Why Are You Single? Perhaps It's The Choice Effect

303 Comments

“It’s impossible not to constantly wonder if there’s something better, someone better.”

My good female friend picked up her third glass of Syrah-Merlot and continued: “If I could only choose between three decent guys, it’d be a done deal. I’d be married already.”

I nodded. Having options–perceived infinite choice–isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. How, then, do you tame indecision, particularly in relationships?

The following guest post, written by Claire Williams, explores some of the more successful approaches… and realizations.

*********

In 2000, Drs. Sheena S. Iyengar and Mark R. Lepper set up a tasting booth at an upscale grocery store in California. On some days, they put out a selection of six types of jam; on other days they set out twenty-four. Although the wider selection attracted more shoppers, more people bought the jam when there were fewer options. It seemed
the more choices people had, the harder it was to make a decision.

The Paradox of Choice explored this infamous dilemma, in which having more options tends to leave us paralyzed and increase our buyer’s remorse. But what does that mean when you’re not just shopping? What about when you’re doing much more important stuff…like picking a job, a house, or – gasp – a life partner?…

If you ever listened to your teachers, talked to your parents, or watched Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, you learned that you were a special snowflake and the world was yours for the taking. But for a generation with more options than ever before, how do you choose when you’ve been taught you can have it all?

Choister?

Today’s twenty- and thirty-somethings approach life and love very differently than past generations. The explosion of choices now available has impacted our desires and expectations, and led us to reconsider traditional decisions. Young men and women are increasingly reluctant to make the ultimate commitment and get married, and much of
that is due to all the other glittery options out there competing for our attention – friends, professional success, 30 Rock, the people in the world you haven’t yet dated.

If you love choices and think the world is your oyster, you’re a choister.

In a world where you might have twenty careers by your 31st birthday, you just might want to cultivate some more stability in your relationships.

The “choice effect” is that pit in your stomach as soon as the waiter walks away with your food order and you realize you wanted what she’s having. It’s a reality, and one that impacts our love
lives.

So how do you overcome this paradox in relationships? For your mother’s sake, take notes.

5 Ways to Tame the Choice Effect:

Use the following “C”-words to make the other “C”-word–commitment–less daunting.

1. Criteria:

Before I decided to settled down with “J”, my now fiancé from Argentina, there were several key moments where I questioned the very basis of our relationship. As foreigners in each other’s lands, cultural and language barriers have been an ongoing theme. It’s taken him years to accept that in my country we eat omelets for breakfast – not lunch – and my visible upset at the break-up of Tipper and Al made him more than pause (okay, maybe that’s not cultural). But one day while I related a particularly hysterical Jon Stewart shtick, the worst happened. He told me it didn’t sound very funny. And that’s when I asked myself: could I really spend a lifetime single-handedly explaining the nuances of The Daily Show to a newbie?

My non-negotiables had been there from the start: internationalism, spirituality, and ambition. Although J matched me well on these fronts, we weren’t carbon copies of one another by any stretch of the imagination. He spends hundreds of hours a year on photography, and I traveled around the world for an entire year without bringing my own camera. I still don’t understand if a bass and a bass guitar are the same thing, but there are apparently three of them displayed in our foyer. I had never heard of Maradona.

We make trade offs in our love lives – J’s cultural “shortcomings” are made up for by key compatibilities. As I’ve come to believe, a man who has never tasted peanut butter can still make an excellent father. So think about what you need. Not a never-ending wish list about how the perfect partner will want to attend Lilith Fair and share your love of Neti pots. Pick the stuff that matters and find someone with those qualities.

2. Concentration:

Like Stephen Stills once sung: “Love the one you’re with.”

When J and I had been dating less than a year, I moved half-way around the world for an MBA program. Suddenly
my wonderful, intelligent, handsome boyfriend was a pixelated photo to Skype with. Meanwhile, real, warm-blooded men played lacrosse around me. This world will pull us in lots of directions, and you need to decide what your prize is and keep your eye on it. Don’t get distracted by every boy or girl that musters the energy for a “how YOU doin’?” Don’t forget your fiance’s cello concert because you’re wall-flirting with your middle school crush on Facebook. I’m all for canvassing your options, but beware the shiny ball syndrome.

3. Common Sense:

Does your ideal life involve a mud hut in Nicaragua with a partner equally thrilled by jungle monkies? Then don’t go trolling for men on what’s left of Wall Street. If you’re a conservative Christian who’s into side hugs, don’t make eyes at the atheist hippie at the local coffee shop. Yes, opposites attract. Paula Abdul said so. But they aren’t a long-term win. Don’t fall into a relationship that checks none of your boxes. Although you may think this is destiny slapping you on the face, this is actually just adrenaline. Probably heightened from the fog of patchouli.

4. Calculation:

Keep an eye on the clock. Not in the Marisa-Tomei-stomping-your-foot kind of way. But there’s being picky and then there’s being paralyzed. So ask yourself – whether you’re choosing a pair of shoes, a healthcare plan, or a spouse – “How long SHOULD this take?” For example – would you agree with the following: you should spend no longer than an hour of your life at GAP deciding between unremarkable fragrances, and no longer than 5 years to decide on a partner? Like my best friend who, after dating her boyfriend for seven years, suddenly thought, “How much more data can I expect to gather?” and suggested they elope to Vegas. You don’t have to adhere perfectly, but it’s good to step back, pick a number (I just might recommend two years), and buy a watch.

5. Choose Already:

If you went into an ice-cream store and saw a child ordering an ice cream cone with 7 different scoops, you’d tell him he was idiot (or not, because that is mean and he is small). Don’t be that kid. You don’t get to have everything.
And, to be fair, you don’t want to. College buffet lines were fun at the beginning, but a plate full of pasta-pizza-ranch-dressing-Fruit Loops loses its appeal after a while. So choose.

What stops so many of us from making a commitment is our fear that once we make a choice we have to close the door on all the other options. If we marry Andy, we will never date Charles. True. If we become an architect, we will never be a ferret trainer. Also true. However, if we do sack up and choose to become an architect, then we have a whole host of new and shiny choices to think about! Should we make a doghouse or a people house? Should the house be blue or red? Should the building be small, medium, or big?

Choosing doesn’t limit choices—it just changes them. So feel free to pick that city, that career, that partner, knowing that even commitment brings a whole new set of options – children/pets/red and blue houses – to be excited (and angsty) about.

By the way, I picked me an architect. (See how I tied that up?)

*********

Claire Williams is co-author of The Choice Effect, which explores overcoming the Paradox of Choice in decisions–big and small–that affect your life. Her previous writing on navigating choices can be found here.

