You have held strong to your meal plan all day. You even said no to the birthday cake in the office for your coworker. But on the drive home you are so exhausted that cooking dinner sounds like WAY too much work. Drive-through it is.
Your week was darn near nutritionally perfect, but that’s no surprise as the weekend is what always derails your progress. You have sworn for this weekend to be THE ONE. You get home from work on Friday night, open the fridge, and there it is – the bottle of wine. Nobody should drink alone, so the pint of ice cream steps up as your buddy for the evening.
You wake up the next morning and before you’re out of bed, you think, “WHY DID I DO THIS TO MYSELF?”
Do you enjoy self-sabotage?
Do you love starting over on a diet?
Are you just not cut out for eating healthy and destined to live uncomfortable in your skin forever?
Did you know that you can simply be TOO TIRED to make a decision?
The more tired you are, the harder it is to make the “right” choice. It is not to say you are picking right versus wrong, but think of it as choosing the default setting instead of the manual option.
This is due to something called decision fatigue.
You know when you’re working really hard on a project at work and you go home, say you’re absolutely drained from the day, and cannot do anything else? You are experiencing some decision fatigue.
The mental work and focus it took to work on the project all day wore you down! Your body has only so much it can give to decision making in a day, and once that runs out, your ability to make rational, “good” decisions is gone.
Think of it this way, you have a bucket filled to the top with water, and every time you make a decision, some water is poured out. When the bucket is empty, it’s empty. You are not Harry Potter where you can just wave your wand to magically fill your bucket.
Every decision you make – what to wear, lunch, where to fill up with gas, how to get home, where to do date night with your spouse – they all take a little water out of your bucket.
Those are minor decisions in our day, but what about the big decisions like buying a house, accepting a job offer, or getting a dog (no brainer for me, but real tough for my husband….)? As you probably know, those decisions take more water from our bucket and mentally drain us.
None of these decisions, big or small, can be skipped in life. They all have importance. So how can we save some water in our bucket so we can make better decisions at the end of our day or week?
1. Plan Daily Decisions the Night Before
- These decisions are sometimes the most draining because we make them over and over again. These decisions that could be automated or planned in advance drain willpower that could be dedicated to more important decisions in a day. Spend 3 to 5 minutes at night picking out what to wear, what’s for breakfast, or what errands need to be run after work and spare yourself the willpower to choose the best possible dinner once you get home.
2. Do the Most Important Thing Early in Your Day
- Early in your day, your bucket is full and able to dedicate the most energy, attention, and focus to the impending decisions. So what’s the most important thing? Working out? A healthy breakfast? Or mapping out what’s for lunch? Commit to making the right decision related to your most important thing first thing in the morning when the bucket is full.
3. Avoid Distracted Decision Making
- Purposefully block time for the distractions in your day – social media, gabbing with co-workers, and responding to emails. Be specific in the amount of time you’re dedicating toward the activity and do not go over!
4. Simplify Your Choices
- Sometimes what drains the most willpower is having to make decisions on an hourly or daily basis. Your likelihood for decision-making fatigue significantly reduces when you decrease the number of things requiring a decision. Find ways to simplify your life. If something is unimportant or not a player in your life, then consider eliminating it. Refocus that energy toward the most important decisions in your life.
5. Focus on Making the Best Possible Decision
- Too many of us try to make the perfect decision every time, and at some point that desire for perfectionism is turned into procrastination on more important tasks. If it doesn’t bring you closer to your current goal, then consider “good enough.” You are always able to go back and make decisions or changes later, but you cannot go back in time to focus more on your goal.
Making the wrong choice is not a permanent choice. You might be too tired to make the right choice for dinner tonight, but you can make the choice today to implement any of these 5 tactics. Start with 1, and gradually add in the rest. Soon you will face Friday night with plenty of water in your bucket, and able to make all the important decisions to bring you to your goals.