The Danger of Too Many Choices
I am going to give you an analogy around what happens to us when we are faced with too many choices and how it can also affect our young people.
Have you ever been to a restaurant where the menus are like a large booklet? I don’t know about you but when that happens, I get anxious quite quickly because there is just way too much to choose from on the menu. I do much better when there are maybe five things on the menu and my choices are limited and I just must pick one and that’s it. With young people, if we give them too many options, they will find it overwhelming and they may become anxious and more under pressure to decide.
I think it’s a bit of an important life lesson to not get everything you want in life because typically life’s not like that. I don’t think it’s a useful thing for our young people to be able to have everything that they want! It’s important to learn that lesson of “you can’t always get access to the things that you would ideally have liked to have had” because it makes you become more resourceful in your decision-making.
Scientifically speaking having too many choices is proven to be bad for you so choice overload or over choice is a type of paralysis that occurs when someone has far too many options presented to them. It can damage people’s well-being. It can cause them not to make any choices whatsoever and it just leaves them frozen in this space of not being able to move forward with their lives.
Whilst choices are important for young people to give them a sense of authority and responsibility over their lives and to just help them to feel a bit more mature and respected there is a sweet spot in how many choices we might offer them.
Some people estimate the right number of choices is going to be somewhere between 8 and 15 but I think it largely depends on what context we are dealing with and remembering the choices that there are on offer, the more likelihood there is that struggle to make one and become Frozen in Time, stuck paralyzed and make the right choice for themselves. In moving forward, if you have someone who is finding it difficult to make the right choices perhaps the answer is in making sure that there are fewer items on the menu for them to choose from!
By Gemma Bailey