Posted on: June 9, 2010.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Comment Rules: Remember what Fonzie was like? Cool. That’s how we’re gonna be — cool. Critical is fine, but if you’re rude, we’ll delete your stuff. Please do not put your URL in the comment text and please use your PERSONAL name or initials and not your business name, as the latter comes off like spam. Have fun and thanks for adding to the conversation! (Thanks to Brian Oberkirch for the inspiration)

303 comments on “Why Are You Single? Perhaps It's The Choice Effect

  1. I would consider myself a “choister”. It’s too much fun having available options. Like being able to pack all my stuff into one suitcase and moving to Mexico for a month, like I’m doing in July.

    I really like the idea of “Criteria” setting to help making choices. That’s the main thing that helps me commit to serious decisions because if it falls into my set criteria, then it can work.

    Like

  2. Claire, I was wondering how you’d respond to Tyler Cowen considering you wrote the book on it: “In my view, the so-called paradox of choice is one of the most overrated and incorrectly cited results in the social sciences.”

    There is something about it that confirms our intuition about choice but were you able to replicate in yourself?

    http://www.marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2009/11/the-paradox-of-choice-is-not-robust.html

    Like

  3. Aww man… Love this guest post!!

    Claire, your writing style is impeccable and I loved every second of the read. How true it all is… I love the “new choices” directional approach to committing. Very solid perspective and insight.

    Cheers to life, love and commitment :)!!!

    Patrick Hitches

    Like

  4. Wow! Great post Claire & Tim!

    As a lifelong student of human psychology, this is a very intriguing concept. The thing that I wonder is if fear has something to do with the choice. We fear that once a decision is made, someone better will come along. And our fear is the underlining motive for an indecisive and ultimately, single life.

    Like

  5. As a psychology major in University, it blows me away how just the mere perception of choice can dramatically change a human being’s behaviour, emotions, and thought patterns. Very cool post, thanks TIm!

    Like

  6. This hit home with me quite a bit today. I was in a long-term relationship throughout the first 3 years of college and was happy/satisfied/whatever you want to call it. However, over the past year I have really fallen into the choister category I feel like.

    I’ve been curious as to what you (Tim) had felt about relationships because you get to do a majority of the things that once I officially graduate, I will pursue. The problem with this is that there doesn’t seem to be an opportunity for a love life. I’ve been seeing girls for a few weeks/months but it seems like my choister habits kick in and I end up meeting someone new who I feel is better or more interesting. I assume that as I get older (22 right now) I will start to move more towards getting married and serious relationships again.

    Quick question on this…how will I know when it is time to let my choister habits fade away? Do they ever or is it the 5 C’s that must start to come to the forefront and become a part of me? As of now, I’m happy being a choister, but I feel that it’s important for me to plan for my future so I’d like to know :)

    Like

      • hey tim, are you still single? its the first time I ever come across your blog and honestly (I should stop being so honest) I cried at how much you look like an ideal boyfriend, by reading your bio and everything you’ve done and written..so if you’re still single I’d like to know what it is you’d want your ideal girlfriend to be like, and if you’re not what is it about your girlfriend that makes u wanna stay with her (though it might be a bit weird for her to read it)..
        I wish u all the best in everything you do, great knowing there’s someone like u out there (*cries hysterically*)

        Like

  7. Great explanation of the paradox of choice. As someone who can sometimes feel paralyzed by having too many options (who cares what Tyler Cowen thinks? I know it affects *me*) and who sometimes suffers from buyers remorse, I particularly appreciated the breakdown of suggestions for overcoming paralysis and getting to a choice. Good due diligence will get you to a good choice – and we shouldn’t pine for the unattainable ‘perfect’ choice.

    Like

  8. i think you’re missing one of the most important pieces of having a lasting relationship with anyone – that what you’ve got is almost always better than starting over. investing in a relationship, even with someone who might not be your perfect match, is worth a lot more than people give it credit! all the time and effort adds up to much more than another blind “choice”. this is one of the most overlooked points in today’s society, and one reason i think marriages and families fail so frequently anymore – that there seems to be no value in having invested time and effort into anything. everything is easily replaceable and new is always better.

    Like

  9. Great writing. I was laughing all the way through :) In terms of commitment, like the real, long term, live-the-rest-of-our-lives-together-and-beyond type of commitment it appears to not be nearly as strong as it once was.

    And I think your right, it’s because of all the choices. There are so many temptations out there and so many ways to connect and form a deep relationship with someone almost instantly. One thing goes wrong, and it’s just too easy to jump on FB and rekindle an old flame.

    It will take the individual, to make a commitment to LOVE and follow the steps you laid out above. There is a great article called “I will be married to 5 different women in my lifetime” that talks about KNOWING that your partner will evolve and change and you must be willing to fall in love with each “different” woman that comes into your life

    http://samdavidson.net/blog/2010/2/11/i-will-be-married-to-5-different-women-in-my-lifetime.html

    Con Amor,

    ~Mike

    Like

  10. Interesting concept and a welcome one to a person wondering the same things two and a half years into a relationship. Also great to see Nicaragua made it into the post because, well, I’m posting from Nicaragua – but NOT from a mud hut! :)

    Thanks for the tips. Sometimes it really does get complicated when we’ve been raised thinking we deserve the perfect mix of partner, and worse, that that person WILL come along – eventually.

    Like

  11. I think choice overload’s really only a problem if you start out having no idea of what you really want, so you settle for the best of what you find. Which is never really that satisfying and leaves you always looking for something better.

    If you have a clear idea of what you want and trust you’ll find it, whether the values you want in a life partner or the type of jammy flavor that does it for you, it’s so much easier to look at what’s currently available and to hold out for the right one to commit to rather than going through a tiring stream of almost rights (chosen out of fear you might end up with none rather than the right one for you).

    Mmmm … I guess that coincides with Claire’s 1 & 2 …

    Great article.

    Like

  12. Hi Tim & Everyone,

    Following the theme of single, I have just landed in San Francisco from Auckland, New Zealand and would love some local knowledge and/or company – on places to go and things to see. Not really into having a ‘touristy’ experience – but do want to find a Bikram Yoga class, and local music etc.

    Any suggestions greatly appreciated

    Thanks
    Erin

    Like

  13. insightful post Tim & Claire.

    Totally agree – sometimes we’re faced so many choices – that sometimes we don’t even know which way is up!

