Sorry to Break it to You, but Your Choices Don’t Matter (Sometimes)
Photo courtesy of David Nichols.

Sorry to Break it to You, but Your Choices Don’t Matter (Sometimes)

Written by Emilie

Topics: Productivity

We like to think that our choices have cosmic significance, that the route we take to the store could mean the difference between meeting our soulmate or not, and that the project we choose to focus on today will have a significant impact on our lives.

And sometimes our choices do matter. Sometimes we do meet that special person en route to the grocery story, or we stumble upon an amazing opportunity because we chose to explore one passion over another. Sometimes our decisions have a major impact. But most of the time, choosing one route or project over another will produce no real difference.

In reality, you could probably choose either path, and chances are you’d end up with exactly the same result. Or maybe there would be a minor difference, but nothing significant.

A lot of the time, your choices just don’t matter.

That might sound harsh, but it’s actually quite freeing. Hear me out.

Multipotentialites often get hung up on which project to focus on on any given day. When I asked about your biggest productivity struggles, “choosing what to focus on” came up again and again. It was by far the biggest concern.

You’ve probably heard of the paradox of choice: the more options you have in front of you, the harder it is to choose. Well, for multipotentialites, who have so many more interests than most people, the paradox of choice is amplified tenfold.

No wonder this is a big problem!

Limit Your choices through prioritization

First thing’s first. Multipods tend to have so many projects in their lives, that I always recommend choosing 1-5 priority projects and hanging reminders of those on your wall (everything else can be explored during scanning time or can be added to your backburner list of things to pursue in the future).

However, beyond deciding on your priority projects, your choice about what to focus on on any given day, really doesn’t matter very much. For the most part, you could choose any of your priority projects to work on, and regardless of your choice, you’d be making progress on something important.

What’s important isn’t that you make the right choice, but that you make a choice

Getting hung up on all the possibilities and trying to be make the “perfect choice” will paralyze you. It’s also a form of Resistance, a good rationalization to not take that action step that will truly advance one of your goals.

We so often complicate things for ourselves, taking the long, winding road because we’re too afraid of doing the one thing that we know would make a real difference: calling that potential client, writing that sales page, whatever it is. Pouring over all of your possible options is a good way to avoid taking action.

But in this scenario, making a choice is more important than making the right choice. In fact, sometimes there is no right choice, just a number of different options.

So flip a coin, go with what you’re most passionate about in the moment, or do the thing that feels most pressing. It doesn’t really matter how you make your choice, just that you make one.

Admitting that your choices sometimes don’t matter is freeing

Now, when I hear my thoughts begin to obsess about what to work on, or hell, which utensil to use, I think to myself, “This choice probably doesn’t matter.”

Just admitting that your choice likely won’t make any difference or have any real, irreparable impact, makes it a lot easier to move on with your life.

Don’t waste your mental energy on decisions that don’t matter. Just pick something and get going.

Your Turn

Do you ever feel paralyzed by choice? How do you handle it?

28 Comments

  1. linda says:

    A great way to look at the issue of making choices and taking action. I think many of us get trapped into analysis… and ultimately the fear of making the “wrong” decision holds us back from making any choice at all. The pivotal point, like you said, “What’s important isn’t that you make the right choice, but that you make a choice.” Definitely.

    • Emilie says:

      Thanks Linda. Yeah, that analysis mindset is a nifty little way to avoid dealing with fear– fear of making the wrong choice, fear of failure, fear of putting yourself out there, all that. But sometimes you just have to feel the discomfort in order to move past it. (In other words, take action. :)

  2. Dwayne@TWC says:

    This is exactly what I try to tell people, Emilie. They get scared of making the worng choice so they never make any choice and are stuck in the same spot forever. Like Will Smith said “Just DECIDE and the Universe is gonna get outta your way!” Great post.

    • Emilie says:

      Hey Dwayne, that’s a great Will Smith quote! Really I think it’s more like you getting out of your own way, but I hear ya. The universe does like to make things happen for the person with a mission.

  3. My problem is usually not making a choice, but having so many choices that my brain breaks and I have to stop looking at everything for awhile. It is actually very freeing to stop obsessing over making the “right” choice because in reality there are no right or wrong choices.

  4. Manal says:

    Definitely needed to see this today. Thank you!

    It’s been a long time since I’ve made the ‘choice’ on a subconscious level to just not choose. Going round and round in circles, wanting things to be “just right”

    My friend, and fellow life coach, said to me the other day, what would you do if you WEREN’T stuck? And there it was, the most simple answer, and one that wasn’t even in my list of ‘choices’.

    Needed this ‘harsh’ reminder, thank you.

    • Emilie says:

      Interesting. I ask myself a similar question sometimes when I’m feeling stuck, which is: what would you say to someone else in your situation? That often helps. It just changes your focus completely.

      Thanks for the feedback Manal! It’s good to hear from you. :)

  5. Mike Carlson says:

    In addition to a kind of “paralysis by analysis” thing where I almost get wore out by decision, or indecision, as the case may be, I also tend to forget my trajectory from day to day. My brain doesn’t contain all of the options in anything resembling an orderly way. I’m getting better about writing things down but…..where did I put that note again….??

    • Emilie says:

      Hey Mike,

      Yeah, that’s why I hang reminders of my priority projects on my wall, so that my brain remembers what we’re working towards.

