In this post, we’ll explore the concept of decision fatigue, who it impacts (hint: EVERYONE!), and how it ends up holding you back from achieving your goals.
We’ll also share some tips from Mark Zuckerburg and President Obama that will help you can extend your decision making abilities.
There are three basic building blocks that help explain decision fatigue:
Almost everything we do requires a decision (including what to wear in the morning, what to eat for lunch, what to buy, who to spend time with, etc) -
If these make sense, even if only at a high level, then you already know the goal:
Be smart with your decision points each day!
We’ve all experienced the clarity that comes from making decisions when there are enough points available.
We’ve also each experienced the regret of making bad decisions when we didn’t have enough points, yet were faced with yet another decision in front of us.
The easier of the two scenarios is to think about a time when you made a decision you later regretted. It happened the last time you skipped the gym because you had an exhausting day at work. It also happened when you ended up eating four slices of pizza at 1am even though you were on such a good streak with your diet.
Every single one of us is impacted by decision fatigue, including judges who decided whether people received parole requests. As the day progressed and more decisions were made, there were very different outcomes reached which seem to correlate with how fresh or fatigued their minds were.
Why do we end up making subpar decisions when our brains are fatigued?
While many factors are at play, one of the main reasons is because all of your "decision points" were used up already, yet you had to make more decisions. When this happens, you are much more likely to cave into temptation or choose what is easiest but not necessarily what is the best option.
If this is decision fatigue in action, then the next question should be, ”how do I get more decision points in a day”?
We researched this thoroughly, and while it may be difficult to add more points each day, there is a workaround that is just as effective!
You can train yourself to make some decisions without spending any points (or barely spending any). This effectively means you get to extend your decision making abilities!
The way you do this is through consciously building the habits you want in your life.
Surely you know someone who gets up early and gets to the gym every day. At the beginning (when they were building this habit), you can be assured that they spent a lot of decision points each morning deciding whether to get up and go or to snooze and sleep in more. However, over time, as they got up and went consistently, they spent less and less points on each decision. Eventually, it will get to the point where they don’t even think about it anymore. When the alarm goes off, they just spring out of bed and head to the gym!
You might be thinking this isn’t realistic, and only crazy people go the gym every single day. That might be true, but the point is that once you consciously build a habit, the act of doing it each day doesn’t take away from your available pool of decision points anymore! Maybe the gym example isn’t for you, but instead it could be flossing, journaling, stretching, cleaning up, or anything else you know you should be doing but aren’t yet.
Mark Zuckerberg does this through his choice (or rather lack of choice) on clothes. Mark literally has a closet full of the same grey t-shirts so that he doesn't really need to make a choice.
President Obama responds to memos by either checking off a box with either "agree", "disagree", or "let's discuss" to impose simplicity on his replies.
By not spending any decision points on what they are going to wear or how to respond, they get to save those decision points for more complex things they will face throughout the day.
What’s the takeaway?
Build habits consciously. Work on these consistently until they stick. Craft these habits into routines.
So you can allow these habits and routines to free up your decision points so you confidently take on the choices you are faced with each day
This is why Tribe of Five exists!
We help people who are ready to make a change in their lives.
Through 30 day challenges, you get to test drive a new habit you've been wanting to work on. And because you'll have the support of four other accountability buddies who are working on the exact same goal, you'll have the best chance to succeed.
What are you waiting for? Find a 30 day challenge now!