How many times have you found yourself paralyzed on Netflix? I scroll aimlessly on that site. There are so many choices and sometimes that causes me to abandon the site altogether. It’s a paradox – I have so many choices but I can’t choose.
I’ve found that fewer choices deliver the most happiness. I believe that’s true for your startup and your life. It turns out, that old wornout phrase,‘less is more,’ is dead-on. Psychologist Barry Schwartz wrote the book, The Paradox of Choice ten years ago, his argument still holds water,
“Instead of increasing our sense of well-being, an abundance of choice is increasing our levels of anxiety, depression, and wasted time.”
This hits entrepreneuers hard because their freedom leads to an abundance of choices at work and life. Some of my favorite startup founders have learned the paradox of choice and have taken advantage of it.
“Complexity is your enemy. Any fool can make something complicated. It’s hard to make something simple.”
said the inspiring entrepreneuer Richard Branson. I don’t think people realize how complexity hurts their business and their lives. Have you ever been to a restaurant that serves one thing? I love those restaurants. I admire their radical simplicity — there’s something legendary about them. When you’re highly selective about your product, your company stands out. When you're highly selective about your life, you stand out.
Have you heard of FOMO? It's the fear of missing out. That's what an abundance of choices breeds. That's why I wander on Netflix. I don't want to choose anything because I'm hoping I may something better. FOMO kills contentment. Like starring at Netflix, too many choices make life more complex. What we long for is simplicity, even though we may not label it that way. The ability to clear away the clutter and just be.
When life gets complex, I start forgetting things, I start stressing, and anger boils at the surface. I’ve started simplifying my life by shaving my head, removed the TV from my bedroom, and wearing the same shirt to work everyday. It’s been liberating.
The Proliferation of Choice
By eliminating choices all kinds of good things happen, we start building our focus muscle, we find a fresh ability to be in the moment, life becomes less superficial, and we reach a new depth with others. Choice used to be more limited. The further you go back in time the fewer the choices someone had. Now, I can have virtually anything I choose.
• What do I want to buy? Jeans, iPhones, used books, toilet paper? Amazon has it all, and delivers in 2 hours.
• What music do I want to listen to? Apple Music gives me unlimited access.
• What movie do I want to watch? With the combined powers of iTunes and Netflix it’s all available.
• What do I want to know? I carry the internet around in my pocket. A simple Google search opens up the entire world wide web in an nano second.
What We Need
What our generation needs today is less choice. They need people who will help them choose what’s essential, enduring, wise, and good. That's why I've started removing choices from my life and fought to keep Lightstock simple. My charge to you is to build products that do just that. But let's not stop there, let's build lives that point the way. Lives that embody the phrase, less is more.