Tyler Jorgenson

One Entrepreneur's Journey To Find Greatness


Choice Paralysis

Have you ever stood at (or in many cases IN) your closet staring at your clothes unable to decide on what to wear?  Recently I was standing in front of my dress shirts trying to decide which one to wear.  I realized that I had a lot of choice so picking a nice one should be easy.  I counted and realized that at that moment I had over 50 clean dress shirts to chose from.  I was stuck there for a while, not able to decide on which one to wear.

In the video below Barry Schwartz explains two negative effects of having so much choice.

1. Paralysis instead of liberation
2. Lower satisfaction once a choice is made

We’ve all experienced the first effect. The closet question outlines how often this may happen every day. Standing there in front of my rack of 50 dress shirts I waste 5-10 minutes in the morning just trying to make a simple choice. Finally, I chose the blue shirt. The light blue shirt, french cuff, 100% cotton, classic straight point collar with custom monogramming. I insert my collar stays, that choice was easy. I reach for my cuff links and freeze another moment as I chose between the fancy ones or conservative ones. Finally, I’ dressed.

The second effect follows about a few minutes later. Walking out of the room I give myself a quick once over in the mirror and it hits me. What if I wore the white shirt. The white shirt, cotton/poly blend, designer texture, medium spread collar and normal cuffs without the monogram. Who doesn’t look good in white, I think to myself, but then a sound jogs me back to the reality that the 10 minutes I burned picking out a shirt have set me behind schedule and I must go as there are more choices to be unhappy about awaiting me.

“Opportunity costs subtract from the satisfaction of what we chose even when what we chose is terrific.” – Schwartz

Why this topic?

Think about whatever it is you’re working on.  When Henry Ford started selling the Model T he offered the car buyers a choice.  Said Ford, “Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black.”  Sometimes, less is more.  I remember seeing a picture of a small coffee house that had added, over the years, a host of other services.  Soon it was Coffee, ATM, Lottery, Toys, Taxidermy and Nails.  I don’t think those were the actual services but the point is they were shooting for too big of a market, everybody.

Don’t sell to everybody.  Sell to somebody.  Pick a market and be ok with occasionally letting a customer pass by.  The same goes for my closet.  I’m getting rid of over 30 dress shirts this weekend, and the idea of fewer options already makes me smile.

6 Responses to “Choice Paralysis”

  1. sara Says:

    makes me smile too, cuz im hoping a couple end up in our closet hahaha 🙂

  2. Your wife Says:

    How come your wife doesn’t have so many clothes choices??? =) My turn to shop while you get rid of stuff. XO!

  3. Tyler Says:

    Come and get em Sara.

  4. Pop Says:

    Not like your Pop. 5 slacks, 10 shirts. All shades of gray/black/blue so they all go together and I don’t have to worry about matching. Just pick what is clean and wear it. Nice to see you are simplifying! Nicer to see you are philosophizing.

  5. Nell Says:

    Nice post! I have seen that video before and plan on de-cluttering my closet (as well as my girlfriends, but she doesn’t know it yet) pretty soon. Sometimes having way too many choices holds us back from what we really need to focus on.

    As a side note, I began using Wurkin Stiffs Collar Stays. They are magnetic collar stays that can really give a different look to one shirt. I get no money from them in case you were wondering, but really love them. You should check them out.

  6. Eliminating Excess | Tyler Jorgenson Says:

    […] the book one was to eliminate clutter and excess from our lives.  I talked about the concept of choice paralysis a while back.  I started in my closet and eliminated these 10 pairs of shoes.  Why did I have an […]

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