When you have no choice but to create

A famous study revealed something curious about how we make choices.

One weekend, a local supermarket was stacked with 6 types of jams. On another, it had 24 varieties with varying flavour and intensity. In which scenario did people buy more jam?

The intuitive answer here is that more choice would lead to more jam sales. But that did not happen. People bought more jam when they had fewer options. In fact, 10 times more!

When faced with a difficult decision, we often make no decision at all. Choosing between 6 varieties of jam is easy. Choosing between 24 is much harder. Therefore, we default to not buying jam. In other words, we are inclined to make the perfect choice available to us or don’t choose when that is difficult.

I am all for a world where people consume less jam. However, we shy away from all difficult decisions, regardless of how good their outcomes can be. When faced with a creative conundrum, we often don’t act rather than move forward. Suppose we have the perfect idea for writing an article. Like choosing between jam flavours, we could execute that idea in numerous ways. But given our mind’s penchant for perfection, it often defaults to not writing at all.

When we eliminate the option of not shipping, the work we create often turns out better than we thought. Did this not happen when your wrote essays in school even though you didn’t choose your own topic? I feel this way with every post I write, and that is one reason I keep coming back.

Comparisons between sets of perfect options are illusions. The work we ship is ground reality. Eliminate choice to move forward.

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