Why Too Much Choice Is Bad For Your NOWBEING

There’s a classic 20 second ‘Coffee scene” from the 1991 Steve Martin movie ‘LA Story’ where there’s a group of diners ordering coffee after their meal, as the waiter moves around the table, the coffee order goes something like this,
“I’ll have a decaf coffee”,
“I’ll have a decaf espresso”,
“I’ll have a double decaf cappuccino”,
Do you have any decaf coffee ice cream?”,
“I’ll have a double decaf, half caff, caffeinated coffee…with a twist of lemon”,
“I’ll have a twist of lemon in mine also”,
“I’ll also have a twist of lemon”.
(click the link to watch)

That scene, actually the whole movie, has its tongue firmly in its cheek – gently taking the proverbial piss out of the pretentious “LA scene”.

Roll forward some 30 years, and a coffee order, similar to the one from LA Story, would now be considered a dream order, simple, easy and straight forward…sans lemon twist.

Can I use your dictaphone?
No use your finger like everyone else….

These days, because of the demands of choice that we now inflict on ourselves, being a wait-person and taking a coffee order is like dictating someone’s personal ‘biometric-finger print’.
The choices not only available, but expected by all of us these days, really is something else.
How on earth did we survive on International Roast for all those years.

In 2021 cafes & restaurants not only have to offer:
Caffeinated and decaffeinated cappuccino’s, flat whites, black, espresso, hot chocolate etc, and skim or full fat milk, sugar or sweetener…like the good ol days.

But now cup-of-Joe-public expects the following:
Hilo milk, low-fat milk, oat milk, coconut milk, almond milk, soy milk, lactose free milk, macadamia milk…
Customers want their milk poured half full, three quarters full or ‘topped-up’ or even half milk and half water.  Specifying the actual ‘temperature of the milk they ‘want’ these days seems popular…often requests for an exact temperate is becoming less uncommon.
Another uncommon option is the request to have their ‘milk on the side’, like, not mixed with the coffee…like…in a seperate cup/jug.
Alternate sweeteners like honey and stevia are required to be stocked along side the regular common garden-variety sugar varieties.

The latest ‘trend’ gathering momentum, and my current favourite, is not only do the outlets need to provide up to 6-8 milk varieties etc, but the customer now wants to know the ‘brand’ of milk being used by the venueI shit you not
And the kicker?
When you don’t have the ‘right brand‘ the customer, aka an adult, actually says YUK! I don’t like that brand”I wish I was exaggerating  

So, coffee ordering circa 2021 can go something like this…
“I’ll have a decaf, traditional long macchiato, with half almond milk…a large one…with honey on the side…extra hot!!!…and in a take-away cup (and just as you’re about to walk-off and process this excerpt from War n Peace into the POS, you hear)….oh wait….what brand of almond milk do you use?’

What’s the magic word??

Not only does the year21 customer order that with a legitimate straight face, but ‘we’ (the hospitality workers collective) scribe the order unquestioningly with a somewhat stunned superglued-smile on our face..and a fetching eye-twitch.

How did it get to this…and where will we be in another 30 years time?

 

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I’m no psychologist…
BUT, see it’s a big but, I reckon this ‘choice-overload’ that we now both ’embrace & expect’, in all aspects of our life is, I think, eroding our wellbeing, and causing us to suffer ‘decision fatigue’.

Decision Fatigue?
Coined by social psychologist Roy F. Baumeisterhat decision fatigue is a result of us facing hundreds of choices everyday — from:
What milk we want in our coffee
What, where and how we want to eat
What one of the 50,000 titles to watch on one of the numerous streaming services that we subscribe to –  Netflix, Stan, Disney, Foxtel, PornHub, or HBO (how many streaming services do you subscribe to?) or which free-to-air channel to turn on.
Or closer to home for me – I recently moved my music streaming from Apple Music to Tidal HIFI and felt considerably relieved that I still had a choice of 60 million titles to choose from…phew!
Would I have felt like I was getting a raw deal if I only had 40 million titles to choose from?
Probably…

Whether we order-in using Ubereats, or some other fast food home delivery service, to more complicated decisions that involve our emotional, financial, and let’s not forget our physical well-being…do I do Pilates, Yoga, jog, run, F45, boxing, strength training, cardio smardio, HIIT, Tabata, tiddlywinks or getting a black-belt in macrame…
I won’t even mention diets, supplements, cleanses, detoxes…

Regardless of how strong you are, your ability to make the best choices can eventually run-out due to ‘decision fatigue’. That’s the official term for that feeling when you’re over-stressed by the endless amount of decisions you’ve had to make throughout the day…and many of these decisions are both self-inflicted and stimulated, by what we consume…both orally and cognitively.
No wonder alcohol consumption is so high.

