“Geez, I am exhausted,” I think to myself every day when I get home from the office. I’m sure I’m not alone.
One of the reasons I suspect that I am so tired at the end of the day is not because I’ve been talking to clients and brainstorming custom designed Family Succession Plans for them. No, I think the real reason I am so tired by the time I get home is because of the endless litany of micro decisions that I have had to make all day long for myself.
I am reading an interesting book by Gretchin Ruben called “Better Than Before: What I Learned About Making and Breaking Habits” which has been revelatory for me.
Habits in our lives are important because habits take the decision making out of the equation. The more decisions that we make throughout the day, eventually we suffer from “Decision Fatigue.” Think about it.
We face hundreds, if not thousands, of seemingly small, innocuous decisions every day.
Which pair of earrings look better with this outfit?
Do I have time to empty the dishwasher now or should I postpone the chore until later this evening?
Should I eat cereal or toast for breakfast?
Should I pack my lunch for work or go out to lunch today?
What are we eating for dinner tonight?
And these are just a handful of questions I have asked myself within an hour of getting out of bed!
The litany of questions I ask myself every day when I stop to think about it is mindboggling. I’m tired right now just thinking about them.
These endless micro decisions you make every single day make you tired. And when you are fatigued, you don’t always make the best choices in your life.
For example, I know I should plan a healthy meal for my family for dinner, but I no longer have the energy to decide what to cook so, what the hell, we’ll order pizza tonight instead.
I found Tim Ferris’ idea in one of his books fascinating that he eats the same thing for breakfast every day because it removes that seemingly small decision from his life so he has more mental energy to think about more important issues such as the subject of his next book.
Decisions and habits are flip sides of the same coin.
Habits are merely decisions that we’ve already made once and do not need to decide again.
In the Tim Ferris example, he decided ONCE what he would eat every morning for breakfast. Because he eats the same meal every morning, breakfast has become a habit that he no longer needs to spend precious mental energy thinking about.
You’ve likely unconsciously made the same types of habit decisions in your life.
You do not decide every morning if you are going to brush your teeth and apply deodorant before you leave the house. You just do it.
You do not decide every evening if you are going to take off your work clothes before getting into bed. You just do it.
You previously made a decision that ‘this is how I do things’ so you just do it. Decision made once, decision now removed from your life.
I have been told that I am particularly good at helping clients make decisions about the design of their estate plans for their loved ones. By talking to clients about their priorities, values and their family dynamics, I help them narrow down their succession planning decisions so they can mentally make the best choices for their family.
So let me ask you. What decision can you make today that you will no longer ever have to think about again?
If you and I commit to making just one tiny decision today that removes that decision once and for all from our lives, and we do this every single day, we will have removed 365 daily decisions from our lives by the end of the year.
And that’s a lot of brain bandwidth we will have regained in a year, my friends, freeing our brains up to make more important life-changing decisions such as “what is the best Family Succession Plan I can craft and deploy for my loved ones today?”
Kristen “Recovering From Decision Fatigue” Marks
P.S. Next week, I will reveal another ailment that I suffer from that is Decision Fatigue’s evil twin sister.