Updated: 4 days ago
In the developed world, there is something out there that is both a boon and a curse. It's called 'choice'.
"May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears" - Nelson Mandela
Life is full of choices. From what you have for breakfast to when you go to sleep, everything is a choice. Some choices are simpler than others, and do not take much time to make. Others need more consideration. The more choice you have when deciding something, the more likely you are to be undecided.
All choices have consequences, but we must be mindful of high-impact choices versus low-impact ones.
Some choices are low-impact, such as: What should I wear today? What do I do on the weekend? What shall I watch on telly?
Such choices would not (or should not) take up too much time. However, in some cases, they may end up doing just that. For example, up until around 20 years ago, if you wanted to watch telly, you probably had a maximum of three different shows to choose from at any given time - depending on your interests. Now, not only do you have hundreds of channels on TV, you also have access to multiple streaming platforms with thousands of films and TV shows at your fingertips. This means you could be spending more time deciding what to watch rather than actually watching anything.
Spending a lot of time on a low-impact choice means you end up wasting a lot of time in indecision.
Spend as little time as possible on low-impact choices. You can always choose something different if it doesn't work out
Some choices in life are high-impact, such as: What should I do for a living? Should I marry? Should I buy that house? Should I have kids? How many kids should I have? Which school should I send them to?
Such choices might be made over a long period of time but sometimes they might be made in an instant. When intuition comes into play, it is difficult to logically explain why certain choices are made. If something feels right, its usually the right choice.
If something feels right, its usually the right choice
Just like with low-impact choices, there are now a lot more possibilities when it comes to high-impact choices too. Geographical, cultural, and social restrictions are less pronounced than they used to be. You don't necessarily have to work where you currently live, or do the same job that your parents did.
Spend as much time as you need on high-impact choices. You are the one who has to live with the consequences
Choice is a Privilege
Now let's not forget that choice is a privilege. To have a choice means to have the power to decide. With such power comes great responsibility - the responsibility to make choices that are right for you.
In some cases, making a choice that suits only you is not the best option. If your choice has an impact on those that are close to you, then you need to weigh your options wisely. Ultimately, making a choice that suits the people you care about is a choice that will stand the test of time unless, of course, you stop caring about those people.
The Right Choice
So how do you know you have made the right choice? For low-impact choices, you would usually know straightaway. For high-impact choices, it might take anywhere between a few seconds to many years.
The right choice doesn't necessarily mean something that brings you a lot of happiness. It could be something that teaches you a valuable lesson - something that you wouldn't have known had you made a different but less challenging choice.
Maybe you hired someone to clean your windows but then realised they were not the right fit for the job. Though this might seem like the 'wrong' choice, it would actually be the right choice if you learnt something that this person was doing wrong so that you can make a better hiring choice the next time. Even better, it may have motivated you to do it yourself and therefore save a lot of money in the long term.
Your Best Fit
Ultimately, an ideal choice is something that fits you and your situation.
Just like a pair of shoes, what fits one person will not necessarily fit you. And if you have found the right pair of shoes, you never need to think about choosing shoes again.
Think of it this way. If you found a pair of shoes that fit you well, are durable, comfortable, not too expensive, and look reasonably good, why would you want any other pair of shoes? When the pair eventually wears out, buy another pair of the same thing. In other words, once you have found your 'best fit' you never need to think about an alternative. You have banished the curse of choice.
But is it as easy as that? The idea of fulfilment has been elaborated by many. In essence, it comes down to the underlying motivation behind your choice and whether or not you have any needs that are not fulfilled.
To use the shoes analogy, it is possible that you have spent 5 years never thinking about what pair of shoes to wear because you already have your best fit. But what if, one day, you happen to see another pair of shoes that you like the look of. You just try these new shoes on and you like how they feel. Suddenly, you have a choice to make. Switch your pair of shoes or stick with the one you know has served you well and will be sure to serve you well in the future?
Will there ever be a time when you don't need to make any choices? No. But finding your best fit in most situations will reduce the amount of time you spend choosing and will leave a lot more time for you to do the things you want.
When something fits you well, you would know it. When you are comfortable in your shoes, you almost can't feel them. Similarly, if you find that you are not feeling stifled by something, then it means it is a good fit. If you feel like you can be yourself at work (at least most of the time), it means its a good fit not just for your skills but for your personality too. If you can be yourself around your partner, then they are your best fit.
If something feels effortless, its a best fit. Sometimes you have to push yourself to learn a new skill, change jobs, or move home. But this is only after you have made the choice to change these things because you had good reasons to do so. Once that change settles in, it should again feel effortless - perhaps a few weeks into your new job or new home.
5-point Framework for Making a Choice
With that in mind, I present here a framework to find your Best Fit.
Identify the motivation behind the choice (your motivation should come from within and not from the opinions of others)
Recognise the consequences of the choice (consider the potential outcomes and how it will benefit or affect you and those you care about)
If you are happy with the motivation and consequences, make the choice. Also, trust your gut
Reconsider your choice when necessary (if a choice is reversible, undo it if necessary. if not, see what you can learn and make the most of it)
If you are happy or satisfied with your choice, move on
The grass may always seem greener on the other side but you are always on the other side from someone else's point of view. The pursuit of fulfilment is what drives most of us to want to make choices. If you are truly grateful for what you have and what you contribute, it means you have made the right choices.