Heidi Isern

writer. thinker. whiskey drinker.

The Paradox of Choice: Making decisions in careers, dating, and pizza

Last winter I authored a few posts mentioning the paradox of choice.  Once when it came to retail assortment decisions and another when it came to making holiday plans.

The conclusion was the same—with too many choices we become paralyzed.  We are so focused on making the “BEST” choice that we are afraid to commit to any decision worried that we may pass up on something “better.”   From dating to ordering what vegetables I want on my pizza, choice has always been hard for me.  I’ve recently defaulted on both dating and pizza (large quantities of carbs and men just aren’t healthy), but other choices in my life continue to perplex me, giving me premature crow’s feet.

My perplexed state wasn’t because I didn’t know what to do with myself….it was because I wanted to do it all!  With opportunities for new clients, new ventures, new articles, and new stellar positions, I had a very hard time focusing on one path.  I was the type of girl that wanted to run down all roads…..at 100 miles per hour.

While struggling to keep up my directionless warp speed, an inspirational message came my way.  It wasn’t through reading Buddhist mediation books (and I have plenty) or taking another trip to find myself (although returning to Bali WAS appealing), but through my Twitter feed.

Starla Sireno, my friend and founder of the Fearless Women’s Entrepreneur Network tweeted “So easy 2 forget that business doesn’t start w/ the biz plan-it starts w/ knowing who u are.”

Thanks Starla.  So….Back to basics.  Maybe we don’t need to sprint down every opportunity with robust business plans high on adrenaline.   Maybe if we stop to reflect, we’ll discover that there is one unique plan for each of us.

Who am I?

As a self proclaimed chameleon this question was VERY hard to answer.  I seemed to blend in anywhere from cocktail parties to campfire ho downs.  I could alter from eating cornmeal thick crust with a starving musician to Italian thin crust with a successful financier.  Adaption makes choosing more challenging because the “best” has so many possibilities. However, even as my outer skin changed to fit the elements around me, I had core that stayed solid.  Perhaps there was only one “best” for it.

I put my choices on hold and instead took the time to ask myself when do I feel the most ‘Me’?  My mind reeled back to my time last fall. I wasn’t in a fancy soiree being wined and dined by handsome intellectuals.  Nor was I pouring over excel spreadsheets in corporate hotel eating pizza.  Rather I was practically living out of my car driving across the United States to interview women.  Even if I felt compelled to temporarily try them on, cubicles, picket fences, and conformed titles had always constrained me.  I’m far happier exploring unique people, far off places, and crazy ideas.   I’ve written about them almost every day of my life since that bloody poem I drafted when I was nine years old.  With Starla’s quote, I  realized that a happy ‘me’ type business lies meeting people, telling their stories, and inspiring others to take risks.  Just like I do.

So why do I keep doing ‘non me’ things?  How do I create a “me” plan? And will a “me” plan help me weed out my choice stockpile? Can we all really make businesses off of ourselves?

I called up the amazing life and career coach Susannah Scully for some advice.  She put me to work and asked me to map out five and ten year goals by explaining everything I wanted in my life including the appliances in my kitchen.  I wasn’t sure how a bright red Francis Francis espresso machine fit into this…but then it hit me.  My career had to afford my high end coffee consumption….and time to write while drinking it.

Every choice we make has to support our long term goals.  From what we want to be known for to who we want to share our high end espresso with.

Perhaps after I make progress on my next “me” venture, I’ll think about tacking pizza ordering.  But first, it’s time to create a business plan.

“It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”

-Joanne Kathleen Rowling

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