In 1995 a professor of business at Columbia University, Sheena Iyengar, and Stanford University psychologist, Mark Lepper, conducted a study on the psychology of choice when presented with many options. How did they do this? With jams. They set up two tables at a grocery store, one displaying a selection of 24 jams, the other, six jams. When presented with a coupon after sampling, those who went to the table offering the smaller sample selection were 10 times more likely to purchase a jar than those who approached the larger assortment. Since then, many other studies of similar nature have been conducted, all of which present a rather loud and curious conclusion—more options are not necessarily better. Now, this isn’t to say it’s bad. But as humans we tend to believe that having more choices is more freeing and opens up more possibilities. This is true! Sort of. Physically it does provide more possibility; however, emotionally, more is found to be paralyzing. We want more choices, but when presented with them, we get…well, jammed.
I get this. At this very moment I have available to me all sorts of materials to create art: watercolor, acrylic, oil paint, pastels, sexy mechanical pencils (again, packaging), markers, artist pens, gorgeous fabrics, charcoal, fine papers, canvases, panel boards, iPad and pencil for digital drawing, and other non-traditional materials that are equally as exciting and challenging to work with…in summation, I am one frack’n lucky gal. And I have, perhaps, too many choices. But I’ve gathered all this over many, many years, with the thought that I want to be able to jump at any project as soon as it comes to mind, without being confronted with the excuse of necessary materials not being within reach. This is a fairly reasonable thought and plan. Until you add to this that my brain is constantly churning ideas, most of which excite me and are added to the “absolutely must do” list. So you see, I now have an abundance of possibility in both materials/execution, and ideas. Far better than facing scarcity, but still a far cry from ideal. So I’ve come to realize. I’ve been, essentially, erecting two tables through the years and stacking both high with jars upon jars of ridiculously tempting and undoubtedly tasty jams, and am now rapid-fire whipping my head back and forth desperately trying to make up my mind where to begin!
When I think of jam, Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass comes to mind:
“I’m sure I’ll take you with pleasure!” the Queen said. “Twopence a week, and jam every other day.”
Alice couldn’t help laughing, as she said, “I don’t want you to hire ME—and I don’t care for jam.”
“It’s very good jam,” said the Queen.
“Well, I don’t want any TO-DAY, at any rate.”
“You couldn’t have it if you DID want it,” the Queen said. “The rule is, jam to-morrow and jam yesterday—but never jam to-day.”
“It MUST come sometimes to ‘jam to-day,’” Alice objected.
“No, it can’t,” said the Queen. “It’s jam every OTHER day: to-day isn’t any OTHER day, you know.”
“I don’t understand you,” said Alice. ‘It’s dreadfully confusing!”
Amen, Alice! Dreadfully confusing, indeed. Also, terribly unfortunate! From this, the phrase “jam tomorrow” came to be, and we now have a more concise way of alluding to that oh-so pleasant event of the future that will likely never come to be. Forget jam—get me out of this pickle!
The paradox of choice exists because so many options present our minds with analysis overload—is this what I really want? Is it the BEST choice? What if it’s bad?! Will I miss out if I don’t go with that one instead? Gah, why do I feel so STRESSED and ANXIOUS over flavors of JAM!? Obviously, jam is now standing in for larger decisions to be made…just in case you actually thought I’d lose my mind over cooked sugar fruit in adorable jars—it’s always strawberry, then fig, and of course whatever your wonderful mother makes you that day. ;) But seriously, how to get this jam un-pickled? I have some thoughts and ideas (maybe too many?!), and realize that ultimately it comes down to one action at a time. And ACTION being key here. I recently wrapped up Grant Cardone’s The 10X Rule, and without getting into great detail (because you should read it, or better yet listen to it), the essence of this book is that taking action (and taking it NOW) is key to success and thriving. I’ve already brought up Mel Robbins’ The 5 Second Rule (numbers and rules!), so these two reads combined have been quite powerful for me. Rather than worry over what is the right or best decision—a mental struggle that causes me to 1) do nothing and/or 2) retreat—I ought to charge my passion to full blast and grab whatever materials I’ve got to begin churning out work. I know that this action would result in greater clarity for me, and open more exciting doors as questions regarding methods are answered, and uncertainty as to desired style is approached and worked through. And so…ciao for now!
;) But truly, I’m out of here for now. Avoiding traffic jams to take all that otherwise lost time for productivity, jamming to my current favorites (short list provided below) whilst I create, fueling my momentum with homemade blueberry and strawberry jams with fresh parmigiano from Italia, and action-ing my way out of this pickle jam that I may jam TODAY and EVERYDAY. But I’ll be back with updates on progress made and won’t leave you hanging—that’s not my jam.
Run by Delta Rae
Want to Want Me by Jason Derulo
It Ain’t Me by Kygo with Selena Gomez
The Greatest by Sia & Kendrick Lamar
Berlin by Bear’s Den
Lean by VHS Collection
Faster by Mat Nathanson
Darling by Adam Barnes
Arizona by Frances Cone