The Paralyzing Problem of Much Too Much

There is just much too much.  Too much bad information. Too many choices to weed through. We find ourselves in the information age where you are just a keyboard away from getting any information you want, about anything. As usual, our  powerful technology that changes our lives creates unintended consequences we haven’t planned for. In this case, not only can I find fascinating information at the touch of my keyboard, but there is just as much non-relevant non-helpful, and even really harmful information out there that I may very well mistake for REAL information! If I’m not familiar with a given topic, how can I be expected to discern what is real, not real or harmful information? This is a problem of both QUANTITY and QUALITY.  Too much quantity, not enough quality.

For example, if I’m thinking about downsizing and am looking for a senior housing building, I might Google “find the right senior housing.” See what happens below.

The search produced 478,000,000 results. That is a LOT of reading. If you’re not careful, you may end up looking at a sponsored ad instead of a reputable article. You’ll be reading a sales and marketing article, not a non-fiction factual article.

I belong to a network of professionals in Minnesota that produces a Guidebook for senior professionals every year. The Guidebook is meant to facilitate networking among professionals, and to help the social workers and discharge planners in hospitals and rehabilitation units offer the patient information about resources that are available to assist them when they are discharged. There are 1000 pages of resources in the Guidebook, and is getting bigger every year. It’s as fat as the old Dex Yellowpages used to be (remember how heavy they were?). If you asked the social worker for a recommendation of  senior housing in Bloomington, you would likely get a photo copy of a list of senior housing buildings. It would be a place to start, it’s a far cry from a solid recommendation for 2 or 3 buildings to start with.

Stack of Yellow Pages Books

As a consumer it’s GOOD to have lots of choices, right? It turns out, not so much. I don’t think I’ve mentioned this to you, but I have a Master’s degree in Psychology. I’m only sharing that with you now so you can understand why I know about some of these studies that have been done. I’m big on research and giving you the facts.


I hear my clients say “I’m so overwhelmed. I don’t know where to start.” It turns out, one of the things contributing to those feelings of being overwhelmed is all of the research they’ve been doing. When looking for senior housing, there is no shortage of choice. The increase of new construction for senior housing building the last few years has been at a frenzied pace! When my clients tell me they’ve been doing some research…for the last 3 years…I quickly understand why they feel so overwhelmed. Sheena Iyengar, a professor at Columbia University conducted a study about too much choice. With some consumers she offered 24 jams, and to the other group she offered 6 jams. On average, consumers sampled an average of 2 jams, no matter how many they were offered. Sixty percent of consumers stopped to look at the larger display of jams compared to the forty percent that stopped at the smaller display. BUT-get this- 30% of the people who stopped at the smaller assortment of jams purchased a jar of jam, while only 3% of those that stopped at the larger assortment purchased a jar. In this case, while we SAY we want choices, too much choice seems to be debilitating – and this is over a choice of flavors of jam!


Now that we’ve covered the quantity information, I’d like to say a word about the quality of the information. When I Googled “find the right senior housing,” the first half of the page consisted of ads. Half way down the page Google has placed this handy box (shown below) that says “People also ask.” Great! I’d love to see what others are asking!  In the box you’ll see two entries that look very much alike – “What is the cost of senior housing” and “How much is senior living per month?”

Google search information in text box

If I click on the down arrow for those two questions I get the answers (see below). One claims senior living costs $1,500 to $6,000 per month. The other claims assisted living in 2015 costs $3,600 per month. This illustrates the point. There is a LOT of information available about senior housing.

Google search results information in text box

This information is either too broad or too old to be meaningful. In addition, these answers don’t give you information about what is included in the rents. As a consumer you may want to know about meals, housekeeping, transportation, activities, gardens, guest rooms, etc. While the cost of rent offered above is indeed something you need to know to find your next senior housing apartment, this search result has muddled up your search for relevant information that is actually helpful. It’s just too broad, and doesn’t include all of the information you need to make a decision.

Seniors who are downsizing and are in the process of shopping for their new home are often sucked into the vortex of the perfect storm. Too many choices, and poor information.


The search for the perfect senior apartment or 55+ townhome association is also a recipe for misery. The perception of the weight of this decision leads people to ask “Is this the best I can do” or “Is this perfect” instead of “Can I live here and be happy?”  This search for perfection is akin to a gerbil being stuck in a round maze with no exit.  The search for perfection will certainly lead to information overload, and too many imperfect choices.

More choice and crappy information will not lead to your move being less stressful. It will likely have the opposite effect.


I’ll share with you what seems to have been so helpful with so many of our clients that feel so stuck in their current house. First, we start with the one thing. That one big thing that makes them sit bolt upright in the middle of the night with butterflies in their stomach. For some people it’s THAT ROOM. You know the one. The one where you throw all of your stuff you don’t know what else to do with. It’s the gifts that weren’t really a good fit, that project you’ll get to one day, etc. If that’s the one thing that gives you anxiety, START THERE!  For some people it may be paper. You may have saved every piece of mail, every notice, every bill and every drawing your children ever made you. As a result you have a desk, a closet, or an entire basement filled with paper. If that’s the one thing that gives you anxiety, START THERE!  Get some help from an organizer if you need to. If you’re looking for one, contact me, I know some great ones.

Small child overwhelmed by piles of paper


This process of downsizing is about freedom. Freedom from feeling stuck, and being overwhelmed. Freedom from yard work, outside maintenance, and living a more worry-free and responsibility-free life. Too much choice could decrease your freedom if you spend so much time trying to make choices.