    Your post actually reminded of the idea around the ‘quarter-life crisis’ i.e. the self-doubt or lack of commitment around life plans i.e. ‘I haven’t reached where I’m supposed to be on the career ladder yet’, ‘I should own this, this and this by now’ or ‘I’ll find my path…eventually’.

    So using your advice on the C-word, make a choice and stick to it.

    will re-visit post when choosing that life partner!

    good luck to you and your Argentinan architect.

    Chloe

    Like

  14. Interesting to see the female’s perspective since in our society they are the sellers, they choose, while men are the buyers, they pick. Thus, I would like to see an article that is more applicable to the male population and perhaps from Tim’s perspective since he has such great insights.

    After all and to start, based on some of the comments it seems that while female relationship(s) are extremely enjoyable, fulfilling and fun there are many alternatives and substitutes available, either professional, hobby, self actualization or the not quite so depreciated model, which do not carry as high a cost as choosing a life-long partner; hence the rub with men choosing to lease rather than buy as the value proposition must not be near equilibrium or the market would be clearing more often and staying settled.

    In other words, when designing one’s lifestyle why include a woman for a lifetime to the exclusion of any others? Surely when living the 4HWW one has the ability to carry on multiple extremely fulfilling and mutually advantageous relationships all over the world. Even if children complicate things the temporal and emotional support needed from a father can still be sufficiently provided. Consequently, where is the value or is it just a relic tradition from an obsolete templated lifestyle age, like the ‘good job’ or 104k retirement account? I suppose, for some, there may be the progeny issue only within marriage but that may be what the bank is for, right Tim?

    Like

  15. Drop your criteria, drop your idea of ‘your ideal life’. That’s all self-centered bullshit, stuff people think will make them happy.

    A relationship isn’t about being happy yourself. A relationship is about being happy together. Even better, a relationship is about being happier together, than you can ever be alone.

    So stop all this ‘I want this, I want that’ talk. It’s not relevant. As long as you’re stuck in this self-centered mindset, you cannot enjoy a real relationship.

    Once you’ve met the right one, you realize all what matters is being together, because that’s when you both are the happiest. You both will be ready to make sacrifices in life, hell it won’t even feel as a sacrifice, or a choice, because you’re only holding on to this beautiful synergy of happiness. There is no better feeling than that.

    Listen to your heart and don’t get confused by conflicting thoughts that the outside world puts in your mind.

    Just take an hour every week, sit back, and REALLY think about your time together. When were you really happy? When you got that awesome promotion? Or when you told him? When you went to that birthday party? Or when he smiled at you when you came back home. When you got an A on your last test? Or when he sent you that sweet text. Really take this time every week, to think and reflect, and you won’t make any of those stupid mistakes so many of us do make.

    Once you’ve found the right partner, you’ll realize it wasn’t about choosing at all. There is no paradox of choices. It’s people, being in the wrong self-centered, individualistic mindset. And it’s a shame really, because they’re missing out on the beautiful feeling of shared love.

    Like

    • To I.M. Wright,

      Thank you, Thank you, Thank you for reminding us that a relationship is about “we” not “me”.

      “A relationship isn’t about being happy yourself. A relationship is about being happy together. Even better, a relationship is about being happier together, than you can ever be alone”. I love this universal truth. It is true in all cultures and ages. If everyone posting pauses to reflect on this we shall see that it is a simple but absolute principal which is all one needs to know what a good relationship is.

      While thinking of finding the right person we should consider being the kind of person worthy of that God/Goddess we somehow have decided that we deserve. If we haven’t gotten the perfect person yet maybe it’s because we aren’t good enough to attract that kind of person yet.

      Thanks again.

      Like

  16. I’m a choister. Not only do I like choosing stuff, but choice is one of the foundations of freedom and modern life that has a lot of repercussions, such as providing me with more choice – anything from world travel to Baconnaise (I usually choose the former).

    Everything said in this post makes sense, but my problem is this: Almost everyone I know who gets married turn into different beings. They seem to lose a certain perspective that I refuse to live without. And I have yet to meet someone who doesn’t nudge me in that direction, in different amounts, of course. In this case, I elect not to make a choice. For now.

    Side note: I had no idea the Gores were separated until I read this. Low info diet, I heart you.

    Like

  17. I missed the line saying it was a guest post, I thought Tim was engaged to a boy from Argentina……oops.. not that theres anything wroong with that

    Like

  18. Well, I think you can be married to a bunch of people, but you can only be married to one person at a time, or you might pick another religion. If you were a man that is. But that seems complicated, to me that is.
    Falling in love is the best drug ever, so that is a very nice start no ?
    My personal no-go tips:
    1)violence or harrassment of any kind
    2) a bad or neurotic relationship between the mother of your potential partner and your partner
    3) someone with sexual issues or complexes

    I looked for a pleasant partner, who is great in bed, thinks of me as the best woman ever, and has the same spirit for adventure and ambition as I have, who is generous and open. Someone who, for example, will never complain when friends arrive hungry at the door after midnight but who will be delighted to receive guests.
    And when you bump into that person all other details, are details.
    You just need to keep falling in love again once in a while with that same person and you will never feel “barred”. You will feel very very lucky.

    So maybe it is not a “choice” but just “luck”!!
    Some guys/girls have all the luck and others have the choices, let’s call that fair. ;-)

    Like

  19. I like “choosing doesn’t limit choices – it just changes them.” Nice insight….I too quick read and thought Tim was marrying “J” from Argentina!

    Like

  20. I completely agree about the paralysis of an overload of choices, but this guest post had a subtle flavor of “single = bad.” Be truly happy with yourself first, and the rest will follow.

    Like

  21. Relationship to me is a sacred contract that has more to do with Karma and working out past life (and current life) stuff than a “choice” you make. You fall in love, and you are tasked with understanding the meaning behind it and learning what you need to learn from it–the choice is whether you face that and do that, or chicken out. If it’s a choice of who to pick, then you’re not in love with any of them, you’re just choosing a roommate/companion. Look deeper, or what’s the point?

    Like

  22. I was actually thinking about this exact same thing today. For months, I’ve been evaluating options to the point of “paralysis by analysis”. I have three life changing options available to me, but only I am in control to make these things a reality. Afraid to pursue option A (long term travel) in fear of losing girlfriend, whereas option B seems like another great choice, etc.. Go back and forth about which option is best.

    I’m finally at the point where I am pursuing Option A full time – I just cleared my mind of the clutter and decided what I need to do.

    This article helps put things in perspective, but you need to follow your dreams and let everything around you fall into place, and most of all, be confident that it will.

    BTW, thanks Tim for your book. Of all the books I’ve read, 4HWW has changed my life the most significantly.

