What to Watch Out for When Your Life Becomes an All-You-Can-Eat Buffet

When I was a teenager, I enjoyed going to all-you-can-eat buffets. Regularly, I would go with friends and family and fill my stomach until there was no more room.

One time, after a day of intense sports, my friends, my brothers, and I invaded a small all-you-can-eat buffet. The host was very welcoming—at least until we started gorging all his food. He kept bringing out food platters and we kept emptying them. Like a horde of starving wolves, we attacked the platters before he had a chance to put them down. He might have as well brought them directly to our table.

When we were done and paid our $5, the look on his face said it all: no profits today.

In hindsight, we may have gone a little too far… It did say “all you can eat”, though.

For many of us, life is like an all-you-can-eat buffet: we’re surrounded by abundance and have access to a plethora of opportunities. Although, in general, this is a good thing, having access to a buffet of opportunities isn’t without its challenges.

1. Excess

When you have many opportunities, there’s a risk you fall into excess: you try to eat of everything and end up taking on more than you can handle. And if you’re driven by greed—an insatiable desire for more—it’s almost a sure thing.

As a result of falling into excess, you burn out. There’s a limited amount of space on your plate, and when you fill it up too much, you inevitably drop things. Plus, you try to eat all of it, and before you know it, you’re bloated, as in stressed out of your mind; your calendar is too “stuffed”.

You don’t have to seize every opportunity simply because it’s there, just as you don’t have to eat everything that’s offered in the buffet simply because it’s there. Your time and other resources are limited. Thus, you must choose the right opportunities for you and focus your efforts on them.

2. Paralysis

At the other end of the spectrum, too many opportunities can paralyze you. So many options are appealing and you don’t know which to choose. You spent your time trying to figure out what you should choose: should you choose project A? Or project B? Or project C?… But you never make a decision.

When you’re paralyzed by indecision, you waste time and end up “eating” nothing. It’s one thing to starve because you don’t have access to food. It’s another thing to starve in an all-you-can-eat buffet because you don’t know what to choose.

Sooner or later, you must make a decision, knowing that there is no perfect option and that when you’re done with an opportunity, you can always pursue another.

3. Distractions

Another challenge with having many options is that, in the mix, you’re presented with a lot of distractions, and when you put too many distractions on your plate, you eat a lot of things that have no nutritional value. You’re full but not fulfilled.

Not every option is good for you. In fact, many will sidetrack you. In the buffet of life, you must learn to make the difference between the vegetables (high-value opportunities) and the potato chips (low-value opportunities).

Put on your plate things that are worthy of your time and efforts.

Choose opportunities that align with your vision (the direction in which you’re taking your life) and your values (the foundation on which you’re building your life).

Being in a buffet—in an abundant place—doesn’t mean you have to eat everything. Having access to many opportunities doesn’t mean you have to take all of them. Choose wisely.