      And Mike? Buy a notebook. ;)

  6. Adam Lasky says:

    Hey Emile,
    I know exactly what you mean! I face the “choice paradox” constantly and I usually end up on my couch watching The Office re-runs on DVD for hours on end while I “brainstorm” potential action paths in my notebook. After a few hours of this I get on Facebook/Twitter and see what the rest of the world is doing so I don’t have to think about my stalled projects. Rinse. Dry. Repeat. Thanks for the insight!

    • Emilie says:

      Haha I hear you. I’ve relegated all DVD watching time to my unproductive hours of the day (2pm-4pm). And even then, I try to make sure that I’ve already accomplished some good “Creating” for the day. It’s all about the 3 C’s. Can’t go mixing brainstorming and Consuming. That just won’t work. If all else fails, flip a coin and go.

  7. Josh says:

    When I’m paralyzed by choice I bang my head on the monitor multiple times, then go eat food, then go back and hit the computer a few more times, then go whine on puttytribe, then I go back and do it.

    Sometimes I just put it off till the very last minute, then well, gotta pick one!

  8. Harrison says:

    The story of my life. Choices. But it’s great to see in writing that as long as I make “a choice”, then there will be progress. I’m one of those people juggling several projects … but I started using Google Calendar to really block out time (which oddly, reminds me of using Outlook in my corporate job … guess not everything in corporations is completely evil, haha).

  9. Cherilyn says:

    Yes, yes, yes! As a 40-something who homeschools her three boys, I can testify to the wisdom of not freaking out about choices. I have made all the right choices and had bad outcomes, and I have done everything wrong and a miracle still happened. I have seen people classified as deadbeats in school turn into amazing adults and I have seen “perfect” people end up fearful and lonely.

    I have come to the radical conclusion that yes, following traditional wisdom like doing well in school and not doing drugs tends to save you a lot of grief later. But it’s not a formula for guaranteed success. Taking the pressure off and going with something that feels good is better than fearing that it’s not the right thing.

    • Manal says:

      OT, but Cherilyn…I read your post and was like, another mom of 3+, multipotentialite, homeschooler? Is that for real?

      We must chat :)

    • Emilie says:

      Wow, Cherilyn. You home school three boys. That’s impressive! (Wish I could pop in to your “classroom.”)

      You’re right, perfectionism is a big problem. Usually I find that when someone claims to be a perfectionist, what they’re really saying is that they’re terrified– terrified of being wrong. I think very few people are true perfectionists.

  10. thanks for this wonderful post … great article when i needed it most :)

  11. Jenn says:

    What’s interesting about choices and deciding is that it’s never a “one and done” kind of proposition. In most cases, one choice is followed by another, and then another, and so on…We are never following the perfect straight line path, but constantly adjusting course for what is right in the next moment. If you happen to choose wrong, there is always a next choice to be made, even if the original choice can’t be undone.

    If we always the right choice the first time — how would we ever learn about what works and what doesn’t. There is much to be gained from the discoveries following a flawed choice…If we would only allow ourselves such freedom…

    • Emilie says:

      Very good point, Jenn. Also, you touch on something, which is that once you simply get started, the Resistance usually subsides. Just doing ANYTHING gets you going, and you end up knocking a bunch of things off your list.

  12. Pauline Nelson says:

    I cannot even begin to tell you how wonderful and amazing you are for creating Puttylike! I have had years of angish over “finding my purpose” and sticking to the “one thing.” I have had therapy, counselling, career guidance, completed various tests, asked people, moved to a different country, had many readings and sought answers under every rock I could find lol! This was all because I thought there was something “wrong” with me and now I know there is not and that I belong to a Tribe and thank Heaven and the Angels for you!!!

    Ever since reading through your awesome website and blogs I feel this incredible sense of deep inner peace that makes me feel like everything is now alright in my world and I know that I will just go with my intuition and do the many things I want to do before I leave this beautiful blue and green planet!

    I love this blog too that choices don’t matter, I have turned myself inside and out trying to make the “right” choices and I feel liberated to do so as through your terrific advice, I now give myself permission to follow my passions. You totally rock Emilie!

    • Emilie says:

      Thank you so much for this, Pauline! It saddens me to no end to hear about what you went through. I hate stories like that, and they are disturbingly common. But I’m so happy that you’ve found us, and it’s really nice to meet you. :)

      Stay in touch!

      xo Emilie

  13. OMG totally! I make jewelry and I will agonize for literally days over individual, minuscule choices (the coin shape or the oval shape? the green leather or the green ribbon? it must capture my SOUL. It must be REVOLUTIONARY. Gawd.) It’s like some bracelet is some cosmic expression of my Higher Self and if one little piece is off then the Jewelry Baby will die. Whatever. I saw an Etsy newsletter, with an article by someone (shame on me, can’t remember who, it was a guy artist) who shared several pointers for getting out of an artistic rut. One of them was “Let go of preciousness.” How many days have I frittered away trying to choose between cerulean and azure? I wrote that down and put it in my wallet. Just finish the damn thing, someone will love it, and you can’t capture your own exact soul in an ACCESSORY anyway. That’s just plain silly. Approximate it. That has helped me a lot. The important thing is getting the flow going outward.

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