    Like

  23. The choice effect has happened to me with shampoos in the super-market: I know I need to buy one, but how can I possibly examine all or most of the shampoos available on the shelves? I try to avoid frustration by following advice #4: I give myself 1 min to just pick something and go.

    Like

  24. That was a good read!

    In my opinion though, no matter how many choices are displayed to you, when you know what you want – you’ll know when you find it. There will be no confusion either. Our intuition picks up what our rational mind cannot.

    Like

  25. Hmm, there’s something about point number 4 that I find a little funny.

    Calculate when to become committed? You either are or you aren’t, here and now, in the present moment.

    A relationship can’t have any calculation in it. It’s gotta be spontaneous, trusting your gut the whole way. Going into a relationship with expectations and calculations is a recipe for breakup or worse, one where both people look at each other with dead fish eyeballs.

    I truly think so.

    Like

  26. I miss the Tim posts… guest posts are like when you go see a cover band: sure all the words seem right, sure the spirit seems the same, but at the end of it all, not quite. (example: “…might have twenty careers by your 31st birthday.” What?) I read as much as I could, but the references are lacking what I enjoy most of your blog, your view-point.

    Hurry and get your book done sir, you are missed.

    -Lance

    Like

  27. Why does everyone keep asking me why I’m single, lately? First my family and married friends, and now my favorite lifestyle design blog…Not you too 4HWW blog, not you too…

    Great read though. “Pick the stuff that matters and find someone with those qualities.” is a fantastic point. All of my long-term relationships have been built on this very idea. Hopefully, my future ones will be too. Thanks for the insight Claire.

    Like

  28. My dad has a saying, “The hard part isn’t making a choice. The hard part is leaving all the other choices behind.”

    Good way to think about it– you don’t leave anything behind, rather you open up different options.

    Like

  29. I appreciated Claire’s points, but have to question the data upon which they were based upon. I know she is well meaning, but to use herself and her partner as a primary data point doesn’t make sense when she herself is only engaged. This makes her evidence anectdotal. I accept her relevance though seeing as how choice, the main theme of the post, is a relatively new phenomenon.

    My suggestion, let’s look at how many people the average person now dates before entering into marriage. Has that number increased over the last few decades and if so by how much? Also, assuming people do in fact date more before making their choice, then is the happiness index of married couples increasing due to a more refined and hopefully better choice in partner? My hypothesis would be that the data would point to Claire’s points being true that at the end of the day we just have to make a choice and not let our multitude of options cloud our judgement.

    I chose my lady because she makes me laugh and never gets flustered by life. Oh yeah, and she is hot too. Hey, we all have our priorities.

    Like

  30. Guess what ?

    When click on the link The Choice Effect at the bottom of the text it takes you to Amazon, where you can get the Kindle edition for $ 0.00!!!!!!!

    Thanks Tim!!!!! Obrigado

    Like

  31. Being polyamorous, I’ve chosen to have long term commitment while simultaneously leaving that door for “new and shiny” open. No “buyers regret” when all parties involved are willing/able/desirous of leaving options open. I am getting both long term security and options for pursuing new possibilities when I want them. Requiring that my partners be similarly inclined amusingly narrows my choices down to a much less dizzying array of choices. ;)

    Like

  32. “Choosing doesn’t limit choices—it just changes them. ”

    In the fall, I will be at a seminary to begin studying to be a Catholic priest (and continuing to read my favorite Tim Ferriss Blog posts). People always ask me, “Man, aren’t you going to feel so contained? Won’t you feel restricted?”

    I always stare at them like they are missing a few neural connections in their brain, but at least now I can point them to a blog post to clarify.

    Like

  33. I’m reminded of Tim’s New Year’s video on the false friends vs. true friends thing? Now that I’m 47 and can remember how in my 30′s I felt like the ONLY not-looking-for-anyone-special person, because honestly, I needed to build the true friendships ‘tribe’ FIRST. The idea of “failing” at a relationship and the “loss” of it was too scary without knowing who was really cushioning me from failure. I’m very picky choosing my friends, so I’d be picky/choosy with the romantic relationship thing too. Crazy circular dynamic. But choosy people appreciate Other choosy people, so that makes me feel less lonely? Thanks for the post and Claire’s insights !

    Like

  34. Full disclosure – Not married, but when I thought I might want to be, I started going to a psychologist to talk about the issue. I had always liked my options. It ended up that the affinity to options had prevented me from moving forward in other respects, and putting my options to death allowed me to advance. I just looked at options in a different way; I was losing out on all the possibilities I’d have if I decided to get married.

    I don’t think this helps people who aren’t even dating, but it might help someone who is considering tying the knot but still feels that wanderlust.

    Funny story, I have a friend who found a list at her ex’s place; it had things like “get laid,” “go to a sex club,” “get a happy ending,” (that one was crossed off!). She’s kind of timid, and she put herself back in that awkward I’m-not-sure-if-we’re-back-together space … The guy wants to feel like he’s done everything before he ties the knot.

    Like

  35. I can’t remember which, but one of the stoics said something to the effect that it matters less what happens to a man than how he responds to it.

    Daniel Gilbert goes over some interesting aspects of the paradox of choice in his book Stumbling on Happiness. I think he even mentions some studies on the restaurant example given by Claire (wait… I want what she’s having) which illustrate how bad we are at predicting what will make us happy.

    Like

  36. This is also comparable to the “bystander syndrome”, a well studied psychological state that people go into when somebody is in trouble in a public forum. The more people that are around, the longer it takes for the person to get help. Everyone thinks “Somebody is going to jump in the river and save that guy!” So if everybody is thinking that…nobody does it. Also, I found out when I moved out of my parents house that I’m NOT a total slob, I was just used to them cleaning up. If there was a piece of paper on the floor, I definitely picked it up. Nobody else was going to do it.

    And finally, this is a major problem with real estate. On Long Island, you could drive down a block and see five houses for sale. There were too many choices and people drove themselves nuts, ultimately deciding nothing was the perfect fit.

    It’s like you say in your book, give people two choice, basic and premium. That’s it. People are too dumb to make smart decisions.

    Like

  37. When I moved to Deutschland, I saw only two choices for work: teaching English or writing/editing/proofreading English text. That made things easy. Just had to get one of those and I’d make it.

    Now that I’m back in America (the land of abundant choices) and in the stages of choosing a proper job, it’s reminded me that there ain’t no glory in having unlimited options to choose from. For someone with broad interests, how do you choose which choice to make? Perhaps I should do like Paulie suggested in Rocky IV: “Hit the one in the middle.”

