I generally like to write about themes that keep popping up in my life as there is generally a lesson hidden, or not so hidden within them.
Lately The Cheesecake Factory has been coming up in conversation which may seem random but allow me to explain to you why it’s not.
Have you ever been to a Cheesecake Factory? If you have then you probably know the fear of looking at their menu. If you’ve never been then let me tell you…...it’s panic inducing. Not only is it at least 20 pages, it has over 250 items and is spiral bound.
Their menu is a novel.
And while I have an issue with having a novel for a menu, the bigger problem is that everything on the menu sounds halfway decent. Amazing? Eh, maybe not everything. But would I eat a fair share of the choices? Yeah, probably.
You would think that having that many options would be exciting but really it’s cause for a panic attack due to some severe analysis paralysis. I don’t want to get into the nitty gritty of it but there is an entire page dedicated solely to eggs. I love eggs but I don’t need 19 different options. So, unless you get the same thing every time, I don’t know anyone who can make an order decision in less than 15 minutes (it takes that long to even scan all the contents of the menu).
I seriously dread this menu. It’s most likely why I avoid this place like the plague but as always, I don’t think it’s a random coincidence that CF (Cheesecake Factory) and this concept of analysis paralysis has been coming up.
You see, right now more than ever we live in a world of options which, much like the CF menu / novel, seem great. But as with the menu, with so many options often comes overwhelm; we freeze up with all of our perceived choices and question if we are making the “right” decision. We never feel fully satisfied with our choice because we want to do it all and are often left wondering if something (someone) else would have been better.
And while analysis paralysis is an uncomfortable feeling, the more insidious and impactful consequence that seems to come from option overload is that we are creating a society and people that don’t know how to truly commit. With endless job boards and more perceived exciting career opportunities, we struggle with committing to jobs for long periods of time (or at the very least staying content with them). With dating apps we can struggle with really getting to know someone or really giving them a fair chance if they don’t blow us out of the water on the first date because of the possibility that there is someone better just a quick swipe away (or again, if in a relationship, perhaps feelings of discontent increase because of perceived “better” options) .
With hobbies, there might always be something that is more fun and interesting and more “you.” With the creation of Pinterest, the options for anything hobby related is quite literally endless (another app I actively avoid because I know overwhelm is inevitable).
I’m not saying any of these things are inherently bad because they’re not. They can be doorways for amazing opportunities and foundations for ideas, relationships and anything else we are looking for in our lives. What I am finding however is that when options increase so does the likelihood of completely freezing due to overwhelm or just being less committed. Either option can lead us to feelings of being stuck and/or having less fulfilling lives and experiences.
As always I speak from personal experience as I am someone who is prone to overwhelm and often struggle with fully committing to things because of this Cheesecake Factory syndrome.
I find myself jumping from one option to the next as so many of us do; chasing the initial thrill and excitement that the beginning phases of an opportunity bring or at least what we hope it brings. It’s easy to jump because when we jump we don’t have to confront the journey of what it truly means to be committed. When we commit to something whether it be a job, relationship, hobby, healthy habit or a side hustle we are also committing to ups and downs; leaps forward; inevitable setbacks and the death of the other options (you can read more about my thoughts on avoiding death here: https://www.biancagabrielle.com/blog/2017/6/23/our-resistance-to-death)
We have to wrestle with the personal demons that arise when the contrast of what we will hope happens is juxtaposed with the reality of the process that actually unfolds and that is when many of us throw in the towel. We assume that the next option will be better; less confronting, easier…...and maybe it is but what we sacrifice when we habitually jump is our own personal growth; what we can discover about ourselves and what we can actually work through given the proper time, energy and dedication.
As I will continue to say, what we resist will always persist. Changing up our lives and exploring new possibilities is not a problem and can be exactly what we need at certain points in our lives; however, if we refuse to confront something in one instance by running or blaming it on someone / something else saything the situation or the person is not “right,” we will most likely have to confront it down the line at another point in time.
Having options is great but if you continuously find yourself lacking clarity, feeling stuck, jumping around in aspects of your life and not really feeling fulfilled, it might be worth asking yourself, “what am I avoiding?” Or if you are avoiding committing to something in your life, asking yourself “What am I unwilling to confront about this situation or myself?”
It might also be worth looking into how you can make your life simpler; reduce your options whether perceived or real; give your brain a break. Our brain can only handle so many options and the more we give it, the more we will get stuck ruminating in our heads and depend less on our gut and intuition which is where our real clarity will always come from.
………...Oh, and also don’t go to restaurants that hand you a novel to pick out your food order.