When Barry Schwartz discusses maximizing individual freedom with offering maximum available choices to consumers, he makes great points, mentioning how things were in the past compared to today. There are obviously many more choices today. Is that always good though? In my opinion, along with Mr. Schwartz, it isn’t always for the best. For instance, his example of making choices at your kid’s soccer game, and the paralysis people can get when offered too many choices.
For example, when Mr. Schwartz discusses the study of 401k decision-making, I could absolutely relate. At age 21 when I was first eligible for my company’s 401k plan, I was uneducated on the subject or how to get help on it. I put it off for years! As another example, as I age, I can more and more relate to the problems of escalation of expectation, especially with technology. I feel so out of the loop with all the choices we are offered with laptops, internet options, cell phones, etc. I also agree with Mr. Schwartz on it being easier to regret personal choices with the more options available. I “could have done better” happens all the time in all of us. We have all these options that offer great benefits. When we settle for what we can afford or have the time for, we cannot help but think that there is something better that we could have had.
Lastly, I would like to mention that I am also able to relate with the negative effects of patient autonomy. My recent health had provided me with the opportunity for both back and foot surgery. These procedures are not needed for my survival; therefore the decision lies completely on me as to whether I should go through with it. Both doctors told me “if you can live with the pain, then you may not feel the need for the surgery. But if you can’t, you might want to try it”. This leaves me feeling guilty in a couple ways. 1. If I get the surgery, I am somehow a weaker person because I cannot live with the pain. And 2. If I “try” it, and it doesn’t work, it was my bad decision.
I would not say that options are the enemy. Some are harmless and take little energy, such as deciding to but white or yellow American cheese at the deli counter. All these little, medium and large decisions made each and every day take a toll on the mind and body. We wear ourselves out, not even realizing that during the course of a day, we make thousands of decisions.