    Like

  38. Very interesting read! As a 24-yr old (the choister demographic), Claire’s words definitely resonate with me (and I loved the “My cousin Vinny” reference). While I agree with her recommendations, I also believe that life partners are not just something to “choose already”. Sometimes I think that I’d rather stay single than be in an unloving, difficult relationship that I rushed into just to get society/parents off my back.

    Are you a choister, Tim?

    Like

  39. Great guest post! title caught my attention as I’m starting to just ponder this question myself & Claire gives me good food for thought. Now onto how to bring some choices my way in order to implement the 5 Cs. :)

    Like

  40. So how do you explain people, given many choices, who pick one and are happy with it? Be it a car, a watch, a wife, an early one night stand or city to live in, etc.

    Like

  41. Maria – you mention The Choice Effect happening to you with shampoos in the supermarket. One of the first pages of our book has an awesome quote from an from a choister gal talking about the over-abundance of face-washes, and how to choose:

    I was in the grocery store buying face wash, and it literally took me twenty minutes to decide between Neutrogena, Bioré, Dove, St. Ives, Clearasil, and Olay. If we translate this analogy to career decisions, marriage decisions, sexuality decisions, it may take us a lifetime to finally decide who we are and what we are doing.
    —Ruby Darling, age 23

    Like

  42. Realizing how grateful I should be. For the ladies, Alison Armstrong in LA teaches this class, Men & Marriage, where you end up with a list of the qualities you actually need in the guy you are going to be with. The rarity of the combination of all these things, for me, makes it a very precious list. Basically: what is on the list is what, if the guy didn’t have it, you would simply not be able to be with him. So: kindness, masculinity, financial responsibility, curiosity. These are some of mine. I haven’t exactly found him yet, but it is a completely different ballpark to actually, in a grounded, clear way, know what these qualities are. :) Such a shift from the endless possibilities thing, which is pretty hellish as far as my experience goes.

    Like

  43. I was, and am still a bit, a compulsive non-chooser. After watching the TED talk http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_gilbert_asks_why_are_we_happy.html I started making fewer choices. Opposite the advice in 4HWW, I asked (demanded) others make choices for me, and I was quite satisfied with everything that came my way. Choice is an illusion, no matter what happens we are still where we will be, in the moment here or there which are the same place. Once we realize that choice is an illusion, we free from worrying about uncertain futures; free to choose to change our life. It’s a struggle, but a great one.

    Like

  44. I have to agree with the commenter who found a strong odor of “single = bad” in this piece. I’d guess for the majority of men, making a commitment has more to do with lack of choice than abundance of choice. Few men I know are more eager to commit than their partners are.

    At the same time, I’m glad that the piece rejects what so many of the commenters are saying about some sort of magical feeling and finding “the one”. It’s a big decision, but it’s a decision like any other, and overthinking it doesn’t improve the outcome.

    Like

  45. I agree with this article, but I also think that it infers that choosing to be single is the wrong choice. Is ‘not choosing’ the wrong choice? And what happened to “when you know, you know”? If the right person comes along, then the choice should be natural – not require decision making.

    Maybe I’m just naive.

    Like

  46. Personally, I find it fairly easy to love others, and–after 1 ill-conceived relationship at 19–it’s been fairly easy to find others who are willing to love me to the best of their abilities. While a Jon Stewart fan myself, I don’t use such preferences as a litmus test for relationships. The one question that continually gives me pause is, “If necessary, do I trust my partner to make decisions on my behalf–both everyday decisions as well as long-term ones?” Historically, the answer has been ‘no’, and until I can answer it with a resounding ‘yes’, I will remain a happy serial monogamist.

    Like

  47. Chandler – Amalia McGibbon here! One of Claire’s co-authors on “The Choice Effect.”

    That’s a good question – how do you explain people who make a choice and are happy with it? – because I think with all this talk about the paradox of choice and ‘buyer’s remorse’, it’s easy to generalize that the majority of people feel as if they’ve settled in the end or wish they’d done things differently. But we’re not saying that’s the case.

    It’s not that we’re afraid of choosing because we KNOW something awful lies on the other side, it’s because we are aware there’s a CHANCE it could. And the idea that you could make a decision and it be the wrong one – as we learned from watching so many of our parents get divorced – is rather paralyzing.

    But yeah – there’s TOTALLY a chance it could all work out! I think that’s what we’re angling for when we take our sweet time…

    Like

  48. Human beings are peculiar creatures. We have to find explanations and formulas for everything that happens in life. Whenever we feel that we can’t control a situation, we freak out big time. The truce is that there is no formula for love. Don’t bother. There is still a good chance you are going to be hurt even if you analyze the hell out of everything that happens. The opposite outcome is also very likely. ;-) If you are the person doing the “choosing”, you most likely don’t want to be with (not in love?) any of the “subjects”. If you are on the receiving side of the “process”, run away. ;-)

    Like

  49. Amalia again, Claire’s “Choice Effect” co-author. It’s interesting to see that some people think this post has a “single = bad” undertone, because that’s so far from how we feel.

    True, this post is finding the tools to move forward in a relationship, but that’s mainly because we just wrote an entire book about how and why our generation is resistant to the idea of commitment. And part of that resistance – two book chapters worth, to be precise – stems from the fact that it’s MUCH more attractive to be single these days.

    I mean, this is a whole other conversation, but to give you a sense of the stance we take in the book: “It’s no longer that women in relationships are looking down upon the single masses from their ivory towers, thinking, “There but for the grace of God go I.” They’re watching their unattached friends skip out the door, thinking, “I like tube tops. I like graduate school in Beirut, too. Where’s everyone going tonight?”

    Like

  50. It’s great to see someone discussing this topic. I don’t feel the post in any way stated that being single is a bad thing. Choosing a partner is just simply another choice available to us. I am indeed a serial choister and I have been aware of it for some time. It is nice to have a label for it.

    Thanks for the great post Claire. I’m looking forward to when you’re back in action Tim.

    Like

  51. Meh, it was ok. I can see this working out for a woman, but not necessarily a man. Not to be rude or too cruel, but us guys age better. And older guy is seen as sophisticates and worldly, while an older woman is, well…old. She’d be great for advice and cookies, but not to be romantic with. It is like being with grandma…ick. But if an older guy has taken care of himself physically, has his own business, travels and has friends who value his opinion, then he is a fine catch for even 20-somethings when he is in his mid 50′s.

    Like

  52. It is not a bad thing being a choister, as long as you are aware of it and do not use it as an excuse because you cannot or don’t want to make certain choices.
    I used to be a choister, too. But in the end, making choices and making the best out of them improves your life. At least in my opinion.

