Minimize Decision-Making So You Can Achieve Your Goals
I heard or read it somewhere that presidents have a pretty basic wardrobe (black or blue suit and a tie) because they have so many important decisions to make they don’t want to spend energy making such a small decision (in the grand scheme of things). The same has been said for Steve Jobs. He wore his iconic black turtleneck nearly every time you saw him. He had bigger fish to fry.
There’s a such thing as decision fatigue. When you’ve made so many decisions already you get fatigued. “In decision making and psychology, decision fatigue refers to the deteriorating quality of decisions made by an individual after a long session of decision making.” (Wikipedia). In other words, you are more likely to make poor decisions when you’re decision fatigued. Or you will avoid making decisions all together.
How can you achieve your goals if you can’t make good decisions or any decisions at all???
Related: How to Achieve Your Goals and Dreams
I’m in a season in my life where I’m really focused on slaying some serious goals. I want to create remarkable progress in pretty much every area: career, fitness, love, you name it. So I don’t have the mental space to make less meaningful decisions. I used to be known as someone with great style. My mom ran an eBay business where she crafted and sold jewelry so my accessory game was (is) tight. But in this season when I wake up in the morning I don’t have space inside my brain to contemplate what necklace should go with this outfit. Or what color eye shadow should I wear today?
My wardrobe and makeup is pretty basic these days.
I’ve spoken with friends who are trying to build something meaningful in their lives as well and they say the same thing. Less hair styling and more goal slaying. More focus on what’s truly important.
This is especially critical when you don’t have a ton of time.
- You are in a high-level, high demanding job.
- You have a day job and a side hustle.
- You are trying to create something that would change your future and you’re raising a family.
It’s in the seasons where your time, money, energy and focus is limited that you should strive to limit the number of decisions you are making. Not only does this minimize the risk of decision fatigue so you can make the best decisions when it’s most important, this also saves you time so you can invest it in what’s most important.
Some people say they want to start a business or write a book or lose weight but they just don’t have the time. Eliminating some decisions will create more time in your life. Have you ever gotten all dressed up to leave for work or church and then decided you weren’t feeling your outfit? That necklace would look better with those new shoes you just bought but the new shoes don’t go with the skirt? So you change everything. And then your eye shadow doesn’t match the new fit so you have to redo your makeup too! Yeah…a set up for decision fatigue and less time for more critical tasks.
Because I spend less time getting dressed in the morning I have more time to do those activities that will move me toward my goals. I’m talking a lot about getting dressed in the morning because this is where I’ve shifted my behaviors. But really this pertains to any place you expend unnecessary time and mental energy making small, insignificant decisions. Save your time and energy (and money) for the decisions that will change your life.
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This doesn’t mean that you should never leave the house looking like a dime or whatever your energy, time – sucking vice is. It means that when you are in a season where you need that critical time and decision-making mojo you don’t waste it on trivial things. It means you don’t have an excuse for why you can’t focus on your goals after work (at least to the extend you can control). You’re smart about how you make decisions and your ration out your decision making juice so that you’re not depleted when you need it most.
How do you minimize decision-making so you can achieve your goals?
- Streamline tasks (Remove steps and yourself from processes, particularly manual steps.)
- Automate processes
- Delegate (Let your family pitch in. Give them new responsibilities. Delegate more to your employees.)
- Back off (This is kind of the same as delegate, but maybe you’re hoovering over things that someone else can handle without you. Back off!!)
- Simplify (as in your wardrobe or daily routines)
- Standardize (I can spend way too much time picking pictures. One way to eliminate the decisions I have to (choose to) make around pictures is to standardize my brand. Hence why most of my pictures now have a white or light colored background).
- Develop decision criteria (Similar to standardize but have a set of criteria that you will follow for more routine decisions such as contractor must have a 90% recommend rating to be considered. That way, if you’re like me, there’s no, “should I give him a chance?” Does he have the criteria, yes or no? Okay, decision made.)
- Schedule/plan (Plan all your meals in advance. Schedule activities, date nights, etc. Do all of your less critical decision making once a week, such as wardrobe each day for the week, dinner, what movie you’ll see on movie night. That way it’s done and won’t hinder you throughout the rest of the week.)
If you know that you struggle making important decisions particularly as the day goes on, it may be time to minimize less important decisions. If they’re standing in the way of you and your goals it’s time to get them out of the way.
What decisions can you minimize or eliminate all together to free up precious mental energy and time?
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