Stuck in the Paradox of Choice
Over the last month I’ve had several conversations with people who are just stuck; their unhappy with their current place and want to do or be something different, but they don’t know what.
When talking to each of these people it became obvious that they were stuck in the paradox of choice. That is, in front of them they each had a variety of choices as to what job they could do, where they could live, and how they could choose to live their life. And while being in the position of having so many choices was great, they found themselves unsure of which of their choices to pursue, or even whether they should pursue any of them at all.
In all essence they were stalled by the number of possibilities in front of them.
Why before What
In each of the conversations with those people who where were stuck, I couldn’t help but challenge them on whether they really knew what they wanted to achieve in the first place. That is, when we know the destination, assessing which path to take becomes easier.
When I raised the question of ‘Why’ – what is the purpose you are trying to fulfil in considering any of these options – they each looked at me blankly.
“Surely it’s only when we understand why something is important to us in terms of contributing to our purpose, that we can understand what the best options could be for fulfilling it.” I stated.
In the face of Uncertainty – Focus on the Process!
The question of purpose is not always an easy one to solve. Often, when we haven’t properly considered this – what is the purpose of our lives – we sit faced with a blank field of uncertainty in front of us.
Unfortunately, as is wired into our physiology, uncertainty for most human beings breads anxiety and fear. And to resolve this, we rapidly fumble around trying find a solution, often unconsciously clasping onto the most convenient solution rather than that which will help us truly fulfil our potential and live our purpose.
To ease our anxiety and fear in the face of uncertainty however, we don’t need to jump straight to solution mode; we don’t need to ‘fix-it’ as quickly as possible. Instead, we can fill the space with a process that helps us on the journey to find the solution.
Process = Journey of Discovery
The recommendation I gave to each person I spoke with is to hold the tension of wanting to find an answer and use your energy to go on a journey of discovery. To guide them on this journey I encouraged them to consider a few simple questions:
– Who am I ? (who do you really want to live your life as?)
– Why am I here? (what contribution do you wish to make in this world?)
Through considering these questions I’ve already seen these people explore different alternatives, connect with different people who give them energy and most importantly, contribute more positively to those around them.
The answers in life are not always easy and obvious but embarking on a journey of discovery, where our focus is on fulfilling our potential and purpose, is what helps us live in a state of unconditional happiness.