Thursday, February 16, 2012

Too Many Choices

OK people.

As if Birdie Boot Camp isn't enough to keep me busy and teetering on the edge of craziness, I'm about to add yet another project to the mix.

I mentioned a month or so ago that I read a book called 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker.

The book just came out in January so odds are good you may not be familiar with it yet.

So here's the book trailer for those of you who prefer seeing what a book is about.  Of course, that leads me to wonder if you'll actually read a book if you can't even read the description of what it's about but I'll leave that up to you....

7 Book Trailer

If you'd like to read about the book in Jen's own words, click here to check it out.

Now, in my words, here's what I got out of the book in one simple sentence:

Lots of times, we complicate our own lives because we have too many choices.

I think most of us would agree that we all have a bunch of stuff.

And perusing the shelves of a bookstore pretty much confirms what we already know.  We can find tons of books about simplifying.  Scaling back.  Downsizing.  Dumping the clutter.  Organizing.

But this is where 7 differs in it's approach.  The author, Jen, doesn't suggest that we get rid of all of our stuff and become minimalists.  And she doesn't teach us nifty ways to organize all our things.

Rather, 7 was an experiment.  Jen simply eliminated some of the choices she faced every day to see if it made her life simpler.

So, in Amazon's words, here's what she did:

7 is the true story of how Jen (along with her husband and her children to varying degrees) took seven months, identified seven areas of excess, and made seven simple choices to fight back against the modern-day diseases of greed, materialism, and overindulgence.

Food. Clothes. Spending. Media. Possessions. Waste. Stress. They would spend thirty days on each topic, boiling it down to the number seven. Only eat seven foods, wear seven articles of clothing, and spend money in seven places. Eliminate use of seven media types, give away seven things each day for one month, adopt seven green habits, and observe “seven sacred pauses.” So, what’s the payoff from living a deeply reduced life? It’s the discovery of a greatly increased God—a call toward Christ-like simplicity and generosity that transcends social experiment to become a radically better existence.

Sounds radical, right?

But here's what I love about the book - It doesn't have to be that radical.  Jen is not telling us to take this experiment and do it exactly like she did.  It's not meant to be a template.  

It's meant to get your wheels turning.  To help you identify some areas where you might just have too many stinkin' choices.  Then you can make your life easier by eliminating some of those choices.

Let me give you an example: 

I currently have enough recipes in my possession that I'm pretty confident I can't cook all of them before I die.  I have that many.  Yet I find myself still perusing online and looking at cookbooks.  And then when I sit down to make a weekly menu and grocery list, it becomes a headache.  See, my palate would like to try new things.  But my life right now doesn't allow me much time or money to plan these elaborate, new, exciting menus.

I need to eliminate some choices in the area of food.  Now, I'm not going to eat only seven foods for one month like Jen did.  But I can create a menu for a month of meals:  choose my favorite recipes and put them in a weekly rotation.  Each month, the rotation starts again.  I can even have a make-ahead grocery list for each week of the rotation.  

And then I can be done.

Removing all the endless choices of recipes will save me time and make my life easier.  

Think how difficult it can be to make a simple decision sometimes.  If we didn't have so many choices, it wouldn't be so hard to choose.

And that's pretty much what I got out of 7.  

While it can be wonderful to live in the time that we do, with all the choices that we have, sometimes, all those choices can complicate things.  Muddy the waters.  Make our lives harder, instead of easier.

So the project I'm embarking on is to take a look around at my life, my home, my calendar.  To look for the areas of my life where the abundance of choices is not actually helping me, but stressing me out.

And them I'm going to eliminate some of that abundance of choice.

And I'm not going to replace it with more choices.

I'm just going to let it be.

And breathe.


  1. Sounds intriguing. I can't wait to read this one. I like your take on it as well Lana. I never thought about it like this before, so it should prove an interesting read for me. Usually I keep everything cleaned out, decluttered, etc., but hey, there is always room for improvement and this is indeed another point of view which I am interested in reading about. Thanks for the tip.

    1. I'm pretty good at keeping things uncluttered and cleared out but removing some of my choices in food and clothing especially might make my life a little simpler. And that would be a good thing...

  2. While I've not read the book, I like your spin on it. Its something I can do as well in almost every aspect of my life. Great info!

    1. It's funny when you start thinking of how hard it can be to decide something - even something not that important - and realize maybe it's because there's simply too many things to pick from. Same thing we do with our kiddos - "want to wear this shirt or this shirt?" Easy. Yet we have 100 choices ourselves and nothing to wear! :)

  3. Good luck with this project -- it sounds very worthwhile! (Although I will miss scooping up all your recipe pins on Pinterest!)

    1. I'm hoping it's helps simplify a few things - though you'll probably still see me pinning recipes, maybe I just won't cook them!

  4. This sounds like something I need to do. I have way too much stuff. And a lot of it - I don't even use. But I like your adaption of it. I don't know if I can go cold turkey.

    1. I'm hoping less choices in a few areas will make things easier around here. I'm just going to try one thing at at time, though....

  5. Wait till you get a LOL older. You choices get fewer and fewer be cause there are more and more things you can't do so that eliminates a bunch of choices.


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