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53 Comments

  1. I love social psychology and helping people make better decisions. Too many choices truly are overwhelming.
    When deciding where to apply for residency programs, I couldn’t research and interview everywhere but knew I liked warm weather, so I decided to choose by latitude and eliminated the northern 2/3 of the country!
    As for Costco, though, I find that shopping there is simpler than anywhere else because there is only one or two options for each type of item. One hair dryer, one air filter, two types of jelly. The main choice is to take it or leave it.

    • I like that you immediately eliminated the obviously bad choices for you. That’s awesome! I think that a lot of these philosophies get applied in daily life, but we take them for granted.
      Hopefully, by reading and thinking about social psychology, we can make better decisions over time. I guess the part of Costco I dread is how much there is to take or leave. I’m glad you enjoyed the article!

      • Mrs. Groovy

        I feel the same way about Costco and Sam’s Club. The enormity of the space and the volume of products become overwhelming to me.

        Easy peasy how you eliminated 2/3 of the country, Julie!

  2. I’ve started experiencing this lately. I think it’s easy to have paralysis by analysis when you don’t know EXACTLY what you want. Sometimes you have to do a process of elimination–it’s painful, but it’ll show you what you DON’T want, which is a start.

    • Elimination is painful and scary because there is a feeling of loss and humans are naturally loss-averse. However, most of the time decisions can be changed if it needs to be, knowing that helps me feel a little better.
      Spending some time exploring what you want, without focusing on analyzing the options is an excellent way to enable yourself to eliminate some obvious answers.
      I hope you can use some of these techniques to alleviate some of your recent experiences. Thanks for reading and commenting!

      • Mrs. Groovy

        Often Mr. Groovy and I have more opinionated thoughts about what we don’t want. That does help us get to what we DO want.

  3. Expectations Don’t Meet Reality is an altruism! I consider this the curse of optimists. This is doubly tue when betting on human actions.

    Love the deep dive into the causes of our problems, but I really love the Solutions!

    • Expecatations Don’t Meet Reality is something that I apply to multiple areas of my life. Anytime I am annoyed, uncomfortable, or concerned I ask myself “Well, what did you expect?” and go from there.
      I like “the curse of optimists” reading it put a smile on my face!
      I’m glad you enjoyed the solutions. I hope you take some time and apply them when they need to be.

  4. Right now… this isn’t a small decision… but I want to do exactly like you did – QUIT MY JOB. I’m 24 and believe there is more out there for me than my 9-5.

    We will see – I’m currently saving up cash in the bank and trying to eliminate PMI on my house to free up some cash flow!

    • I was in an INCREDIBLY unique situation, and I wouldn’t recommend my decision to most. I still haven’t found out if it was the right choice.
      It sounds like you are planning a lot more than I did which is great! You’re financially savvy though so I’m sure it’s not a matter of if but when for you. Keep up the hard work towards quitting and remember that Action is always better than inaction. Thanks for reading!

      • Mrs. Groovy

        At 24, just knowing there’s more to life than the 9 to 5 puts you way ahead, Erik. I hear you on the impatience, but slow and steady is the way to go. Get rid of the PMI, stash away money, and who knows, maybe you’ll stumble onto a lucrative side hustle.

  5. It impacts our time too. The Analysis Paralysis part with some many choices and decision to be made we lose free time thinking, debating, sleeping, etc all of these. I like the process of eliminate the obvious bad ones and make a decision. Even if it’s bad, in the long run you’ll learn from it and get better at it over time.

    • My time is the most valuable resource to me, which I think is true for most financially savvy people. Eliminating choices, and other time-consuming tasks, is an effective way to get that time back, so I like your observation there Brian!
      Focusing on the long-term is one great way to get over the initial fear of making a hard choice. Using it as a learning experience is also a great mentality to have!

    • Mr. Groovy

      So true, Brian. That’s the main reason I switched to my lame interpretation of a capsule wardrobe. For 99% of my fashion needs, a polo shirt and a pair of jeans will do. And now, because I don’t think about what going to wear, I have a little more time and energy for things that really matter.

  6. We’re on the cusp of a major upcoming change. I’ve been at my current employer for almost a decade. My wife is now a stay at home mom. I see the company I work for drifting towards being acquired, it’s only a matter of time. My current location also is struggling with a decrease in companies to work for. I’m faced with a decision. To quote an old song in deference to the Groovys , “should I stay or should I go now..”. In the super short term , the next six months I have made a decision… not to make a decision. The question is whether that’s analysis paralysis or the right decision. But either way the point is not making a decision is still a decision.

