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A Crisis of Choice

A couple of days ago, I was reading Mittani’s article on TenTonHammer about the Glorious Internet Spaceship Game, EVE Online. It was concerned with the concept of a crisis of choice as faced by people in a position of limitless possibilities.

Essentially, when faced with limitless choices, people are unable to choose anything or choose wisely because the opportunity cost of choosing a path is not choosing any of the others. This manifests itself in the Real World most often as lack of direction or indecision.

This puzzles me.

Why should an over-abundance of choice be problematic? Whenever this argument is brought out, it instantly makes me think that the person making the choice is at a point where selecting “Option A” will immediately mean that options B through Z are somehow rendered forever unavailable. This is a strange presupposition. Why not go with a given opportunity and see where you end up? You can be fairly certain that all the other choices will still be there!

What I’m trying to get at is this:

Too many people seem to be stuck in this mentality, meaning they can’t deviate from a pre-planned course that they have envisaged or have had imposed on them. This is not due to a lack of choice, but somehow due to a belief that any deviation will lead to everything crashing down around them.

Why don’t people just say “yes” to random things more?

I’m considering getting a ski instructors’ license. It will cost ~£5000 to go on a course, including flights, accommodation, course fees, etc. That £5000 going towards a qualification that I may never use would be considered by many to be a waste of money and time. But is it? Yes, for that money I could’ve bought a car or put it towards a house or something. But the opportunity cost of not doing it is that I don’t get to experience something awesome, learn new skills and meet new people!

So what I’m saying is: “Say yes more!”.

  • If a friend calls up asking if you want to go wander the streets at 2 in the morning, grab your thermos and warm coat and go play!
  • If you’re invited to do a skydive for free instead of spending the day cleaning, do it!
  • If you’ve always wanted to learn how to fingerpaint, go to the Early Learning Centre, buy some fingerpaints and spend an evening getting messy!

And finally, if you think that whatever you think of can’t be done because “I’m not good at this like other people”, remember:

There are no other people. There is just us. People are amazing and their capacity for achievement is limitless. That includes you.