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Business Unplugged™
This blog features Carol Roth's tough love on business and entrepreneurship, as well as insights from Carol's community of contributors.

The Paralysis of Freedom

Written By: Carol Roth | 8 Comments

paradox of choiceAs I talk to more and more entrepreneurs about their businesses, ironically, one of the biggest areas of constraint for them is having too many choices.  That’s right; they are bound by too much freedom in their businesses.

There is always another idea, another path, or another distraction to take you down a rabbit hole. Many times, these new opportunities are more interesting and intoxicating than the repetition of the day-to-day business. However, the freedom to chart your own territory can ironically be terribly limiting.

When there is a path carved out for you, or even a choice between one or two items to make, it is easier to weigh the pros and cons and draw the proverbial line in the sand.  When faced with a whole array of options to pursue, many entrepreneurs find themselves unable to do anything at all.

There is also the worry of being limited by choosing to serve a customer, an industry, or another type of niche.  Even with the freedom to choose what to pursue and prioritize, having so many choices- as well as having to make a choice- can be completely paralyzing.

If you started a business in the pursuit of freedom, how terribly ironic it would be to be held back by your very own motivations.

Make a choice, chart the course, continue to set goals and persevere each day.

Are you limited by your freedom?

Article written by
Carol Roth is a national media personality, ‘recovering’ investment banker, investor, speaker and author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Entrepreneur Equation. She is currently an on-air contributor for the national cable television station CNBC, the pre-eminent name in business news, and the host and co-producer of The Noon Show, a current events talk show on WGN Radio, one of the top stations in the country. Carol multimedia commentary covers business and the economy, current events, politics and pop culture topics. Carol has helped her clients complete more than $2 billion in capital raising and M&A transactions. She is a Top 100 Small Business Influencer (2011 &2012) and has her own action figure. Twitter: @CarolJSRoth
  • rgrush

    Most people, even entrepreneurs, need some direction but I would certainly never complain about too much freedom. I think it should be framed as unfocused and not too much freedom. 


  • PointA_PointB

    rgrush That’s an interesting distinction. I read it more as the paradox of choice – when people have too many choices, people will often be overwhelmed not make a choice at all.

  • Daryl_Colourbox

    So true. Clarity and focus are so important and yet it’s incredibly easy to get distracted when there are endless possibilities available. 

    And this can filter down from strategic stuff right through to day to day decisions, which can have a major impact on productivity.

    Sometimes I genuinely feel myself freeze with distractions and have to shake it off to regain focus.

  • TEWyou

    Very true! I am almost at 3 full years, and about every 3-4 months I become ‘frozen/stuck’ with too much freedom, and not enough structure. I have to stop and pivot a bit, elevate once again to make things right again. For me it’s quite a cycle. But I agree that it is strategic planning issues vs. day2day decisions as Daryl said. Great article. SPOT ON!

  • Comparing myself to so-called competitors confuses me into thinking – should I do this? that? or the other thing?  Translation: too many options.  It can be paralyzing, as you’ve said Carol.  I’ve learned that I just need to be me and define who I am and what I do through my actions every day.  That narrows the options to the ones that are truly right for me.

  • PointA_PointB

    TheRelationshipInsider Excellent. Love that!

  • investin925

    This is very true! I’ve been in full time business mode for less than a year and numerous projects to extend my brand has been presented to me. Initially I felt that I got more work done after my day job versus full time business owner. It took me a few months to regroup, focus, and learned to say NO!

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