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  • Writer's pictureMagda

Decision fatigue and how to deal with it

Updated: Oct 23, 2021


I am a huge fan of Ted Talks and as you probably know they vary so much from one subject to the next but never really disappoint. During one of my lengthy sessions jumping from one finished talk to the next, I bumped into one entitled "The 100 % rule that will change your life" by Benjamin Hardy. For the first 10 minutes of the talk, I was convinced he wasn't talking about anything that I didn't already know but as I was about to press the 'next' button I got very engaged in what he was saying at that very moment: "If you haven't made a decision about something, that means that you're not actually 100% committed to it" he then quoted a Harvard professor Clayton M. Christensen who  said: "It's easier to hold your principles 100 percent of the time than it is to hold them 98 percent of the time."

From then on Ben went on to say that if you're only 98 percent committed to something, you aren't truly there, you haven't actually made a decision. And if you have not made a decision about something it means that you're basically not sure what you're going to do. It's that simple. This applies to small and big things in our lives. Business and personal. You may look at this and say, "yeah it sounds about right" but when you dig deeper, you'll understand a lot of us are stuck on the 98% mark not realising that being at the 100% could improve our day to day lives and our performance too.


If as a person you decide to live a healthier life, let's say you want to switch to a refined sugar-free life. If you're only 98% committed to this and put yourself in a situation where your favourite dessert being served, then you would most likely play a tug of war in your mind, deciding whether or not to have it. That war in your mind is called 'Decision Fatigue' which generally speaking means that you haven't yet made a choice. Your mind is battling between one and the other, and in most cases, because you're not sure what you're going to do, you're undecided, the situation you're so desperately trying to avoid but have not made a decision about, usually wins. If you commit to a decision 100%, there would be no tug of war in your mind. That's it. You won. If you make a decision and commit to it 100%, you will not play the little battles in your mind. Especially not long term. I am not sure if you're aware of this but experts say that average person, or let's say, the average mind, thinks about 50,000 thoughts per day (some say that it's between 60,000-80,000!). That's about 2100 thoughts per hour, 35 thoughts per minute. If you have a decision to make, or some form of mild addiction or fear to overcome that truly requires your commitment (and decision-making skills), then just imagine how many of your daily thoughts must be occupied but this one thing alone. Now imagine, if you made a decision that you committed to 100%. Boom! A whole new door opens. You made a decision and you also made a decision that you won't go back on it. No more thinking about it. Imagine how much space your mind has just freed up (probably for something else but hey, doesn't matter, the space in your mind was freed!) You decided not to have refined sugar and end up at a party that serves your favourite dessert? No, thank you. I don't eat refined sugar. You decided that you don't want to drink alcohol and someone offers you a drink? No, thank you. I don't drink. Sounds too easy? Maybe. But have you tried it? Really, really tried it?

Only after listening to this Ted Talk did I realise that I've been suffering from decision fatigue in so many areas of my life, unknowingly! Just at the beginning of this year, I said to myself "I am going to stop eating crisps for January". It was super hard to deny myself the opportunity to have some every time someone offered them to me at the office, or not to buy a packet (or 3) for the movie night but I kept on saying to myself it's only for 30 days. Three weeks in, realising that eating crisps had no benefit on my life or my body whatsoever, I made a decision not to have them at all and for some reason, it's been super easy ever since. I don't eat crisps and that's it. Period. I am confident about it and 100% committed to this decision. I felt like Micheal Jordan when he said "Once I made a decision, I never thought about it again" So you might wonder, how to avoid decision fatigue and how to effectively use the 100% rule. Below you can read a few of my suggestions:

1. Not everything requires your 100%.

It's very important to note that not everything in your life will always require your 100% so it's important to identify what does. Listen to your gut and you will know what does. Are you learning a new skill or improving the one you have? Do you want to write a book? Do you want to start a new business? Do you want to spend more time with your family? Learn a new language? Meditate? Do yoga? DECIDE what requires your 100%. That is it. Make a decision and make it now. With my first attempt at writing a book, I genuinely struggled, when I got back from work, I used to think should I write or go out, should I write or watch the TV, should I write or maybe I am just bad at this writing thing altogether. Decision fatigue was tiring my mind so much it was exhausting. Then one day I committed 100%, I said it out loud and wrote it out. I am writing Easy Way to Go Vegan I said. My friends are witnesses to that, when I decided to write it, that was it. I didn't have the decision fatigue that could tire my mind. When friends asked me to go out on the day that I decided to write, there was no changing my mind. I avoided the decision fatigue by committing to my original decision. Even my own mind didn't try to change itself! It just did the work! 2.Your effort matters

It's hard enough to make a decision, sticking to it may be even harder so your effort in the matter is very important. Write the pros and cons of any important decision that you're making and keep them handy. Then, rather than bailing on your commitment at first possible chance, remind yourself that you made this decision based on something that mattered to you. I also believe that writing it down in your phone or notepad is a fantastic option too. It will help you remember why you made this decision. "I decided ......... because I know it ........". I would suggest entering a positive statement at the end so that it does not seem as if you're denying yourself something. My one for the crisps scenario went as follows: "I decided not to eat crisps because I know it's better for my health, my body and my mind." (I also have a sub-line that say "remember that the last time you said one won't hurt you ended up eating the entire packet, so NO, ONE WILL HURT") I only looked at it a couple of times when I wanted them in the first couple of weeks but since then, it just sits in my phone notes! 3. Repetition is a mother of skill

This is something my mentor kept on repeating when I was completing my life coaching certification and it applies to every single area of our lives. You want to be good at something, it does not just magically happen, you've got to do it over and over again until it becomes natural until it becomes a habit until it becomes second nature. 4. Make decisions that are best for you.

Too often in our lives with thinking about what others will think about the decisions we're making, even if they have nothing to do with them. Don't be that person. Think about yourself and what you want from your life and as long as you're coming from a genuine place of love for yourself and others you will be fine. I always think about a quote by Bernard Baruch "Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind, don't matter and those who matter, don't mind" With a hand on my heart, I can tell you that some of my friends laughed at me when I said I am writing a book. "You? A book?" (followed by laughter) If I heard it 8 years ago, it would hit me so hard, I would give up on writing right there and then. Now, all I need to ask myself is how do I feel with the decision I made and how good it is for me. In summary, I wanted to say that making some decisions may not be easy every time but I also truly believe that the more decisions you make the better you will get at it. Experience, right? I want to wrap it up with one final thought, if you have a decision to make that you've been delaying because of fear or because you worry you will lack something in your life, make it, make that decision now and stick to it. Believe in yourself and in what your intuition is guiding you to do. Trust yourself more, deep down you know what's right and what is best for you. You are love, with love and light, Mags x


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