My toddler was in the shopping cart and my preschooler was next to it. We were ripping through the grocery aisles, determined to make it through in 23 minutes.
Everything was carefully planned to avoid the Houdini escape and tomato sauce evisceration that happened last time.
It all went awry in the personal care aisle with just 4 items to go.
The toothbrush. This should be easy, right? Yet, there I am, surrounded by 1 trillion different types and a sudden inability to choose.
What kind did I usually use? Did it have those rubber bristles? Was it ergonomic? Was it getting my teeth whiter?
The options were dizzying and I couldn’t decide.
Sensing my indecision, my preschooler takes off to “play” with the blood pressure machine and my toddler kicks over the chapstick display. Little tubules are rolling every which way while shoppers are approaching.
“Choose! Choose, dammit!” I think.
I’ll just choose one on sale. Hundreds are on sale! And what if I factor in the 2-per-package ones? My brain can’t process the math and my heart is racing because I hear my preschooler in the distance cutting in front of an actual senior to take her own blood pressure. And shoppers are staring at me all judgy while I kick the careening chapstick tubes under the shelf with my toe. Then my toddler grabs a fistful of my hair while kicking off both of his boots.
I stuff a random toothbrush into the cart.
We forgo the rest of the items on the list and beeline to my preschooler who’s shouting “Mommy, you’re 39, right?!” FFS. No point in anti-aging lotion.
I apologize at the checkout and sheepishly suggest some cleanup in the toothbrush aisle.
It takes a solid hour to calm all the way down from the episode.
I blame the toothbrushes. Why so many options? Is that really necessary?
There’s too much choice.
And choice overload leads to decision fatigue.
It’s like trying to make a well-considered choice after 4 glasses of rose. Except you’re sober.
I really wish the world would revert to simpler times but it looks like we’re going to have to sort this one out ourselves.
The way around this is to limit choices.
We may need to go somewhere else so we don’t get bombarded by so much choice that we need a nap. My neighbor swears by the teeny, local-produce grocery store with aisles precisely two carts wide. Like the kind from when we were young.
Mark Zuckerberg only wears grey t-shirts. One choice = no decision required = no decision-fatigue. He gets to save his willpower for tougher problems.
Vow to choose from the first 3 or 4 choices presented. FOMO will kick in and you can tell it to relax, you’re protecting your sanity.
In the end, my plaque-removing, super-whitening, extra-sensitive, on sale, ergonomic toothbrush is actually an improvement on the old one. So sometimes a random grab when the stakes are low works out just fine.
Where do you find yourself overwhelmed with choice? How can you limit choices for some relief? Let us know in the comments!
Do Less. Live More.
PS: SIX DAYS LEFT! Are you looking to Overcome Overwhelm and in the Greater Toronto Area? Come join me for an in-person workshop! Details here: www.jen-reed.com/serenity-catalyst. Spaces limited.