    • Props on being mindful that the act of not making a decision is a decision! I’m sure you’re doing a lot better than some of your co-workers who close their eyes to the signs of your company being acquired.
      If you find yourself wanting to prolong the decision after the six months are over then, it might be analysis paralysis. But right now you’re making a conscious effort not to act and observe your surroundings, and I think that’s a worthwhile effort. Good luck to you and your family!

    • Mr. Groovy

      Hahahahahahahaha! Nice, FTF. “If I go, there will be trouble. And if I stay it will be double.” Well, since you’re staying for the next six months, I hope your pay doubles.

  7. “Make a decision, any decision” – I have such a problem with this! I love to ponder but it does nothing to help my time management. In recent months I have started to trick myself with a 5 second rule and it seems to be working. When I catch myself in that pondering cycle analyzing every bit of nothing/everything I give myself a 5 second countdown then grab whatever item I’m looking at or make whatever move I was contemplating. It’s helped to disrupt that never ending cycle in my head. 😅 Great post, Kraken, and thanks for the introduction, Groovys. I’ll have to go check out Fireball Finances. I’ve been thinking about taking a FI gap year to travel for a bit (or just rest). A Buddhist monastery sounds perfect right now…if only they would allow my dog! 😉

    • Mr. Groovy

      Hey, Miss M. I’m right there with you. The 5 second rule is a great way to overcome paralysis by analysis. And here’s another trick that has really helped me with my decision-making lately: The Derek Sivers approach–if it isn’t a f%#k yeah!, it’s a f%#k no.

    • For me I use the five second rule to beat procrastination, I’ve never thought about using it for making a decision. I’ll make sure to use it for that in the future.
      As for the monastery there were tons of dogs, however they were mostly wild. It wasn’t relaxing in the way a beach is relaxing but more in the way getting hard work done is relaxing. It worked for me but it doesn’t work for everyone.
      Thanks for checking out the post!

  8. I remember when I was freelancing and working hard to get my blog off the ground, and going to FinCon where you were being taught a zillion ways to market your brand. I was so overwhelmed. But I think if you get quiet, you start to realize where your strengths are. Those are the avenues to pursue.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Nailed it, Tonya. Mrs. Groovy and I have stayed away from FinCon precisely for the reasons you mentioned. We still don’t even know what our blog is about, beyond sharing our FI journey and our twisted thoughts on personal finance. Perhaps in a year or so we’ll know what our strengths and mission are. Until then, the cornucopia of information provided by FinCon will be overwhelming (i.e. more or less useless). At this stage of the game, will still need quiet.

      • I would LOVE if you guys came to FinCon! I went for the first time last year. It was slightly overwhelming because, as you said, there were a hundred and one different ways to do things,

        Nonetheless, it was still super fun to go to and I did learn a lot!

    • I’m glad I’m not the only one with the issue of being faced with a dozen things I could do in a day.
      Determining which are important and which aren’t is a struggle but I’ve found that making a decision of what’s important and focusing on it is more powerful than anything. Most of the time it turns out to not be the right thing to focus on. However, I take that lesson and focus on something different!

  9. Great post – for anyone with YouTube Red I highly recommend checking out the episode Freedom of Choice of Vsauce’s Mind Field series. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lmI7NnMqwLQ

    Personally I feel myself affected by analysis paralysis fairly often. Getting started investing was so difficult because of the plethora of choices, settling on a movie for movie night becomes too much of an affair (Netflix, Redbox, etc). I like choice but its also nice to have it limited somewhat, such as restaurants with small menus. I’m much more likely to choose something new when I’m not agonizing over all the options.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Haha! I forgot all about restaurant menus. I always want so many things–because everything looks great–that when it comes time to place my order, I invariably go with my default burger and fries. Aaarrrggghhh!!!

      • The abundance of choice is a gift and a curse. After I learned how stressful a menu can be I started doing my friends a favor. I pick out two things I think they might like and recommend them. They still have the whole menu to choose from but I’ve noticed that they will typically pick one of the choices I recomend. This also helps them alleviate the stress of abundance, and makes the whole restaurant experience more enjoyable. Now I just need to get them to do the same to me!

  10. Sometimes the choices presented to you depend on the resources that you have. Without a healthy retirement account, we have no choice but to keep working to find extra sources of income to reach financial freedom.

