Decision fatigue is something I have spent a lot of time considering over the years. Decisions are part of our everyday, and in order to live a life we love, you must make decisions. They aren’t always easy. In fact, I would say that the decisions we have to make in order to live a life we love are really hard. Why is that? Well, you may be going against the grain and off the beaten path. Or, it might be that you have been passively making decisions and now you need to actively do so. Let’s explore that today.
What is Decision Fatigue?
Have you heard of decision fatigue before? There was a time several years ago where I heard the term all over the place, but not as much in recent years. So what is it? Decision fatigue is the result of being overwhelmed with the decisions you have to make in your life every day. What happens next? The decisions that you do make start to go downhill – you aren’t able to make the *right* decisions for yourself because you are so overwhelmed.
Have you felt that way before? I know that I have – in fact I have gone through several seasons with this issue at hand. It is not only big decisions either. In fact, I believe it is the little decisions daily that put us over the edge.
Did you know that adults make an average of 35,000 decisions each day? That is a lot of decision making. Honestly, can you even think of that many things you have to think about each day? Just reading 35,000 made my heart start to beat a bit faster!
It isn’t the big decisions that set us over the edge, it is the little ones. The decisions like “what should I make for dinner?” “Is this math curriculum really the best option?” “Should I do a load of laundry every day or three times per week?”
How does this relate to living a life you love?
When you consider living a life you love, you start to ask yourself questions. And these questions become decisions that you have to make. It is a challenge to make a lot of changes quickly. So, you may set out to put some of the decisions off. And then, all of a sudden, all of the decisions come for you at once. Why? Because they aren’t those big, giant, research type decisions.
The big decisions, while challenging in their own right, are not what I am talking about today. Instead, I am talking about the little decisions that we make every day. Big decisions will have their place, just not at the moment!
I believe the little decisions that you make every day are what really propel the life you want to live and a life you love. But, those decisions, especially if they are a bit different than the norm, are challenging to make constantly. You have to continuously think about the decisions that you want to make. If you don’t, it is very easy to become complacent. Instead of actively making the decisions and choices you want to make for your family, you begin to passively make choices.
Active vs. Passive Decisions
What is the difference between active and passive decisions? An active decision is one that you are make with consideration to the decision, a decision you are engaged with. For instance, if you decide that you are going to have a screen free day on Sunday’s, you are actively making that choice. A passive decision is something that you decide without any thought involved. The path of least resistance if you will. Think about all the time that you just lost scrolling through instagram this morning? That is still a decision, but it isn’t an active one.
Both of these types of decisions can cause decision fatigue. I would argue that when you are overwhelmed with active decision making (mom, what is for dinner? can I have a snack? do I really need to clean my room?), you default to passive decision making (scrolling through instagram and hiding in the bathroom with chocolate).
It is better to actively make decisions about your life and your time than to make passive decisions. But, how do you combat the decision fatigue that comes with all the active decision making?
How do you combat Decision Fatigue?
Now that we know what decision fatigue is, we need to figure out how to combat it. I’m afraid it isn’t a super easy answer. But, instead, a process. There are two main parts to this process. First, systems and strategies. Systems and strategies help you to move through your day without having to make extra decisions.
For example, if you are great at meal planning, that is a system you have in place which combats the constant decision of dinner. Whereas, if there is no system in place, every night at 4:30pm you are surprised that there is a meal to make. I am firmly in the second camp during some seasons. It takes work to get a system to consistently work for you. And when there is too much resistance (you have to actively commit to making the meal plan and prepping ahead of time), it can be easy to let it go because it feels like too much. However, once you have a system that works really well for you, it becomes a habit, and the resistance is gone.
The second part is a sort of purpose statement for your family. The family purpose statement allows you to easily make yes and no decisions quickly and without much stress. For example, if your family purpose statement prioritizes a Sabbath, it is easy for you to say no to sports on Sundays. If your family purpose statement includes life-long learning, you will actively seek out learning opportunities every day.
The Bottom Line
Combatting decision fatigue is a bit part of living a life you love. Why? Because if you are constantly overwhelmed, you won’t feel like you are living a life you love. Instead, you are overwhelmed and overburdened, and that is never a fun place to be.
As we continue to move through the month, I will be sharing systems and strategies in order to streamline my own life and decisions. This isn’t meant to be prescriptive, but rather a way for you to set your own systems and strategies in place in order to combat the decision fatigue in your own life.