We live in an era of too many choices. We can do anything, we can be anything, and we can also do nothing. It seems equally possible to to be a successful CEO as it is to play video games and live at home. Most people I talk to have dreams. They have ideas about how they might want to, one day, maybe, live their life. They are unsure of the next step to take, or what path to pursue. They have an overwhelming feeling of the need to do something coupled with a deep fear and paralysis that stops them from doing anything. They are stuck in options overwhelm.
Too many choices often makes us fearful. “What if I make the wrong one?” A mediocre life/job/partnership seems better than the unknown, or worse doing the wrong thing. We play the imaginary ‘what if’ game with each scenario and surprise, they all end catastrophically! Suddenly every move, every path, every option seems scary and terrifying, all leading you into the dark forest.
Sometimes when we’re evaluating options, we loose ourselves in the process. “If I take this well paying job, I’ll end up being one of those people who spends too much money on shoes!” Really? Remember, you’re still you. Options overwhelm tends to make us forget that and believe the worst of ourselves.
Many opportunities + fear running your life = options overwhelm.
The first step to ditching options overwhelm is identifying when you’re stuck there.
Ask yourself: Is this really true, or something the fear in my head is telling me? When anxiety and fear are running the show, it’s a red flag that you are living in options overwhelm. You can give yourself the truth test which I just learned about from the wonderful Diana Dorell. Say one thing that is totally true for you. Using myself as an example, “I love my dog.” That is the 110% truth for me. When I say it I feel expansive in my belly, warm in my heart, and relaxed in my shoulders. Once you’ve locked in how this feels, say the statement that your head is telling you. “If I’m successful, I won’t have time to spend with my dog.” (use your own truths and statements though). When I say that out loud to myself a few times, I can feel that it’s not true. Then I say (again out loud, it for real helps) That’s not true! Go away! Boom.
Once you’ve identified when you’re in a state of options overwhelm, you need to decide to gather the strength to leave it behind.
I can’t make a decision. I hear this a LOT. Can you really not make a decision? You absolutely can. You are likely living in options overwhelm where it all seems too hard. It’s ‘easier’ to avoid and not make a decision, which is of course a decision in itself. You can make a decision, but you need to give yourself time and space to do it.
What do you need now? I see so many people forcing themselves to be hyper aware and tense about their choice, which effectively suffocates the oxygen around it. What do you need? Time? Space? Journal time? A good solid conversation with your best friend or partner? To go for a run? Do some art? You know what it takes to relax you and help you breathe. Do that. Make space for this choice you’re facing to settle a bit. When you’ve properly kicked fear out (that’s not true! Go away.) you can ask yourself how you really feel, and what you really want. You can also gather your inner strength to make a choice.
What I see the most is people either thinking it’s ‘easier’ not to choose, or that they’re not strong enough to make a change. Both are false. It’s not easier to avoid your life. You’ll just find yourself farther and farther down a mud tunnel, struggling even harder to create the life you want. You’re not a powerless victim in your life, you’re the main star!
You are strong enough to change. To choose. To brave the unknown. Give yourself some time and space to breathe through it, let the fear go, and decide for yourself.
Want more? I wrote a book on this! My handy-dandy guide is for free over to the right there. If you’re needing more step by step guidance and support around making a decision, my guidebook is the best. I’d love for it to positively impact your life.
I’m Ellen! A Career & Life Coach + Decision Making Expert. You want me on your team. I’m dedicated to helping you uncork your awesome, get out of options overwhelm and get out of your own way to have the life you really want and deserve! Curious how I can impact your life? Schedule a free superhero session with me here.