Do you Experience Choice Overload? Go Shopping for Jam!

choice overload Zilvold Coaching & Training Blog
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Every day, we’re overwhelmed with choices in so many parts of our life. This article can help you deal with choice overload.

In the book “The defining Decade,” Meg Jay writes about a psychology study called the “Jam experiment.” It was done by Sheena Iyengar of Columbia University Mark R. Lepper of Stanford University.

The Jam experiment

One of three experiments was the Jam experiment. The researchers set up a table at a grocery store with 24 different kinds of exclusive Wilkin and Sons jams on two consecutive Saturdays. After an hour, they changed the table and presented six kinds of Wilkin and Sons jams.

The shoppers who came to the tables to taste a jam (or jelly) received a $ 1 coupon for their future purchases.

The researchers found that the table with 24 jams attracted more shoppers, but only three percent of them bought a jar. Of those who visited the table with only six jams, 30 percent purchased jam.

Thus, if shoppers have too many choices, they are less likely to buy than shoppers exposed to limited choices.

When we have too many options to choose from in our lives,
we have more trouble deciding.

The “choice overload” leads to stress and causes us to freeze (not capable of making a decision), fight (argument what choice would be better), or flight (we look for more choices). By postponing choices, we lose time which is not safe. You will have to deal with the consequences later in your life.

How to deal with choice overload

So, what to do when you experience choice overload? Go shopping for jam!

We want fewer choices and what we can learn from the above experiment is that we should limit the number of choices. I suggest you move from the 24-flavor table to the six-flavor table by thinking of actual (realistic) options.

A first step to limit your choices is to explore your identity capital. According to Meg Jay, this is your collection of assets and resources you have assembled over time.

These are the things that go on your resumé, such as education, courses, jobs, and other accomplishments. Your identity capital also consists of your unique talents, ways of communicating, your character strengths or values. It is all that you can bring to the workplace: your job, your study, your business, or even a volunteering position.

Then, read this article to discover what you are good at. It helps you to find the common thread in your life to make easier and more conscious choices to perform better and live a happier life.

Next, when you have narrowed down your most important choices, write one choice down on this choice template. Then, discover how it is (or not) in line with what you want in the areas of your personal life, your career, your relationships, or your personal development.

Begin with WHY

But it all begins with WHY. Your WHY is your cause and what you believe in. Everyone has a unique WHY and it consists of a contribution and its impact on the world. A WHY is always positive and actionable. By having your WHY as a reference, you’ll be able to make more intentional choices for your career, business, and life.

When you have to decide in life, ask yourself if this choice enables you to live your WHY.

You can read more about discovering your WHY here. Do you want to discover your own WHY? I can help you as a partner! Contact us today for a free intake session!


The most important thing to do is breathe when you feel overwhelmed by choices. We tend to hold our breath when we are stressed, in panic, or afraid. Breathe in for five seconds, hold your breath for five seconds and breathe out for five seconds. Do this for a couple of minutes, and you’ll feel more calm, self-assured, optimistic, and creative to do something.

Doing something, like shopping for jam, is the only way to find out what to do.

What do you do when you are overwhelmed with choices? How do you make choices? Let me know in the comment field below. The other readers of this article. and I are looking forward to reading from you!

Thank you for reading up to here & sharing this article with your colleagues, friends, or family. You are welcome to copy parts of this blog if you state the sources. And please SHARE this article with your network on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn by pressing the buttons below so that they can also benefit from this article about dealing with a choice overload.

Have you seen an error in this article? Let me know! I am grateful!

-“The Defining Decade”, Meg, Jay
-When Choice is Demotivating: Can One Desire Too Much of a Good Thing?, Sheena S. Iyengar Columbia University and Mark R. Lepper Stanford University

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Charles Bill
Charles Bill
11 February 2022 13:05

In a similar vein, I read somewhere that when selling a product or a service, you should only give up to 3 good reasons why the buyer should get it. If you give more reasons, you are offering more “choice” for the buyer to object and if they feel that even one reason isn’t acceptable, they are more likely not to buy!