    There are two very enlightening TED talks on this topic:

    Like

  53. “Eating sheep brain in Istanbul” Enjoy the single life Tim before your gf will be asking you were doing what!?? :D -Nab

    Like

  54. Great post. I think having the right and stable relationship is a great success factor for people looking to start their own small business and/or switching careers. I have learned over the years that having that stable relationship and support is worth so much more at times of need vs the trill of playing around!

    Like

  55. Very good read. I highly recommend the Paradox of Choice book as well. I rarely eat out, but if I drop into any restaurant (even McDonalds or Wendy’s on occasion), I just freeze up.

    The problem people have is they don’t have a firm stance on exactly what they want. If someone takes a firm stance on things they don’t want (a feature with a piece of technology, or if the girl smokes), it REALLY cuts down on selection. The problems arise when you walk in not really knowing what you want, buy something, and then within 10 minutes you realize another item was cheaper and had another feature you wanted – you’re never very satisfied.

    People also aren’t nearly as accountable for their choosings as they used to be. The book talks about this too. If we buy an item from a retailer, we sometimes have upwards of 30 days to return or exchange it. Just knowing there’s this period means that we’re always thinking about what ELSE we could have chose. It’s quite sad and it’s very difficult to notice unless someone opens our eyes to it. It’s interesting: We have soooo much more selection as before, but we’re also so much less satisfied by our choices.

    Keep up the good blog Tim.

    Like

  56. Choice is a strange problem in relationships, I am happy that I made the wrong choice even. Living in Japan I had the choice to persuit either the half chinese half japanese girl or the half mexican half japanese girl, I chose the half chinese one, and well it went terribly. However it gave me more ideas of what I actually wanted and eliminated choices I might of had to consider before, not knowing what it had meant.

    Before dating my current girlfriend, I had another bad relationship, so I decided to add in some really arbitrary rules, they were as follows: 1. Can drink alcohol, 2. Is not Vietnamese, and 3. Is not a virgin. three things I had trouble with in my previous relationships. However it narrowed my potential dating pool to a manageable size of people I could actually try to pursuit.

    In the end I ended up breaking the third rule, but thats not really the point, the rules were arbitrary and there to keep me from getting confused and fascilitate decision making. I ended up dating a Korean girl which was not something I expected, as the fact that my school is about 5% Korean and I had 1 korean friend in my entire time there but she had already graduated and was actually born in Pittsburgh, and my previous experiences with Koreans especially Korean girls had been really less than stellar, meaning, I was hated.

    Generally now that I am in the first truly long term relationship of my life, I know I am still constantly bombarded with choices, but to get where I am now would take way too long and I dont even want to think about losing the girl I have. I guess I am also lucky that I dont have nearly as many lost in translation experiences as “J” but I think thats more to do with 4 years of a constant multicultural immersion to the point where nothing really shocks me too much anymore.

    Like

  57. Thanks for that thought-provoking read, Claire. Reminds me of a George Bernard Shaw quote:

    “Few of us have vitality enough to make any of our instincts imperious.”

    I find abundant choice bothersome when I’m picking a meal at a restaurant but can’t say I’ve had much problem elsewhere. Two things work well for me:

    1. ELIMINATION – be ruthless at prioritising (criteria is important here) and get rid of all but your Top 3 choices; and

    2. FAIL FAST – make the best choice you can as quickly as you can (i.e. gut feel) and test it. If it doesn’t work, get out. Immediately.

    A word of caution: my mum and her current partner also like the fail fast theory and they’ve clocked up 8 marriages between them (preceding their current relationship) so no guarantees that you won’t leave a trail of destruction in your wake…

    Tim – you (and more specifically, the 4HWW) have inspired me. Thank you. Hope you have a spot in your calendar for a visit Down Under when releasing your next book, would love to see you in Perth or Brisbane!

    Like

  58. Interesting article. Yes, today people are bombarded with too many (both real and illusionary) possibilities of potential mates… And, yes, choice can be paralyzing. But, perhaps, what’s changed even more is people’s value system.

    For modern women, marriage is not the main goal anymore. Women want independence and self-actualization. They often adopt the male self-defenses and think that sleeping around means they are in control. Men can also do just fine on their own now – they don’t need a woman to wash the dishes or do their laundry. And of course, many bachelors get awe and respect from their buddies if they are a commitment-phobic, “ladies man” – it’s a status thing, deeply embedded in our culture.

    I think we are single because we forgot what matters.

    Let me ask this – is being in a committed life partnership the natural progression from having casual relationships until you’ve found “the one”? Or could they be two alternative experiences: one of dispensable, sensual, superficial interaction, and one of a deep, soul-changing, sacred relationship? Because you either spend your time on one, or on the other. Of course, being open enough for the latter involves a lot of risk; none of us should commit to just anybody. But if you have found someone you are passionate about, what more should you wait for?

    Maybe selecting the right person is not the biggest part. Perhaps there can be many “right” people for each of us. But what matters is what we do after we select. It’s how we inspire and change each other, try to be our best selves for each other, the special memories and history we create together, and how we are there for each other in ways nobody else can. It’s about creating a romance that can be compared only to art, it’s about sharing yourself and discovering parts of yourself you never knew existed; it’s about creating a private world between two people which never has been and never will be again…

    Many people seem to think that relationships just happen on their own, and their success depends mostly on the “rightness” of the partner they have chosen. But I’ve come to think that like any worthwhile project or endeavor in life, as long as you follow your heart to tell you the “what” (or “who”), what really matters then is the “how”, and relationships exist to be built, grown and enjoyed with active, positive, conscious intent, each and every day.

    Like

  59. @Claire
    Sorry, but your relationship with “J” [Julio, Jorge?] has been doomed from the start.
    Like yourself, when it comes to relationships, most women over analyze everything… and they make themselves miserable in the process [watched “The Hills” lately? ]
    Remember the joke? “Men think about only three things: beer, sports and sex. An also sex…” Particularly, *particularly* Hispanic men and *particularly* Argentinian men [I lived five years in Argentina: I am a “red blooded” heterosexual American man – and yes, to me, there were at least 24,000 types of [jam] beautifully stunning Argentinian girls…]
    When it comes to American women, for a “red blooded” Argentinian man, there are not “24 types of jam” – there are at least 24,000 of them, and their intentions/dreams are to sample *all* of them!
    He has already done it, he is doing it now and/or he will cheat on you – Right now, he is most likely considering at least three or four women he already knows: your best friend, you sister, the cute girl at Starbucks, the petite brunette next door, etc.
    Sorry, again.

