Thoughts on the Paradox of Choice — A Framework for Decision Making.
If you want to be or you are already financially independent, this article is for you.
For a common understanding, let’s start with the definition.
Financial independence Wikipedia
The following thoughts are based on a few assumptions. Those assumptions help to navigate to a particular aspect of being post-economic.
You somehow figured it out. You are financially independent — congratulations, you accomplished your goal.
For the sake of argument, I would like to add some assumptions.
While achieving financial independence, you managed to
- Take care of your physical and mental health.
- Maintain healthy relationships — partner, family, friends.
- Buy all the possessions you ever dreamed of — housing, transportation, luxury goods.
- Accomplish your non-financial goals. Starting a family, climbing Mount Everest, the usual things.
And you took care of your family and friends by making sure the assumptions are also valid for them.
Accomplishing your goals might create a void. Similar to the ending of your favourite Netflix Series. You could argue that the next step is closing the void. You could also say that going with the flow and not planning is also acceptable.
The following is for those who want to make an intentional decision and not simply go with the flow. Going with the flow, by the way, is excellent.
The good thing is: You are independent and in control of your time and your decisions.
The less good thing is: There are endless possibilities on how to allocate your time.
Which one is the right path to choose?
For some people, this question might be easy to answer. Others end up crippled because they face the paradox of choice. They should be happy about all those options and possibilities, but choosing the wrong option scares them so much that they instead do nothing.
So you are sitting there with a list of things you could do, unable to decide what to do.
How do I figure out which of the options is the right one?
There needs to be something. Some point of reference is required to decide whether an option is “right” or “wrong” — something to evaluate the options to.
Choosing a reference point might also be challenging. The following is a suggestion for a framework to define a point of reference and later decide what to do next.
Reference Points aka. follow up questions
Whom do you want to help?
a) Yourself — do something that makes you happy. Be selfish and take care of yourself. This can be anything.
b) Family & Friends — Remember they are already doing great. What is left is probably a lot of quality time with your beloved ones.
c) Others — Think about all the people on this planet that have endless problems. You could do something to help them. From providing valuable information writing articles to build a service or a product that helps those people.
If you solely choose option a) or/and b), there should be no further help needed. Just do you and enjoy whatever you are up to. Life is short. Please make the most of it and enjoy it as much as possible.
If option c) was your choice, here are some further questions. By the way: Of course, you can have all three options. Still, if you want to help others, you need to know what problem you want to solve for other people.
What problem do you want to solve?
Remember, you are financially independent. You do not need to work to make a living. If you decide to help others, it most likely will end up in something you might call “work.” So basically, you are going back to the thing you got rid of by becoming financially independent.
What level of commitment is in there?
How much do you want this problem to be solved? Would it be “nice,” or do you want to sweat blood and tears to get it done? Your level of commitment will be framed by the amount of time, the level of stress, and the urgency you feel about the problem.
What can I contribute to the solution?
To answer this question, you need to be honest with yourself. First, you should be honest about the level of commitment. Second, you should accept who you are and what you are capable of. Of course, I want Alzheimer’s disease to be cured, but I am not a neuroscientist or doctor. But maybe I am great at communications or know how to build a business, or I am great at fundraising. The bigger the problem, the more people with different skills are needed to solve it. Be honest with yourself and decide how you want to contribute.
Final Step: Test your assumptions and iterate based on your findings.
Choosing a problem, defining the level of commitment, and figuring out how to contribute will be it. You made your choice, et voilà. Up until the point, you have tried it out. This is a hypothesis that needs to be tested.
Figure out a way to test your hypothesis against reality. Try to get involved in the problem space as quickly as possible and see if it motivates you, gives you joy, or any other form of non-monetary reward.
Often you will realise that your choice was based on false assumptions. Maybe you romanticised too much about the problem. Or your level of commitment was lower than you expected. Perhaps you need to adjust the way of contribution because the chosen path was not satisfying enough.
To summarise it.
- Choose your target “customer.”
- Choose the problem you want to be solved.
- Choose your level of commitment.
- Choose your way of contribution.
- Do it as quick as possible and reflect.
If you are not happy with the result after step 5; Go back to step 1 and repeat the whole process.
I hope you find this article helpful. And by the way: Maybe this process can help you figure out what to do in life to become financially independent in the first place.
PS: Thanks for reading. You are awesome.