    • Mr. Groovy

      I love it, Ms. FAF. Your comment delivers a lot of wisdom. Could it be that multiple options in one area of life are a curse, while multiple options in another area are a blessing? After all, 50 shampoo options isn’t anything to rejoice. But having many options when it comes to work–retire, work part time, take a year off, or take a six-month gig in a glamorous city–has got to be infinitely better than having one option: work or starve. Thanks for stopping by, Ms. FAF. You really made me think.

      • This outlook tickles my brain a little. It seems that we are playing an odd game of trying to place ourselves in a position of optimum choices. We try to save enough money to have optimal career choices while at the sametime we put ourselves in positions where we have a limited selection of shampoo. I assume there’s a balance, but I’m still trying to find it for myself.

  11. Insightful post. I know I don’t want a boss even though I have a very good one today. That can change. Fi allows me to change too if that happens. I want freedom to explore my passions on my own time.

    • Exactly Dave! I agree with your mindset of FI allowing you to change. FI might be the greatest enabler of choice, I think most risks are reduced when we have money backing us up. Props on pursuing your passion on your terms!

      • Mrs. Groovy

        FI provides the freedom to follow your passions, try something new, take chances – or sit on your butt if that’s what you feel like doing! Even a good boss is still the b-o-s-s.

        • Taking chances on trying something new makes life so much more interesting. You are right. A good boss is still a boss. A good boss can also move on and be replaced with a bad boss. It is a blessing to have options and to not be stuck in toxic situations when they arise.

  12. Nice post, Kraken and Groovys, thanks for sharing. I’ve been known to easily overthink things and want to change reality. Such a losing battle. 😉 What does helps me, is to remember my personal values. Aligning my decisions with them often eliminates many ‘wrong for me’ choices. Also, simplifying/minimizing wardrobes, diets, routines, house stuff, etc. helps too as it automatically reduces certain choices.

    • Mrs. Groovy

      Thanks, Amy. I’m totally an over-thinker. It’s exhausting sometimes.

      Mr. Groovy got so excited when he realized he was being “fashionable” by wearing many of the same clothes all the time. Now he just says he has a “capsule” wardrobe.

        • It’s great that you know what your personal values are Amy, that’s a quick way to eliminate wrong answers. Most people don’t even know what their values or priorities are and are like a ship without a rudder.
          I took minimizing my wardrobe to the extreme. I was living out of a backpack while I was in China and only packed two t-shirts and a dress shirt. I now use that wardrobe in the states. In the morning the only question I have to ask myself is “Was yesterday a red shirt or a blue shirt day?”
          I’m glad you enjoyed the article and are already minimizing choices!

  13. I love these kind of posts, as it speaks to the psychology (crime) degree that I am currently doing. I had not heard of settlement regret before though.

    I try to simplify everything, automate everything, and I have a million lists which help me remain organised. The less decisions I have to make, the better.

    • Mrs. Groovy

      I’m glad you enjoyed it, Francesca!

      I’m taking Kraken’s advice in a strange direction this week. I decided to implement a 5-day repetitive eating plan. Yup, same exact meals for the five weekdays. Remove the decision making/choices and see if I can shake up this diet rut I’m in.

      • Francesca, Settlement Regret was just the name I put to Dr. Schwartz’s description of being unhappy when the decision didn’t pan out. I’d never heard of it before he mentioned it either.
        Mrs. Groovy how did your repetitive eating plan go? The flavor simplicity is one thing I like about Mexican food. It’s a formula of rice + beans + meat + tortilla. The size and presentation change, but it’s all effectively the same thing.

        • Mrs. Groovy

          The repetitive eating plan is going pretty well! I’m sticking with bland stuff like yogurt, oatmeal, hard boiled eggs, plain chicken, salad, fruit, and sweet potatoes. I switch it up on the weekends and we’re going to add back in fresh fish this week so I only have 4 days of the same meals. I told Mr. Groovy I’d cook him whatever he wants but he’s sticking to my plan for dinners and eats a different lunch than I do.

          I like the taste of Mexican food but I don’t like the way it makes me feel. There’s way too much salt and cheese and the portions are massive. I’m not what you would consider overweight so for me to trim even 5 pounds takes some effort. And I’m exercising but I’m a firm believer weight loss has more to do with diet.

          Thanks for the link to the secret menu!

