We live in a world of unlimited choices. A visit to a local supermarket is clear enough proof of the age of abundance we live in. Dozens of breakfast cereals, soft drinks, cheeses, meats; whatever you can imagine, there are likely tens or even hundreds of products competing for your attention. A century ago, even royalty lacked such a diversity of offerings. This plethora of choice is not limited to the things we consume. We have the opportunity to choose any occupation we want and live almost anywhere in the world we want.
Choices are great, everyone can get exactly what they want. The corollary to increased choice, is that it becomes harder to choose. Think back to the beginning of the last century when Henry Ford offered his model T automobiles in any color, as long as it was black. “Okay, I’ll take the… black one. Good choice, ma’am.” Choosing is easy when you have no choice. Choosing becomes near impossible when there are too many choices.
Every good salesman knows not to present too many choices to customers, because they will choose to think about it and not buy. Present two or three different products and it is very easy to compare and find the one best suited to your particular needs.
With so much variety in all aspects of our lives people are afraid to commit to anything. You don’t want to accept a job opportunity because you are not sure if you want to do that for the rest of your life. You don’t want to marry your long time partner because, who knows, maybe someone better will come along, someday. You don’t want to start a business because you don’t want to get locked into anything.
People are afraid to commit to anything. Commitment means forcing yourself to choose one course of action. The wrong choice will invariably bring lots of regret. So the easy thing to do is never commit. Never choose. The only problem with that is you have made a choice. You have chosen to not choose. Not choosing means you chose to be mediocre and put a half-hearted effort into your life.
It is easy to be afraid of making the wrong choice. No one wants a lifetime of regret. The problem is that we tend to over-exaggerate the consequences of making a bad decision. People are so afraid of wasting a few years of their life by going down a wrong path, that they end up wasting their whole lives by never choosing any path. Dedicated and focused effort towards something that fails miserably is far more rewarding and challenging than just playing it safe.
You know what? Great failures are far more impressive than living a mediocre life and never trying anything remotely risky or challenging. And another thing, people who fail greatly today are not necessarily going to keep on failing in the future. Someday one of their choices might bring great success. Even if it doesn’t bring success, they will have experienced life more fully and authentically than all of the people living in their suburbs, driving to jobs they hate for 40 odd years.
Choose! Commit! Set your mind on a life partner, project, task, business, cause, or charity and give it 110% of your effort. No concentrated effort is ever a failure, regardless of the result. The only failures are those who could have done better and didn’t.