It’s the start of a new year and a time where pressure needlessly mounts to ponder pivotal decisions people presume might just shape the next 12 months.
More on that later.
Firstly, that opening line will forever remind me of an early 90’s advert for the hot chocolate brand, Options. “Aaaah. Decisions, decisions,” breathed a soft-sounding voiceover when alluding to the numerous “options” the consumer had upon considering a low-calorie liquid treat.
I’ve since investigated whether Options are indeed still a thing. They are. And they’ve developed their range to give you more choice than ever; Belgian Chocolate, Belgian Chocolate Honeycomb, Indulgence Belgian Chocolate, Belgian Chocolate Salted Caramel, Belgian Chocolate Mint, Belgian Chocolate Orange, Belgian Chocolate Butterscotch and, just to even out the playing field a bit, plain old White Chocolate.
Still with me? Perhaps not. And why? Because you probably tuned out around “Indulgence Belgian Chocolate”. While we might be conditioned into thinking greater choice leads to greater opportunity, we’re actually subconsciously suffering from decision fatigue. An analysis paralysis. An inability to make the right decision (or any decision at all, for that matter) because we’re bogged down by the numerous decisions now presented to us each and every day.
Take television, for example. How often have you scrolled through page upon page of an electronic TV guide without coming to a decision on what to watch? And Netflix. A whole bunch of films, documentaries and Originals you can’t narrow down to one. “Oh, I don’t know. You decide.” “No. You decide.” “No. You…”. And so on.
You’ve left it too long to think about food, so you plump for a pizza. You want some new clobber, but you’re presented with so many variations of the same top that you spend all day wandering around the shops and leave empty handed. You want the perfect playlist, but you can’t decide which artist or song to choose from next.
Decision fatigue pioneer (yes, one does exist) John Tierney, said, “No matter how rational and high-minded you try to be, you can’t make decision after decision without paying a biological price.”
And therein lies the message within this quarter’s blog. Our cognitive resources are challenged on a daily basis because we’re regularly tackling physical and mental challenges in every aspect of our lives. At home, at work, at a social event when narrowing down the choices on a restaurant menu and the copious craft ales on offer in that pub.
In order to maximise productivity in life, you need to simplify it. Cut down on d
A few months ago I referenced how winning the morning could help you win the day. The same applies here. We’re more alert during earlier hours with a clear head not yet weighed down by the day’s challenges ahead. Make your key decisions in the morning and stick to them.
Ricky Gervais is, in my opinion, one of the funniest men on the planet. Simon Cowell, meanwhile, is one of the most successful. I can only ever recall either man wearing one of two outfits: a black or white V-neck with jeans or a suit. A lack of fashion sense, some might say. Or two men who know exactly what they want and don’t waste time deciding what to wear each morning.
It’s suggested that ghrelin – commonly referred to as the “hunger hormone” as it stimulates appetite – can affect decision-making. If you’re hungry, you’re more inclined to make a snap decision because you’re busy thinking about your stomach rather than the matter at hand. Eat first. Decide later.
Think of all this as a result of preparing for that final rep in one of my sessions. Physically, the fatigue you experience in producing that final push mirrors your mental overload in producing one more decision.
If you planned to make a resolution for 2018, make it your goal to banish decision fatigue. Right, I’m off for a hot chocolate – only mine consists of 100 per cent dark chocolate and almond milk. A great choice.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!