The Paralyzing Paradox of Possibility

Having too many choices can be paralyzing.

Right decison road sign

Especially for entrepreneurs, who tend to have dozens of ideas per day, and see possibilities everywhere, this can become a real problem.

There’s a saying in marketing: a confused mind never buys.

If you’re an entrepreneur who has so many great ideas you can’t seem to choose which one to focus on, your answer is glaringly obvious (but probably difficult for you to recognize).

You just need to limit your choices.

Write all your ideas down (in a Moleskine journal, for instance). Then you can feel safe knowing that they are securely stored for the future.

When it comes time to choose your next project, however, limit yourself to choosing from your top three current ideas.

Don’t become paralyzed by the paradox of possibility.

Question: have you ever felt frozen by having too many possibilities to choose from? How did you overcome that?

Ray Edwards is a world-renowned copywriter and communications strategist, writing for some of the most powerful voices in leadership and business including New York Times bestselling authors Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen (Chicken Soup for the Soul) and Tony Robbins. Ray is a sought-after speaker and author, hosts a popular weekly podcast, and blogs at

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  • It’s like a vicious circle, I know what I’m called to do, but a seemingly great idea shows up. I want to pursue the shiny object, but confusion leads to inaction. Then I think I need a new idea to rescue me from the doldrums, but that leads me further down the paralysis spiral, leading to doubting whether I was called to business at all. Thankfully I’m married to an awesome woman who gets me back on track by reminding me of the power of one. One idea + one coach + one focus = results

    • Thanks Marshall, I appreciate your thoughts.

  • This post reminds of me of a book I read a while ago called “The Paradox of Choice” by Barry Schwartz. May be time to read it again.

    • Jason, that is a fantastic book. It’s been a long time since I’ve read it, but perhaps I too will revisit.

  • A great man once said to me “The secret of success is to work on your business rather than in your business”
    Pro’s and con’s to this position are you will avoid information overload, get much more done, be more strategic and more efficient. All these things sounds great, but the downside is you need money to outsource those things you do not feel comfortable with or that would impede your progress

    • “You can do anything you want, but you can’t do everything you want.”

      I don’t know who said it, but it’s brilliant.

  • “You just need to limit your choices”

    I was always scared to limit my choices because I was scared of missing out, so I tried to do everything, which just frustrated me and everyone around me! Then a friend told me that the “fear of missing out” was simply a spirit of poverty. I wanted to do everything because I didn’t really believe God had an abundance for me right where I was.

    I’m still doing many different things, but that’s because of my need for variety, it’s no longer driven by fear of missing out. It’s a great feeling!

    I’ve only been following you for about a month, but I notice from your podcasts we have some of the same friends. I’ve appreciated your authenticity. As a pastor turned consultant I think sometimes I’ve been a little too “covert” and now I’ve decided to be more overt in my speaking and writing! Thank you!

  • Sound wisdom here. On multiple levels. Kudos on condensing into a short post.

  • Bee Johnson

    You bet I have been paralyzed by too many opportunities and possibilities. Every day almost. This week though after reading this post, and several others by you, I am starting over. Time management — the timer — email only once a day. And I have to stick to my plan. Thanks Ray!

  • Oh my gosh Choices! I have sat and try to figure out what to do, and yes when you got too many choices you end up making no choice at all.. which is really a choice.. lol
    What I tend to do when it gets to that point where I just got too many things to choose from? I ask myself, what is most important? What can wait? What will make me money now or will it be something I can put off? Once I have made that choice to do one thing. It comes easier to do something.
    For example
    What I offer on my website gives you so many choices to choose from. I have worked really hard to trying to help my customer make a choice. If you got so many things of so many different colors, types etc it can stop someone from buying it! Just doing something simple like making categories so that they can search by color can make a sale. (I have been thanked for how I got things setup) 😉
    When you got too many choices of what you sell, you can make a customer feel dumb because they don’t know or understand what it is.

    So if you write, or add anything that stops that person from feeling dumb they tend to buy. No one likes to feel dumb even I have walked a way from buying something because I felt kinda of stupid for not understanding what it was used for. And I didn’t want to feel worse because I had to ask about it..