Eliminating choice

Have you ever found yourself clearly out of your ‘zone of expertise’?

I did recently, when I found out I was shortlisted as a regional finalist in the Forward Ladies Women in Business Awards and realised I had to figure out what to wear!

Recognising I was out of my depth, I enlisted the help of personal image consultant Lyn Bromley of First Impressions Training.

What I discovered, was not only a fascinating education in dress shape, shade and style, but also a valuable lesson in productivity.

Our day started with a colour and style analysis. It amazed me how much detail and depth we went into – shades of colour in six different dimensions, body shape, face shape, proportions, as well as personality – all to determine the difference between a dress that makes you look good, and a dress that wears you.

But the result when we went shopping, was that we could eliminate whole racks in the shops at a glance. We could hold up a dress on the hanger, apply a few key criteria and know whether it was likely to be a good style or not. Instead of my usual method of taking half the shop with me into the fitting rooms, I only really had to try things on to check for fit, rather than an elusive ‘does this suit me?’

It made the whole shopping experience much easier, by eliminating choice.

As Greg McKeown puts it in his book Essentialism,

“We often think of choice as a thing. But choice is not a thing. Our options may be things, but a choice – a choice is an action. It is not just something we have but something we do.”

There is a difference between having a choice (options), and making a choice (action). And frankly when there is too much choice, we risk not being able to choose.

Shops are designed to give us plenty of choice – not just because there are lots of different customers to serve, but naturally it encourages us to buy more. When we are not sure between this dress or that dress, we might buy both, and see how we feel when we get home.

The problem for us though, is that we take those unmade decisions home with us, and end up with a wardrobe full of ‘maybe’s instead of a selection of ‘hell yeah’s – and the same thing happens with our to-do lists.

Far too often we add things indiscriminately onto our to-do lists, and find ourselves faced with a myriad of options. We dive into ‘doing’ mode, without spending time ‘thinking’ through our criteria and eliminating our choices, because ‘doing’ feels productive, and ‘thinking’ feels like a luxury we don’t have time for. But the reverse is true.

Thinking is the work. When we spend time eliminating our choices, it means that all our ‘doing’ is spent on what really matters. When we spend time getting clear on what really matters, we establish the criteria that allows us to eliminate choice easier – and earlier – rather than agonising later.

A decision made once saves a thousand tiny decisions later.

How clear are you on what really matters? Do you have clear criteria? Or are you having to revisit the same decision over and over again?

  • Jim Hetherton

    Nice one Grace, thinking is REAL work, thats why most folk don’t , it’s a 4 letter word. Did you get a gong in the awards? 🙂

    • It’s happening next month Jim, I’ll let you know 🙂

  • Diane Warburton

    I like this. I’m more of a do-er than a thinker but I have noticed that changing as I enter my second half of my first year in business. I like alot. Ta! 🙂

    • My pleasure as always Diane – I’m a doer too, and I’ve found thinking supercharges my doing 🙂 Enjoy!

  • Peter Anderton

    Grace – once again you have excelled yourself – this is brilliant!

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