Too many choices are stressful

 

September 7, 2016

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I appointed a 22 year old girl pursuing her MBA as Intern in my department. The first day she joined, I asked her to study the brochures, product information and the company information. After an hour or so, she came rushing to me and asking I want to speak to you. I also got restless, as she seemed panicked. Then she revealed that, “I can’t do this, this is too technical and I am not able to understand anything.” I heard her and noticed her thought process– she did graduation in English, doesn’t understand technical and mathematics well (run away), and doing MBA

She turned out to be a good choice, I liked her traits like:

  • If she liked the job, she would finish in one go without breaks.
  • Ownership – even when she was not well she would work from home and finish the job.
  • Good communication skills
  • Mature in dealing with people

These days, the colleges strongly recommends students to take up additional courses along with the regular course. This infuses insecurities, confuse and distracts them. They become incompetent to decide and take a course. Ankita asked me once, if she should take up additional courses and which ones to pursue. I asked her few questions as I was wondering we never got time to do additional thing during our MBA. She convinced me (as she was by the college counsellor) why it is needed.

She would go to multiple people and ask them their experience and how they grew in their career. I was impressed as it is the best way to learn but didn’t know that it creates further confusion. More the exposure the worst it is.

I gauged from Ankita’s talks as she belonged from affluent family, studying in an expensive college, she herself mentioned that her dad gets her everything she asks for, with English as background she wanted to do journalism or mass communication and I don’t know how she landed in MBA (I am sure got influenced with someone’s advice). She told me, I will not do a job if its less than INR 35000 as that much her father gives her as pocket money. She can’t work in IT, data jobs or any number crunching kind of jobs. She told me 2-3 of her friends have already given up on MBA as they now want to do teaching. She once asked me how about changing the college and do MBA second year from another college.

On the last day of her internship, she told me that she has a steady boyfriend, a businessman himself. She is under pressure from Dad that she doesn’t need to work and then her “Do’s and Don’ts”.  Here what I advised her:

  • When money is not a consideration, why she is making it consideration for a job, like only going for INR 35000 kind of job. Her motivation should be learning, job role and experience.
  • I told her to look for motivation and passion. She just can’t be drifted around by the experiences of others. She just can’t be influenced with how other are taking a call.
  • I told her to be patient, and just can’t have too many choices, as the resources and money is not an issue.
  • I told her to focus on her MBA, she was stressing about the placements, which she may not even end up doing

I wondered everything is good for this girl, however, still she is so confused and stressed with abundance of choices, money, advices, experiences, all at once. I remembered one of the psychologists quotes – “I maintain that it is specifically the overabundance of attractive alternatives, aided and abetted by an affluent and increasingly complex society, that leads to conflict, frustration, unrelieved appetitive tension, more approach tendencies and more conflict — a veritable vicious cycle.” In other words, if you have too many choices, it can stress you out. And that can be true whether those choices are heart-wrenching or trivial.

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