You may not even recognise that you’re suffering decision fatigue.
Recognising it can be tricky because it will often feel like a deep sense of weariness, it probably affects us more than we ever realise. And honestly, speaking from my own experience, you have no idea how much calmer and how much more consistently calmer you can be if you actively pursue ‘decluttering’ and freeing up the noise in your world – this one habit alone has a profoundly positive impact on your ‘nowbeing.’

Symptoms Of Decision Fatigue

Increased Impulsive Behaviour – Act impulsively instead of taking time to think through the consequences of your decision.

Too Many Option – This can tax your mind leaving less energy for making further decisions – more important decision.

Stuck with Analysis Paralysis – Chase a perfect solution instead of making the best decision under the given circumstance…*personal favourite…I’ve got a black belt in macrame in this skill

Choose the Status Quo – No, not the English Rock n Roll band…Status Quo as in what causes you to stay inside your comfort bubble and resist any idea of change

React Aggressively – Your brain’s regulatory power weakens causing you to lose control over you emotions…and often over harmless, insignificant issues.

TOO MANY CHOICES = LIMITED PRODUCTIVITY
TOO MANY CHOICES = LESS APPRECIATION ‘VALUE’
TOO MANY CHOICES = UNNECESSARILY OVERBURDENED

[think Tim Ferris said this]

9 Ways To Combat Decision Fatigue
1. Obvious I know…but ‘adult yourself’ to make fewer decision by streamlining your choices.

2. Declutter, make ‘space’ in your immediate living & working environments for clearer, focus thinking.

3. Practice ‘minimalism’ – this doesn’t mean living the rest of your life on futon mattress – it’s a concept not only about living with less, but also living with, and identifying the things around you that give you great joy. Whilst not allowing the clutter and noise to block or distract your vision and ability to connect with the things that you love and that perpetuate ‘calm’.

4. Make the BIG or hard decisions at the start of the day…clear the desk (and mind) first thing.

5. Limit your options – simply put – having too many options will stress you out.

6. Simplify your life – having fewer tasks and activities will lead to fewer decision and will help you feel restored and in control of the choices you do make. Focus on the macros of life that provide you with the biggest return on investment when it comes to your wellbeing…cooking, sleeping, pursuing calm, exercise, fresh air…

7. Lean to say ‘No’ more often.

8. ‘Literally’ audit the choices you are making right now…are they actually offering you a benefit, or are they adding conflict & confusion to your life?

9. Audit and recalibrate your exposure to the platforms that only stimulate hyper-choice and judging yourself against others, but also heightens FOMO and anxiety…social media, TV streaming services, food delivery & fitness apps, email etc…

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YOU’RE BORN
YOU DISTRACT YOURSELF.
YOU DIE.

(Unknown)

The success of our wellbeing demands that we’re able to focus on the big ticket items of life, most of the time….that we’re able to remain on our path.
The reality is, to be able to effectively commit to the macros of life – ‘most of the time’ – we do actually need routines, rituals and discipline…without these habits, our ability to exert the required energy will be amiss.
How can we initiate disciplined-routines if, ‘most of the time’, we’re addicted to the distractions…the thousands and thousand of micro choices and distractions that we can often mindlessly embrace?

Our WELLBEING is dependant on our NOWBEING.
Coined by MyFutureSelfist Luke Brennan (not a psychologist), ‘Nowbeing’ is being designed and developed to assist individuals to reclaim their wellbeing by taking action NOW.
By understanding that it’s what we do now, and how kind we are to ourselves today,  that we will see our innate ability triggered to not only seek, but resource the required ‘kindling’ to be able to persevere in our endeavours.

And I think that’s the key…“NOWBEING” is about resourcing yourself to be able to remain steadfast on your path. It’s about identifying and embracing the behaviours and habits that can take us off track – because MINDFULNESS is found within our ability to identify when we go off-piste, and having the tools and resilience to guide ourselves back onto our path…because…The Path is The Goal.

Our ability to choose is being constantly eroded by over-choice.
The band Devo said it best in their song Freedom of Choice

Freedom of choice
Is what you got
Freedom from choice
Is what you want

Whilst I’m on Devo, if you’re interested in them there’s a terrific documentary on the ABC which is worth a look.

Till next time

Luke
🙏