What to do about choices


The Ford Model T went into production in 1908 and was the first car to be efficiently mass-produced using an assembly line. By the end of production in 1927, 15 million were produced in Michigan, USA. During the first four years of production, the Ford Model T was only available in three colors – green, grey and red. However, in 1914, black paint became cheap and, along with its durability, led to all Ford Model T’s being painted black. From this came the famous phrase “customers can own a Ford in any color, as long as it’s black”.

More than 100 years later, a significant part of the world now lives surrounded by a growing abundance of choice. At a time when we have achieved more than any other generation, we find real examples everywhere of dissatisfaction with not doing more, having more. Our success is bittersweet, and results above all from the fact that we now have more choice than ever before.

We grew up based on the paradigm that the more choices we have, the more freedom we have… but more recently we have realized that having too many options to choose from produces anxiety and brings difficulties, especially for those who are not trained to do it well. Our context amplifies the stress on us… and it’s easy to see those close to us always striving to have the best they can, ending up giving in to the pressure, both social and self-inflicted, sometimes coming across as “unhappy”.

However, the process of making choices can be more conscious and healthy, even today. This requires improving our emotional intelligence, especially our self-knowledge and self-control, so that with deliberate practice we can make better choices, without the decision-making process bringing us negative consequences.

The growing awareness that we are making the “right choice” is very important. Thinking about and answering the questions Why this? Why now?… helps us to really understand the reasons for such a decision. It is above all when we are comfortable with the reasons for the choice [and not with the material object that this decision has brought us] that we feel more satisfied and that we feel more at ease with the process.

It also helps to assume that you can’t go back on your decision. This makes the mental process of acceptance easier, since we can’t “take it back” or reverse it. When we assume that the decision we are about to make is final, our predisposition to find the best option increases and our satisfaction with it will be greater.

The practice of gratitude and the awareness that we gain nothing from regret also allows us to channel our energy into improving our personal well-being and our relationships with others. It’s extraordinary what we gain emotionally from the regular practice of gratitude and how it impacts our desire to want “more through less”.

It’s also important to recognize and value the constraints that already exist in our daily lives, without which the number of choices would be even greater. The rules that society imposes allow us to deal better with what we have to decide, because they ensure that we have freedom within limits. Being aware of these limits helps us decide with peace of mind and ensures that we don’t spend all our time fighting to survive.

Today, 14 car companies own 55 brands on the market. If we think of these alone, and make a rough estimate below the real value, that each brand has 10 models, each model has 5 versions and each version has 10 alternative colors… that’s 27,500 possible choices. And we haven’t even gotten to the possible customizations. It can be overwhelming, clearly.

Becoming aware of and significantly limiting the process of making choices, considering them to be non-reversible from time to time, convincing ourselves that there is no room for regret and being grateful for our current limits are some of the tips we can follow to deal better with decisions in today’s times. The better prepared we are to make decisions, the better we will be able to make good decisions in our companies and in our lives. There are programs and experiences that can help us with this in 2020. Shall we practice?

Article for INFORH, written by Luís Rosário Partner at Immersis

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What to do about choices