. 

The jury's still out on this one. I do my best. Like anyone else, I have my off days. But to my fellow anxiety-driven, option addicts out there, I thought it'd at least be decent food for thought.

Amina TaylorComment