Are You Stuck?Sep 28, 2023
The awareness of healthy longevity and the role of place seems to be on the rise. Through their bestselling books and podcasts, longevity experts, such as Peter Attia, David Sinclair and Mark Hyman, are helping people become more cognizant of the role of lifestyle choices have in extending and improving our lives. At the same time, Dan Buettner has educated people on the role place in living longer and better lives through his series of Blue Zone books and the recent Netflix series Live to 100: Secrets of the Blue Zones.
Awareness is helpful, but action is necessary as well.
Are You Stuck?
A common problem people face is that they are stuck.
In my observation working and speaking with people across the U.S. and beyond, I see two primary reasons why people are stuck. First, for various reasons outside of their control, they may be stuck in place. They cannot make significant changes to their place even if they want to. Second, people can feel paralyzed based on the paradox of choice. Too many options (and the complexity of evaluating them) can cause their decision-making systems to break down. It can be even more challenging when optimizing for the needs and desires of each member of a couple.
Common Challenge #1: Stuck in Place
A variety of conditions can lead to being stuck in place. For some in today’s environment, they may not be able to sell their home at an attractive price or be able to sell it all. This dynamic can be further challenged if the home is highly leveraged. There may be little equity value in the home, even if it can be sold. It may be better to wait until the housing market improves.
Relationships with others can also lead to being stuck in place. Perhaps your kids go to a great school system and leaving the area would compromise their education. Maybe you need to look after someone – an adult child, aging parent, or ailing spouse – and making a change would compromise your ability to support that person.
In other cases, being stuck in place may be a matter of economics. Your current housing environment is not ideal but attractive alternatives are limited. You believe that the only option is to improve your present situation.
Cereals, like toothpaste and many other consumer categories, have exploded with many different options making it complicated to find the right solution for you. Psychologists call this the paradox of choice. (Photo by Franki Chamaki on Unsplash)
Common Challenge #2: The Paradox of Choice Leading to Paralysis
Another common challenge, ironically, is having too many options. Psychologists call this the paradox of choice. Many of us encounter this dynamic when shopping at the grocery store. For example, it used to be that there were maybe a half dozen toothpaste choices with each major brand offering one solution, just in different sizes. Today, there are dozens of options, with each brand marketing different options focusing on cavity prevention, teeth whitening, mint flavoring, etc. So many alternatives can create anxiety (“Which is the right one for me?”) and dissatisfaction with your ultimate choice (“Am I sure I got the right one?”).
With the paradox of choice, people understand that place matters, but they don’t know how to narrow their search and refine their thinking across a nearly limitless list of options. Should I move to this metropolitan area or that one? Should I be in an urban or suburban area? Single-family house or an apartment? The number of alternatives can overwhelm the capacity to make a decision.
The dynamic is further complicated when multiple decision makers are involved, such as the in the context of couples. Different abilities to process complex decisions and different preferences can stymie progress. The result is an impasse. Alternatives to their current place exist but they can’t find a way to get to a better place.
Ways to Move Forward
In their first case, one way to move forward is to focus on what you can control. Improving your place may not necessarily involve a move; it may involve reorienting yourself to your current place. It could be as simple as making efforts to make new friends to improve your social network or being more intentional in finding ways to be more physically active in your current place. There may be straightforward, untapped ways to improve your life in your current home.
In the second case, a key step is to focus on finding a better, but not necessarily perfect, place. Chasing the perfect place is a fool’s errand – your perfect place likely doesn’t exist. Look to make tangible progress rather than getting caught in analysis by paralysis or simply giving up. Try to identify the next possible step. Examples may include talking to a friend who has made a decision about place or visiting a potential future place.
Knowledge is power – and such is the case about understanding the power of place – but it may not be enough. Beware of getting stuck. It happens to many of us. However, don’t give up. There are concrete ways to get unstuck and making progress to finding your better place.
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