    Like

  60. I love this article. I’m 36 and have always had a problem with making choices. I know I want what I choose but what about all that other stuff that I’m not getting? Oh, I want to try that too! This has stopped me from living my life on numerous occasions and was a very difficult habit to break.

    Thanks for the great article.

    Like

  61. There are two opposite ways we can make choices. The first one is looking for the best choice. This becomes complicated to impossible when the number of things to choose from is big. The other way to choose is looking for something good enough. Take a fix set of criteria, the first choice that fulfils all criteria is your choice.

    There is research that shows that you are more happy with your choices when you apply the second way. If you choose by the first way and finally made your choice, you are still wondering if it was the right one.

    Furthermore people tend to use the first way with material selections (like choosing a TV-set) and the second way with more emotional choices (like choosing the next vacation or bf/gf).

    I think the problem you describe is not choice but commitment. People who cannot find a partner often don’t have a problem to find a mate but to commit to one of their mates. No matter who comes along.

    Like

  62. Good stuff. Of course it’s a rare MAN that has such choices (except for those of us involved in “the community”, of course). I take ALL dating advise from women with a grain errr… bucket of salt. Fun article, though.

    Like

  63. interesting article and it did get my mind going, thank you.

    my only criticism is what others have pointed out already, a tone of “single is bad”. seems like women in particular have this feeling, including my mother who is always so much happier when i am in a relationship.

    i think if you are someone who is independent and wealthy you just don’t need or may not even want a long term relationship and certainly marriage would be pointless even if you love someone(you don’t need government papers or church approval for true commitment).

    sometimes too much choice is troublesome, but thinking you have to pick something seems just as bad to me.

    Like

  64. In my experience, I have far more clarity about my life and my choice when I’m drinking water. ; )

    Also, when you are really ready for a relationship, it has a way of finding you … no matter what you do.

    There’s much to be said for experiencing life and becoming clear on your always evolving preferences. I love the fabulous guys I dated 10 years ago and am very appreciative of where I am now.

    Enjoy life, either way,
    Christine Hueber

    Like

  65. It really all boils down to selfishness. People foster their own environment of having too many choices because they are selfish. “I want it all!” as Freddie Mercury once said. Many people today are unwilling to stick with things because it’s simply easier to fail and move onto something else than work hard to try and succeed. That’s why the divorce rate is so high and why most people don’t ever seem to “do great things.”

    So what if the girl you are dating/married to isn’t the prettiest? You probably aren’t the most handsome guy in the world, either.

    So what if the guy you are with isn’t as smart as your best male friend? You probably aren’t as smart as you think you are.

    So what if you realize after ordering your food that you wanted what “she” was having? Eat what you ordered and then have what “she” was having the next time. Unless you’re sitting on Death Row I don’t see the problem.

    You get out of life what you put into it. I am in an interracial marriage (my wife is Thai) and rather than get frustrated at having to explain something we’re watching on TV to her, I choose to enjoy the fact that I get to teach her something, and I love it when whatever I’m explaining clicks for her.

    Focusing on the negative (“can I live with a guy that I have to explain The Daily Show to?”) is a conscious choice. You CHOOSE to have that be a problem, so it should come as no surprise why people who think this way are still single. That attitude is selfishness.

    Box-checking is fine so long as it doesn’t become paralyzing. Don’t have so many pre-requisites for your significant other that you end up being single forever because no one lives up to your expectations. YOU YOURSELF probably can’t even live up to the expectations you place on your potential mate.

    Like

  66. Hi Tim and Claire,

    I think this epidimic of choices isn’t the real problem…

    I think it only reveals something that has been there for ages: people do NOT know themselves.

    Therefore, they are easily distracted by shiny objects…

    When you know what you want with 100% certainty and clarity, there are no multiple and conflicting choices.

    But that takes listening to yourself and finding your TRUTH rather than what everybody else is telling you is true: you have to listen to your heart and I don’ think many people know how to do that, not in this world of so-called specialists and experts.

    Endless choices don’t help either, that’s for sure…but the real issue (as far as I’m concerned) is, has always been and will always be that people don’t know themselves.

    More choices is like more money: it only magnifies who you are and how you think.

    Have a great day, and keep on learning about yourself

    Damien

    Like

  67. Hmmm …

    I’m more the “you really can have it all” type of person.

    Very timely post though, as I’ve found myself pondering these partnership questions …

    I think for me, redefining what passes as “monogamy” is what I’m doing now.

    For me, polyamory sounds better and better … and maybe more importantly … the self-growth that is jump-started by choosing that type of lifestyle I think we could all use more of.

    (examples: having to be 100% honest, real with feelings, hacking away at self-deception, etc)

    That being said, I agree with the author for the most part, I’m definitely aware that having more choices is the reason why it’s harder for me to commit to one person nowadays (as opposed to growing up in a secluded town, no internet and no real view of how vast the world is and settling down with the first love from high school).

    I likes it :)

    Best,
    Caleb

    Like

  68. I totally concur with Chris Odell’s comment (June 10th, 2010, 11:10am).

    The article was fairly reasonable regarding the paradoxical duality or inverse proportionality that can exist between selection amplitude and one’s ability to actually make a choice.
    Be that as it may, there is something to be said for a life of solitude, or simply a protracted period of being alone. Which obviously is a choice in its own right.

    Some of us have very dynamic professions, where we have to sky up between countries or continents, not just for brief visitation but oftentimes indefinite relocation. This can make finding a long-term companion quite difficult.

    While the article underlines some fair points, it’s important not to let that eclipse the dignity, solemnity and even (without intending pomposity) richness of self that can be found in flying-solo.
    The article risks adding to the constellation of pressures the newer generations feel to make an ultimate choice and settle down ASAP.

    While I would like to have an intimate companion again one day, I do try to be careful and not rush anything. This is equally if not more important.

    While a deluge of choices can stymie the act of choosing, one mustn’t choose simply because they feel they must.
    It’s important to remember there is no shame or stigma in leading a solitary life. Whether just waiting for ‘when it feels right’ or simply choosing not to choose.
    If carried in the right way, it can be part of a meaningful existence.

    Perhaps this is a spectacularly banal point, but it’s worth underlining, I think.

    Like

  69. Thanks for the great read!!! It seems that I am always single (and I enjoy it, especially being 24 y/o) however, I do crave a meaningful relationship. I feel that I can be too choosy when it comes to dating and that hinders my opportunities to find love.

