Saturday, January 7, 2012

Decision Making in an Era of Too Many Choices

We know that planning a family vacation when you have to satisfy several peoples' needs and worry about a budget, convenience, and good value can be stressful... if not totally overwhelming. This guest post from Jean Blackmer, author of MomSense: A Common-Sense Guide to Confident Mothering (and other books), deals with just this issue in daily life.

I stood in the produce section of the grocery store looking at the variety of peppers. I picked up a green one, examined it for brown spots and gave it a gentle squeeze to make sure it wasn't mushy. It felt solid so I put it in my cart and imagined how I might actually get my kids to eat something green other than a gummy worm.
Then I noticed the red, yellow and even orange peppers. Maybe I should buy one of each? I wondered. As I scanned the produce section I noticed another area where more peppers were displayed like colorful crayons - the organic section. Maybe I should buy organic? I wondered for the millionth time.
Could buying a pepper really become such a time-consuming, mind boggling decision?
In our world today? Yes.
A paradox exists: we are fortunate to have so many choices, but this often causes difficulty in decision-making and may lead to regret with decisions. In the book Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less, author Barry Schwartz builds a convincing case of how our culture of abundance robs us of satisfaction. "As the number of choices we face increases, freedom of choice eventually becomes a tyranny of choice. Routine decisions take so much time and attention that it becomes difficult to get through the day."
A mom's day is already difficult enough, dealing with toddler meltdowns, sleep issues, food choices, sibling squabbling and (fill in the blank) ____________.
How can a mama be confident in her decision making on these issues and so much more, and not get bogged down in the process?
Here are some ideas:
•       Decide what really matters. For example, if how to get your baby to sleep matters more to you than what type of applesauce to purchase then you'll spend more time and energy on the sleep solutions.
•       Limit your choices. Limit yourself to looking at three different stores, ask only three different people you respect for advice, and visit only three reputable online sites for ideas on the decision you're dealing with.
•       Don't compare your decisions to others. Each mom is as unique as her own finger print. What you decide may be different than your mother, sister or friend and that's ok. Trust you've made the right decision for your unique situation.
•       Once you make a decision- decide to move on. Don't allow yourself to second guess your decision.  We all make mistakes and actually can learn from them.
As moms we make practically as many decisions in a day as we take breaths, not only for ourselves but for our children too. Becoming confident in our decisions will help the whole family because confidence is contagious.
"If you don't know what you're doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You'll get his help, and won't be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly and believingly, without a second thought." James 1:5-6

Jean Blackmer is also Publishing Manager for MOPS International, Mothers of Preschoolers and lives in Boulder, Colorado, with her husband, Zane, and their three sons.

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