Choice vs. convenience

You have more than a billion choices online. With just a few clicks, you could be just about anywhere. Thanks for reading this today.

What did you have for lunch yesterday? Of all the lunches in all your possible universes, was it your first choice? Best choice?

When someone tries to take our freedom of choice away, it’s a problem. And yet…

We have far more choices than we realize. In school, we’re bound by the course catalog, the schedule and the requirements of a degree, but even there, we had more freedom than we imagined. The organizations we could have started, the projects we could have launched, the people we could have connected…

It’s convenience that holds us back. And it comes in many forms.

Social convenience: it’s easier to sit through a boring cocktail party or a meeting than it is to tell someone you don’t want to come.

Physical convenience: things that are handy are much more likely to be chosen than ones that require us to move somewhere to go get them.

Intellectual convenience: change makes us uncomfortable. Sunk costs are hard to ignore. Possibility comes with agency, and agency comes with risk.

Financial convenience: if it’s cheaper in the short run, we’re more likely to choose it, even if it costs satisfaction, opportunity or cash in the long run.

Cultural convenience: A combination of all of these, because culture likes the status quo and reminds of this regularly.

If we ever saw precisely how much freedom of choice we have if we were willing to sacrifice convenience for it, we’d be paralyzed. But if the choices we’re making now aren’t helping us live the way we choose, it might be worth taking a hard look at why.

[PS Thanks for reading this on the slowest week of the year. If you’re up for an inconvenient choice, I’ve created a coupon for my Udemy lectures on learning so it only costs half the usual amount for the next few days. (If you were looking for the free code, alas, your fellow readers grabbed them… I set it at maximum Udemy allows, but they all went quickly.)

Thanks. Here’s to peace of mind and possibility.]