Decision Fatigue – It Can Happen

I’ve been a member of the Transformational Leadership Council (TLC) for the past 19 years. The TLC was established by Jack Canfield and is a group of innovative and out-of-the-box leaders from all around the world. We meet twice a year and I use this time to expand my mind, brainstorm new content for my blog and articles, and most of all, learn from the incredible teachers around me.

A few years ago at our meeting in Napa Valley, California, there was a topic that really got my attention – it was the idea of “decision fatigue.”

In decision making and social psychology, decision fatigue refers to the exhaustion that sets in when someone is presented with the need to make one decision after another, back-to-back, over and over and over again.

This can happen in several ways. For example, it can be as simple as going to a grocery store or market and being confronted with one bad choice for food after another. By the time you are checking out, your willpower becomes weak, and you buy some candy on the way out of the check stand (that’s why they place it there!)

It can also be related to a very long day of having to make many decisions. If you are making tough calls all day long, the quality of the decisions will drastically diminish by the end of the day. It might play out over a very long period of time – weeks, months, or years – where you are confronted with one challenging decision after another. After an extended period of time, you feel exhausted and drained from having to make so many decisions about so many different issues. It is easy to experience “burnout” as a result.

In running a global organization (BNI) with an incredible amount of competing demands, this last consideration really rang true for me. I often felt that the serious nature of the ongoing decisions that needed to be made could create a massive amount of long-term stress for me. One way I combated this stress was to schedule dedicated “mental health days” to reset my mindset and get in a better place. This is something I continue to do to this day; it is regularly scheduled in my calendar.

Decision fatigue is a real condition. If you have experienced it, I’d like to hear what you do to combat this feeling in your life. Leave a reply below.




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