  14. Haha, this is why I always tell people how amazing In-N-Out Burger is. Their menu is SO SIMPLE. You only have three different options to choose from (they do have a “secret menu” though).

    There are no salads, small bites, pies, different styles of fries, etc. It’s simple and straighforward.

  15. Great post! I likewise geek out about the concept of choice because choice is a fundamental aspect of both individual liberty and economic liberty. I witness true beauty when your life choices align with your personal values (i.e. individual liberty) and when you voluntarily choose to trade with others to obtain the goods and services you deem valuable (i.e. economic liberty).

    But as evidenced in this post, the concept of choice has been questioned by some in recent years. While there might be some validity to the paradox of choice (although its validity is questionable), I wonder how many people think about the alternative to abundant free choice.

    I wrote a post a few weeks ago that dives into that exact subject. As I point out in the post:

    “First, if there is such a thing as ‘too much choice,’ then how much choice is ‘the right amount’ of choice? And second – a question of utmost importance – who gets to decide the answer to the first question?

    Ironically, the answer to that second question is limited to exactly two choices: either 1) the free marketplace will ‘decide’ how much choice is the right amount of choice by aggregating the diffuse, organic demands of we individual consumers, or 2) an agent of government will exercise concentrated power to arbitrarily decide how much choice is the right amount of choice and impose their decision onto society.”

    (Here’s the link to the full post if you’re interested: https://livingthepursuit.com/civicliteracy/moral-case-abundant-free-choice-aka-liberty/)

    Thanks again for writing about this! I just discovered this website after being referred here by a new friend (Jillian) — and I’m glad I did. I’m likewise interested in the concept of liberty, particularly as related to civics, economics, and personal initiative. I blog and podcast about the subjects at LivingThePursuit.com. I look forward to consuming more content from this site!

      • Mrs. Groovy

        Thanks so much for your thoughtful contribution, Ross. I look forward to spending some time on your blog, and in particular, looking at the post you pointed out. But I wanted to answer you first, in a timely fashion.

        Any friend of Jillian’s is a friend of ours. It’s nice to “meet” someone who’s passionate about freedom and liberty the way Mr. Groovy is. It’s taken me 15 years of marriage to understand where he’s coming from, sometimes. I’d love to see the two of your put your heads together. You sound just like him with your comment about “we the people” and the “free market”.

        • Thanks for saying hi Mrs. Groovy! I look forward to connecting with you all further. It seems that our interests very much align — it is exciting to connect with other liberty lovers!

          I see that Mr. Groovy is on Twitter (I just followed him). Are you guys on social media anywhere else?

          I hope today is just the first of many interactions to come! 🙂

          • Mrs. Groovy

            Thanks, Ross. I look forward to connecting more with you too. Mr. Groovy set up a Pinterest account but we’re hardly active there and we’re not on FaceBook. Maybe one day, but right now we’re trying to keep an even keel on how many hours a week we put into blogging.

            I also saw that you subscribed to our posts – thank you! I was reading some of the articles on your site last night and I’m going over right now to subscribe.

      • Ross thanks for the comprehensive and insightful comment!
        When you mentioned the two options of who gets to decide how much choice is enough I thought of the difference between America and China.
        China has blocked Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and almost all other social media platforms. If a Chinese citizen wants to follow the rules and participate on a social media platform, they have to use WeChat. From my experience, it’s a decent app, but it pales in comparison to Facebook.
        Then I learned that the only search engines that the Great Firewall of China lets pass are Bing and Baidu. Baidu is almost exclusively in Chinese and Bing is… well it’s Bing. For my two month visit to China, I shelled out the extra dough for a VPN to have access to Google.
        I think Google has become the powerhouse it is today for a lot of reasons. I think one of those reasons is because we the people let the free market choose who gets our internet traffic. Whereas in China the government has the final word on that choice.

        • Thanks again for your great post Kraken! I was not aware of such major restrictions in China — and yes, that’s a great example of where/how decisions are made when it comes to the concept of choice. Relying on the market to determine the amount of choice goes hand in hand with freedom — so, I suppose it’s no surprise that China restricts access. Despite huge advancements in industry, etc. made in that country, it’s certainly far from a “free” nation.

          On a completely unrelated note, I see the photo of Catan in your Twitter feed… We were apparently destined to meet. Here’s my Instagram post of the same from the other day. https://www.instagram.com/p/BSotUIQg9BG

          I look forward to connecting with you further! 🙂