How We Choose – The Science of Making Great Choices

how we choose, choice, road, road less traveled

Quantum physics is the science of possibility.  I recently re-watched the movie “What the Bleep” .  I was once again reminded that life is about possibility.  Possibility is the result of having choice. So does having more choices improve our life? How do we choose? Even more important, how do we choose well?

Barry Schwartz in his book, The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Lessmakes the case that having more choices actually reduces the quality of life. Having too many choices, he argues, exhausts the psyche, increases dissatisfaction and self blame.

Sheena Iyengar in  “The Art of Choosing,” says having more choices can make us choose things that are not good for us. One example is that the more retirement fund options a person has, the less likely they are to save for their old age.

Neuroscience and brain scan technology shows us that choice is made in the prefrontal cortex.  When bombarded with too many choices the pfc shuts down as if a circuit breaker has popped off.  The result is information overload and making undesirable choices. The brain region responsible for smart decision making has essentially left the premises. This also causes frustration and anxiety to soar.

Our brain is wired to notice change. An arriving email that pops to the top of your smart phone or the newest Facebook post grabs attention.  We are conditioned to give greater weight to what is latest, not what is more important. We will often act on this information first. Steven Covey calls this being driven by “The Tyranny of the Urgent”.

So how can we make better choices?  Here are a few tips:

1.  Start with the end in mind.  Take time to determine what is truly important.  What do you desire?  Filter decisions through the lens of your goals, dreams and desires.

2.  Avoid the syndrome of “recency”.  Just because it is newest, or on the top of your email list does not qualify it as the most important.

3.  Reduce the number of options and then choose.  Make your choice from a list of the top 3-10 not 100.

4.  Utilize your support system.  Ask for advice.  Speak with others who have done what you are desiring to do.

5.  Get ego out of the way.  Is the choice based on fear or love?

6.  Mix both rational and intuition.  List for example the pros and cons but also be still and listen to your “gut feeling”.  Writing in a journal is another way to tap into your intuition.

7.  Work with a coach. When we look at the decision from a different perspectives or ask more empowering questions new and more powerful options open.

Feeling stuck? Ready to raise the quality of your choices? For a FREE breakthrough coaching session email or call 916-439-0484.

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