We live in the free market. That means an abundance of choice.
It also means we often choose the wrong thing: We choose drinking and sweets over water and vegetables, playing on our phones or going out over getting a good nights sleep, staying quiet over expressing our emotions. Especially on Friday nights, we choose “comfort foods” and Netflix.
We KNOW these decisions are bad ones—I’ve never heard anyone brag about his or her success on the Burgers and beer Diet—but we make them anyway. And it’s not because we hate ourselves; we’re just tired of making decisions and we choose what we know and what feels good in the moment.
Our parents called this “willpower”: the ability to make tough decisions and stick to them. But
as Dan Ariely of Duke University writes in “Understanding Ego Depletion,“ we have limited
reserves of willpower. We use up those reserves regularly. On Monday morning we have
plenty, so we get up early, go for a walk and pack a healthy lunch. By Friday, we’re calling
Decision fatigue is a new idea, but it’s very real. We make more decisions than our ancestors ever did: They got up at six because the cows were hungry. They ate oatmeal for breakfast because there weren’t any eggs. They bought one gift for Christmas because everyone did. And they were probably happier for it.
The people under the most pressure in the business world usually take steps to limit the number of decisions they have to make each day. Steve Jobs wore the same outfit and ate the same breakfast every day. If he’d dipped into the well of willpower when choosing his cereal, that would leave less in the pool for later when the BIG decisions came up.
How do we avoid burning out our willpower? Habits.
Waking up at the same time every day.
Eating the same breakfast every day.
Going to the gym at the same time every day.
Letting someone else choose our workouts.
Lately, I have been busier than ever with having a full time gym to run and a family to enjoy. Right now, I try to shift as many decisions off my plate as possible. I don’t cook as much as I used to and I order food from Nutrition Kitchen to save me time and energy for the week.
And when I make a decision, I don’t often second-guess it, because that’s exhausting. It really IS better to make fast decisions and correct your errors later than to hem and haw. I can’t tell you how much sleep I’ve lost dwelling on a decision that in the end didn’t make much of a difference either way. Living with a decision usually isn’t hard; making the decision is hard.
If you’re starting to exercise more or fixing your diet after a rough couple of weeks, do everything you can to minimize the decisions you have to make. Make things easier on yourself because adding more to your plate isn’t the answer, but staying focused and simplifying everything you do is.
Do a six-week challenge and follow directions. Show up to a CrossFit class. Make your meals on Sunday or order meal prep from a reputable company. Follow someone else’s plan for you until the habits are entrenched and you can sustain those healthy habits. Protect your ego and save your willpower for dealing with your boss or if you are like me your little children.
Your workouts don’t have to be perfect every day. You don’t have to invent a new diet or study textbooks. You can avoid paralysis by analysis. We have plenty of Coaches here who can help you simplify your tasks and make quick decisions.
Let us help you get started. Book a Chat here!
Inspiration provided by Chris Cooper at Catalystgym.com.