By Lisa Hawkins
By making decisions consciously, you will become clear and move into alignment with your true nature.
Decision-making can drain you and become terribly time-consuming. People often use shortcuts to lessen the energy and time in the decision-making process, but the science is still not clear on how this impacts outcomes. However, there’s very compelling empirical evidence to suggest that decision fatigue is a real phenomenon. I’ve experienced it myself, and I know other mothers have as well. Just one example: Parenting and working from home can cause fatigue. We often just want to get a number of decisions over with, so we decide by default and don’t make conscious choices.
What does decision fatigue look like?
According to the Decision Lab website, “Decision fatigue is a cognitive shortcut that causes irrational trade-offs in decision-making. One prominent example is Barack Obama’s presidential outfits. He claims to have worn the same colored suits every day to limit the number of decisions he had to make. Obama understood decision fatigue and how it can compromise the quality of important choices.”
I had someone recently get upset with me for taking “too long to decide.” What I noticed is that they (the group) expected this decision to be a priority over everything else in my life, although in the initial conversation with one individual there was no mention of a deadline for an answer. My answer was “no,” but I did say I would think about it. I did, but it wasn’t fast enough for the others in the group.
At the time, I had a health issue I was forced to deal with. The decision was still on my mind; however, I didn’t rush it because I was exhausted. I set aside the pressure of getting back to them and actually did think it through carefully when I felt well enough. In the past, I would have caved to the pressure of someone “needing to know.” Possibly, I would have regretted that decision later.
To wait or move on?
The misconnection in this conversation was not discussing a deadline and me not being very clear that my answer was “no” and likely wouldn’t change.
Making healthy decisions takes balance within yourself. If you make the decision because someone is “waiting on you” and you “don’t want to offend them,” then it’s not your true decision.
Making decisions that you are clear on and feel in alignment with your true nature is important because, the more you make them, the stronger your self-trust becomes, and you eventually will make those decisions easier. Also, in relationships if someone is taking a bit longer than anticipated to make a decision, you notice that silence is your answer. It’s an inner journey to build intimacy and authentic trust in yourself and with others.
Intimacy doesn’t happen without trust in decision-making.
With that said, I once dated a man who took an extremely long time to decide on everything, and I learned patience with his process. However, later I came to know that he did it to control me—to make me wait and feel uncomfortable. This was an opportunity for me to learn to let go of an outcome, not wait, and make my own move—but it also created mistrust in the relationship.
Here are six questions to ask yourself to help with decision fatigue:
- Do you allow others to pressure you?
- Do you feel rushed and overwhelmed due to an overloaded life?
- Do you feel confused and want to check out?
- Do you just make it quick to avoid the uncomfortable feeling of fear of making the wrong decision?
- Do you feel you have to make the decision soon to avoid inconveniencing others?
- Do you take the time needed to make a healthy decision or just go with what has less resistance?
Mental shortcuts also help ease decision fatigue.
You might use mental shortcuts to make decisions that avoid taking the mental energy and time to really sit with a choice. These mental shortcuts can be one reason why you continue to have things show up in your life that aren’t desirable: You use the same mentality to decide each time.
When making decisions, it can feel gruesome on occasion. It gets better as you build confidence and start seeing the positive results of taking the time needed to take all possibilities into consideration and have a clear answer that feels better to you, rather than taking a quick shortcut due to decision fatigue.
I’ve been working on being conscious of when I’m making decisions and really focusing on the actual importance of each one. When I’m fatigued and my brain is struggling to say the correct words, that is my sign that major decisions need to happen when I’m more rested.
I love the work of Andrew Huberman, a neuroscientist at Stanford University. On a podcast, he said that he works into the early hours of the morning and he knows not to make decisions at 3 a.m. because his brain is fatigued. By making decisions consciously, you can avoid the trap of “just getting it over with” by noticing what’s going on with your mind and body during the decision process.
If you’ve made a decision that later you regret, take a bit of time to go back and reflect on what was going on when you made the decision. Curiosity opens your mind up to a state of understanding your choices. It also creates healthier, more thriving intimate relationships.
Lisa Hawkins is a coach with 26 years of experience in personal growth and development, psychology and human behavior with an emphasis on relationships, which includes the most important one, with yourself. She helps those who want to have a more fulfilling relationship and life. When one works on one aspect of life that is holding them back, it trickles down to other areas of life. Love is the one thing we all crave at a deep level: We crave our true nature, our self-love, and to express that love to others. Lisa works with men and women to awaken the conscious part of themselves that knows how to love deeply. Find our more at ConsciouslyAwakeCounseling.com or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ConsciouslyAwakeCoun/