Avoiding Decision Fatigue

Think about the last time you had to make a decision. Was it a little one (which coffee brand should I buy) or a large one (should I get a new job)? Did you ever actually make the decision? Are you still standing at the grocery store weighing the benefits of the fair trade direct coffee vs. the locally roasted company vs. the coffee you actually like the best vs. the coffee that best fits within your budget? Are you secretly hoping you’ll get fired so you won’t have to ever affirmatively decide to quit your job?

Sometimes decisions bog us down so much that we stop moving forward and we get stuck in our lives, in our moods, and in our stress. Here’s some questions to ask (and answer!) that will help make decision-making easier, especially when your mood is saying “I need to do everything at once, be the best person possible, and do it all without ever leaving my bed…”

Step One: Ask yourself, “What do I need?”

Not, am I hungry or am I sleepy, but as a human being, what do I need to… be me? Perhaps the answer is too big to easily fit into words right away. Write them down! For example, I need to feel confident (inside and out), have deep purpose in what I’m doing, feel challenged, and feel like I’m making a difference. That’s a lot of things. So, boiled down, I recognized I need to feel glamorous.

So, what do you need? Do you need to feel loved, be well-read, be well fed, feel feminine, feel masculine, feel worthy?

Step Two: Apply it!

Now, how does needing to feel glamorous help me make decisions? Check it out:

(a) Should I eat a bag of chips by myself at night while binge-watching TV shows? No, binge eating and binge watching is not glamorous. But, getting a good night sleep is!

(b) Should I volunteer on Saturday when I signed up for it (on a day when I was in a good mood) even through right now I’m cranky and depressed and want to hide in bed all day? Yes, I should! Why? Because philanthropy is glamorous (just look at Audrey Hepburn’s second career if you had any doubts!). Because I will feel more glamorous and satisfied at the end of the day, my decision was made for me.

(c) Should I change my career? Well, if I felt glamorous in my job, but had a couple bad days, then maybe the answer should have been no. But, if I’ve continuously not felt glamorous or am exhibiting behaviors that make me feel decidedly un-glamorous (like coming in late or hungover or feeling bored and useless or constantly like jumping out of a window), then yes, I should change my career, or at least my current position.

No, it’s not foolproof, but starting with “at my essence, what do I need” will help you move forward when your mood would otherwise prevent it.