    P.S. Tim- I would totally date you!! :D

    Like

  70. Every comment here misses the main principles of decision making. All decisions (and I mean ALL decisions) consist of several main components. Those components are: alternatives, uncertainties, probabilities and preferences. In good decision making, you can assign numbers to each component and mathematically calculate your best decision in every situation… if you know how. It’s easy. You just have to stop and think. Analyze. Not waste time gathering unnecessary data. Yes, I’ll bet, you are already starting to oppose me on this, but fact is you can algebraically resolve every decision in your life. Quickly. Without pondering endlessly. Read about it in the book: “Quick Analysis For Busy Decision Makers” by Behn. It works. And, don’t forget, good decision making has nothing to do with the ‘final results’ that you obtain. It has to do with the ‘process’ you use to decide. You can choose poorly and win. You can choose well and lose. Ever hear of an idiot that made a stupid choice only to end up with amazing good fortune. Or, ever hear of a genius that made an intelligent lucid well-thought decision only to face total disaster. Decisions and Results are NEVER related. Ever! It’s a disconnect. (OK, I’m ready for you. Send me your disagreements. …But, first go read the book.)

    Like

  71. It is very Tim to say limit the choices and just make up your mind. Life is too short and there are too many places to explore and adventures to be had. I could not agree more. This works everywhere too. For instance, my closet. I bought some fun clothes on my last adventure to Europe and Dubai. Some great linen. But now whenever I go into my closet I have to spend twice as much time deciding what to throw on. And then packing for a trip is all the more difficult. Now it’s time for Spring cleaning I guess.

    The more you can consciously think about how your decisions will effect the ease of difficulty of future decisions and actions, the better. Clothes, mates, honeymoon destinations, you name. You never miss the things you didn’t choose as much you think you will later on. The good news is whatever you decide will offer great experiences and if they turn out to suck then just take a mini-retirement and choose what’s next.

    -Scott

    Like

  72. I have to admit I never thought of relationships in this context but darn if it doesn’t make perfect sense now upon hearing it.
    Thanks for reaching out to Claire Williams for this post, Tim.
    Great stuff.

    Like

  73. I also found a definite tone of “single is bad” pervading the article. I have been married (for eleven years) and can tell you that marriage isn’t for everyone, and certainly not for me. At age 55, I’m much happier with friends with benefits. We are programmed to think that we must marry, and that’s just not true.

    Like

  74. I totally concur with Chris Odell’s comment (June 10th, 2010, 11:10am).

    The article was fairly reasonable regarding the paradoxical duality or inverse proportionality that can exist between selection amplitude and one’s ability to actually make a choice.
    Be that as it may, there is something to be said for a life of solitude, or simply a protracted period of being alone. Which obviously is a choice in its own right.

    Some of us have very dynamic professions, where we have to sky up between countries or continents, not just for brief visitation but oftentimes indefinite relocation. This can make finding a long-term companion quite difficult.

    While the article underlines some fair points, it’s important not to let that eclipse the dignity, solemnity and even (without intending pomposity) richness of self that can be found in flying-solo.
    The article risks adding to the constellation of pressures the newer generations feel to make an ultimate choice and settle down ASAP.

    While I would like to have an intimate companion again one day, I do try to be careful and not rush anything. This is equally if not more important.

    While a deluge of choices can stymie the act of choosing, one mustn’t choose simply because they feel they must.
    It’s important to remember there is no shame or stigma in leading a solitary life. Whether just waiting for ‘when it feels right’ or simply choosing not to choose.
    If carried in the right way, it can be part of a meaningful existence.

    Perhaps this is a spectacularly banal point, but it’s worth underlining, I think.

    Like

  75. I recently moved to California from New York and I did this because I wanted to grow as a person. Upon analysis, I found that I maintained relationships at the expense of living my life. Now I’m living my life at the expense of some relationships, BUT the ones that matter are still intact, AND I am forging a true relationship with myself and with god. The only two that really matter (in my opinion).

    Like

  76. Nonsense!

    There’s a reason why 53% of marriages end in divorce, and of the remaining ones, likely only about 3-5% would be considered “successful” by any stretch: marriage simply does not work. With at best 95% odds, people are fools to get married and lock things up with someone after just a couple of years of dating. Why not celebrate milestones like 10 years?
    And to think we need government permission to marry is insanity.

    Long term relationships are good, but putting the cuffs of marriage on them usually assures that it will end badly.

    Like

  77. Good point about wanting it all, and too many options slowing us down in general…

    but…

    wish you also talked a bit about why we think we “NEED” a partner and is it statistically a good choice for most people???

    I mean “choist”

    Like

  78. I appreciate the post; however must someone choose? I know it is for many, but maybe not for all. Our culture is changing and so is the world around it; the work 30 years and retire process has come to be challenged, has not the necessity that someone must get married be challenged as well? The article is very well written yet I catch constant undertones of compromising and settling. Which, in my sense, does not thrill or even encourage me to rush into marriage, I think I’ll take sometime finding myself first :)

    Like

  79. I’ve recently been putting myself into the mental state of ‘how does this apply to MY business’ whenever I read anything… and trying not just to listen to the point being made, but also to extrapolate to how it applies to me.

    I think I accidentally read this post in that mentality….

    When choosing a niche to launch your muse / auto-generated income… you will have an infinite set of viable niches to test …

    1- Criteria – No niche is perfect, pick one that matches your criteria. Don’t go trying to sell x-treme sport gear or information when you have a BMI of 35 and have never done anything extreme before in your life.

    2- Concentration – There’s always another pretty niche that some one else is working on… if what you are working on is showing potential, do not jump ship, or you will never develop one fully.

    3- Common Sense – Opposites attract. It may seem interesting for me as a guy to attack a female niche, or may be interesting for me as a geek to go for something ‘cool’ … but I think playing up my strengths as a geek or a guy or whatever my strength may be, brings more leverage to my niche than starting on something alien

    4- Calculation – Set yourself a time target to test your niche , or to choose your market… don’t spend 10 years dabbling with a niche , market , community without fully committing to developing things to the max

    5- Choose already – Making a choice doesn’t mean loss of choice… once you make that first choice, it changes the next choices you have to make … now that I’m in THIS market, how do i best serve the customers, what products are they dying for, how do i best develop and deliver those products…etc

    Insanely good business post Tim… and congrats on the engagement to the Argentinean :)

    Like

  80. #1 – I too read too fast and thought Tim was marrying a man from Argentina. That’s pretty funny that so many people thought that.

    #2 – This post is full of more interesting comments than any other one I can remember ;-)

    Thanks everyone!

    Like