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  • Writer's picturebryan hendley

Decision Fatigue

Whoah, Nelly!

I'm back for some long overdue writing and excited to begin sharing what I'm learning once more.

Today's writing is on the concept of decision fatigue, made most famous, perhaps, by Steve Jobs and his decision to wear the same outfit everyday. The idea is that we don't realize the impact that all of these "micro decisions" have on us, so by eliminating the decisions we make regarding our outfits, or breakfast choices, or coffee creamer flavoring, we'll save our limited decision making power for the more important things.

Jobs decided that he would wear a black turtleneck and jeans everyday, thus eliminating that decision from his life and focusing his energy on the things that were more impactful.

It's an interesting concept.

During my work as a small business and life coach, particularly during my work on myself, I've waged a war (albeit a very, very small one that nobody else knows about) against mainstream business advice and habits that may not be particularly useful for the "ordinary" joes like myself and those that I work with.

It's easy to fall into the trap of trying all of the new things that we read or hear from the "experts". If Simon Sinek says to "start with why", then I must find my why and let that be my driving force. If business guru X says that we should only do things that we can "scale", then we should turn down opportunities that we can't "scale", even if we aren't really sure what that means. If Steve Jobs wears the same thing everyday, we should wear the same thing everyday, because, you know, he's Steve Jobs.

None of these things are inherently bad or wrong. Nor am I arguing that I am smarter or know more than the experts. But I do know more about myself than the experts, and I believe that we have to make sure that the decisions we are making and the paths we are following are in alignment with who we are, how we are keeping score, and where we want to go. And those things may or may not line up with the way the experts have decided to live their lives and run their businesses. Don't fall into the trap of believing that you aren't legitimate because you aren't behaving just like the experts.

So, what about decision fatigue?

First of all, there is some research that suggests that decision fatigue is real.

Shockingly, there is also some research that suggests that decision fatigue is not as powerful as some people think.

The power of choice is alive and well.

You and I get to choose what we would like to believe about decision fatigue.

Carol Dweck, author of the book, Mindset, focusing on the power of a growth mindset, found that the most powerful impact of decision fatigue came when people believed that decision fatigue had a powerful impact. If people buy into the concept that they have a limited amount of willpower, then they are more likely to actually have a limited amount of willpower. Thus, the concept of streamlining decisions by wearing the same black turtleneck everyday, eating 8 oz. or yogurt with chia seeds everyday, and ordering the same coffee everyday, might seem like a key to success.

I choose to believe that we can get tired, or overworked, or have too much on our mind, to the point that it impacts our ability to make decisions as soundly or as clearly as we might if these things weren't going on.

However, I also choose to believe that making decisions in advance can be very powerful, and can indeed contribute to our greatness/success/growth/development.

I do not believe that having the same 8 oz. of yogurt with chia seeds everyday will make me great.

Rather than protecting your decision making power by chasing some incremental (maybe negligible) advantage by filling your closet with black turtlenecks because, Steve Jobs, I would like to propose something much more meaningful.

We can make declarations surrounding the type of people we want to be, how we want to impact, and what's most important to us, then allowing those decisions to guide us. Thus, when things come up, and decisions call out, begging for us to make them, we can skip that decision, because we already know the answer. We know it's a yes, or we know it's a no, because it does or does not align with who we are or who we are becoming.

We can get tired, overwhelmed, and stressed to the point of it negatively impacting our decisions. Personally, while I'd like to limit those mistakes, I can live with choosing the milkshake late at night even though maybe it isn't the best decision, because I'm a little tired or feeling a little sorry for myself.

What I cannot live with, is chasing the temptation, making the investment, going into business with the wrong person, or speaking to my children in a way that doesn't align with the type of father I want to be, because I am fatigued for one reason or the other. And the way I've chosen to combat these things, is to make the decisions now, so when the inevitable fatigue, overwhelm, or stress pops up, I don't have to decide.

It's already been done.

I'm pulling for you,



I work with small business owners and entrepreneurs to help them create a business and a life that can thrive together. If you'd like to learn more, or if you'd like to share my information with someone that might benefit, you can do so here:

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