Paralysed by Choice

We live in an age packed with more choice than ever.  According to studies, the average person makes about 612 decisions a day.  The internet has multiplied our options exponentially.  We have the world at our fingertips and are better positioned now to make something of ourselves than any generation before us.

Suit and Tie Nails Left

The question is, are all these choices helping or hindering us?

I need only think back to when I was at school to remember how I, and most of my peers, had absolutely no idea what we wanted to be when we were older and the pressure of picking the correct subjects to propel us toward our dreams was quite frankly paralysing.  It was particularly frustrating when we were being asked to decide by the very people who we felt contained the answers.  We weren’t experienced enough to make these sorts of decisions.  Why was our future being left to us?

Ten years on I still don’t know if I made the right choices.  Thankfully I’m happy where I am, but I don’t think studying Latin got me here.

Which begs the question, do our choices even matter?

I’m sure they do, and I’m very grateful that I have any possibilities or opportunities in life at all.  I know there are many people around the world who don’t – women in particular.    But the problem with all this choice is, though the world is my veritable oyster, I’m not quite sure what to do with it.

On a simplistic level, I see this play out every time I paint someone’s nails.  I’ll ask them which colours they prefer, what design they’d like on each nail and so on.  Even after showing them endless examples and explaining what the outcome would be with each scenario, they still look at me as if to say ‘surely you know better?’.

I have actually taken to giving people fewer options when painting their nails just to avoid watching them seize up and removing any sense of pleasure from the experience.

Studies have shown that we are more likely to enjoy making a decision if we are presented with fewer choices.  The key is to determine what our end goal is.

My method for deciding a design is to narrow down the options one by one – what colours do I want to have on this week?  What tools do I want to try out?  What are my top three favourite designs that I have seen recently?  Piecing these details together I can always come up with something.

When I started out with nailart the weekly decision-making process was long and laborious but with practice I definitely became more adept at it.  I soon realised that I could have my cake and eat it – if there were too many designs I wanted to try, I could placate myself with the thought that if I didn’t opt for one this week, I could try it next week.

I guess that’s the beauty with nailart – it’s not a life-changing decision and your choices aren’t mutually exclusive.  You could always do each nail with a different pattern if you really wanted to.

Retro Geometric Nails

Case in point!

The same can be said for canapés, tapas and boxes of chocolates – if you really want to, there’s nothing to stop you from trying all the options.

The problem is that, in life, the choices we make aren’t temporary trivialities such as nourishment or nailart.  It turns out Forrest Gump wasn’t right after all – life is not like a box of chocolates.  We can’t have ten spouses at the same time or change our job each week depending on our mood, which is why, so often, I see friends delaying making any decision at all for fear they’ll make the wrong one.

Theodore Roosevelt said ‘In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing.  The worst thing you can do is nothing.’

I actually think that there is often more than one right path to take and if we pray about it and push enough doors eventually one will open.  It certainly takes the pressure off.

So, what if we take the lessons we’ve learnt from making small decisions and apply them to the big ones too?  If eliminating our options has been shown to reduce anxiety, and the key is to keep the end goal in mind, can we practise doing this with the easy decisions and remember these tips when we come to tackle the trickier choices too?

Could this in fact be the day that we finally make that 613th decision?


This week’s choice of nailart was galaxy nails – I’d seen them around, they seemed suitably wintery, but sparkly enough for a wedding I was going to and were super simple too.  I really like them, but already after one day, I feel like repainting my nails – I just need to decide what to go for.   After all I’m not immune to choices – just gradually getting better at making them!


For this design, in addition to your base and top coat, you’ll need a black, white, light blue and glitter polish.


I went for Knockout, White on White, Blue Lagoon and Sequins all by Revlon.

1. Prep your nails with a layer of base coat and then apply two coats of your black nail varnish.

2. Next blob random lines or swirls of white varnish on your nails – this will act as a base for the light blue and make it stand out better against the black.

3. Paint over the white using your light blue polish.

4.  Taking a brush loaded with your sequin varnish paint a thick coat over the whole design and finally seal with your top coat.

Here’s a more recent Galaxy Nails design, done using the same technique but with a variety of colours.

Galaxy Nails

There you have it – by far one of the easiest designs, and no need for any nailart tools at all.  Surely there’s no two ways about it – it’s definitely one to try!

If you want more inspiration follow me on Instagram or Twitter and if you give this design a go, tag your photos @tillynailart so I can see too.


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