The Millennial: Choice Overload & Fear of Failure

It's no secret that I like to try new things. Whether it's a new flavor at my favorite local ice-cream shop, a recipe in Food & Wine or some new trick or trade I found perusing online or through my Instagram feed. I think being in your 20's is for trying, creating, developing, failing and then trying again. Yet more often than not I forget failing is part of the process, not something to be avoided at all costs. 

As the oldest child in my family I often take on too much responsibility, assuming it's my role to fix whatever is in front of me at all costs. Anyone else relate? I often fulfill the classic stereotype: over-responsible, bossy, control freak older sister. It’s not that I mean to be that way, but something deep inside of me feels obligated to step in, reach out, help and solve the problem. But honestly I think it’s more than that – I think I’m afraid of failing. 

So when asked to commit to new things, somewhere in the back of my mind I'm weighing the possibility of failure and as much as I hate to admit it, I'm giving in to fear. I don't think I'm alone in this - it's not unusual to hear people talk about the millennial generation's aversion to commitment. 

I recently read an article about millennials and commitment. The author referenced several studies, but one in particular caught my attention. Two psychologists from Stanford and Columbia surveyed grocery shoppers in the early 2000's (hang with me for a moment here). Shoppers were asked to select a jam from six different options and then again from 24 options. Researchers found that more shoppers purchased the jams selected in the first round than the second and reported higher levels of satisfaction. Their findings seemed to indicate that more didn't actually mean more; the options inhibited choice, led to less sales and less satisfied customers. 

What does jam have to do with millennials and commitment? In the world of "choice overload" where millennials are encouraged to choose their own career path and make their own choices, there exists an underlying fear of commitment, and ultimately failure. It's as if there's a little voice in our heads begging us to select the right choice and motivating us by the fear of choosing wrong. 

And for someone who feels responsible all too easily, the fear can sometimes prevent any movement at all. I'm very aware of the reality that my choices matter, but I'm going to choose wrong sometimes, and that's ok. If failure is inevitable at one point or another, then let's choose boldly and commit fully, recognizing we are all in process together. 

So, let's try new things, but not stand in front of the aisle too long, mulling over each option in fear of missing the best one.