Do you suffer from option reduction anxiety?

Do you suffer from option reduction anxiety?

You know the feeling. It’s that stress you feel when you have to choose between your many interests. There’s only so much time, which do you pick? You hate even the idea that you should choose. In fact, you hate it so much, the thought of it is downright upsetting. It’s like asking which of your kids you want to keep.


We love to keep our options open. So much so that we may make decisions that are not in our self-interest just to do so. Researchers at Duke University devised a video game that rewarded participants with real cash for collecting rewards they found in a room. The most lucrative strategy was to stay in the room with the most rewards. However, once the researchers introduced a new feature to make the door for that room disappear, thereby locking them out of other rooms, participants quickly jumped from room to just to keep the doors open, even though that approach lowered their real-life cash earnings.

I’ve been a frequent sufferer of option reduction anxiety. I created a tee-shirt to express it. “So many ideas, so little time,” it says. One of the strategies I’ve taken to keep it in check, however, it is rather counterintuitive: I never kill an idea. You know, to dismiss it immediately by thinking, “No, I don’t have time for that.” I’ve found that when I’m dismissive like that, my mind overly complies by shutting down my idea factory altogether.

It’s true. I don’t have time to implement every idea I come up with. Neither do you. To be sure, we must choose the things that will merit our present attention. But in making that choice we don’t have to kill the idea altogether and suffer the anxiety of it. Instead, we can incubate it by putting it on a “Good Ideas That Can Wait” list. Doing so keep our exuberance in check so that we don’t invest energy in every idea our creative minds conceive. And it gives our ideas a place to exist until it merits our attention again.

You and I have all the time we need to do what God put us here to do. We don’t need to entertain every option, flittering between them like the gamers who frantically jump from room to room just to keep the doors to their rooms open. We’re called to engage the most vital and let the rest incubate.

At the Dream Intensive workshops I discuss option reduction anxiety and other concepts that can help you pursue the dream God has put within you. If you’re ready to discover and ignite your dream, I invite you to join me in Denver on February 27-28. It’s our last Dream Intensive workshop until February 2016. Learn more at

What approaches have you taken to manage option reduction anxiety?

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3 thoughts on “Do you suffer from option reduction anxiety?

  1. I once heard a quote, “You can have anything you want, just not everything you want.”Great blog post. I’m in the same boat. I have a thousand ideas, including a list of 30+ book titles I want to write, but not one book written yet. Jesus said, if your eye (focus) is single, your whole body will be full of light.

  2. @Jeremy its true if our mind focus on one things and if we are passionate about that then one day we will get that thing. But if we focus on more things then we will get nothing, just need to concentrate on one thing.

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