Decisions Aren’t Always Easy

I’ve been a member of the Transformational Leadership Council for the last 12 years.  It is a group of innovative and out-of-the-box leaders that meet twice a year from all around the world, and last week we met in Napa Valley, California.  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.

One of the topics that really got my attention 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 again.  This can play out in several ways–for example, it can be as simple as going to a grocery store 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 that candy on the way out of the check stand (that’s why they have it there!)

Photo courtesy of stockimages at

Photo courtesy of stockimages at

 It can also be related to a very long day of making many decisions. If you’re making tough calls all day long, the quality of the decisions will drastically diminish by days end.  Or 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.  Over an extended period of time, you feel exhausted and drained from having to make so many decisions about so many different issues that it is easy to experience “burnout” as a result.

In running a global organization 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.  

I spoke about this several years ago in my blog here. 

Decision fatigue is a real condition.  What, if anything, do you do to combat this feeling in your life?

6 thoughts on “Decisions Aren’t Always Easy

  1. Timely article! I recently lost my father and have been helping my mother make decisions that she seems unable to do at the moment.
    I kept hearing about caring for the care giver but time didn’t seem to be on my side ….
    Until a confrontation with an alcoholic brother did me in (temporarily) So this weekend I just took the whole weekend to “recharge”.
    So for those who think they don’t have the “time”, TAKE IT!
    Thanks Ivan!

    A :~)

  2. Never a better time to read this than now My business is growing slowly, but there is a question every twenty minutes and need to make a quick decision in order to provide the best customer service that i can. Im beginning to wonder what is going to happen r what i need when the business grows.

    Thank you for sharing this

  3. My answer is volunteering. The older i get the more important it is to me. To see that there is also another world than the business world and – you get so much back. Decision fatigue no more such a problem because your attitude becomes more positive. Maybe that’s also the reason because there is a BNI Foundation? Volunteering – my way of “recharging”.

  4. I agree with Arianne. You MUST make time to rest mentally as well as physically. If you think you don’t have time, consider what will happen to those who rely on you if failing to recharge results in a serious health condition. For many of us that includes a negative impact on not only our family but employees, coworkers, community boards, neighbors, etc… Don’t underestimate the importance of your own well-being to everyone else! Taking a personal time out will also improve your focus, help you think clearly, and rejuvenate your enthusiasm.

  5. Some decisions need to be made in the short term and some are long term. Some are critical and some just about preferences. Some for things that must be attended to and other for choices about things one looks forward to such as where to take a vacation or even a smaller uplifting choice like which movie to see. Being able to take a break from the critical, short term decisions by thinking about the more pleasurable options brings a nice balance.

  6. Decision fatigue is a real condition. What, if anything, do you do to combat this feeling in your life?
    The Article is talking of a real condition… During these tough moments there is a desire to back out or give up… This has happened in own Life & in those close to me. Introspecting & observing raises one very significant point:- If something us important, then why back out or give up…
    Introspect, build Priorities, Refresh, Recharge and pick uo the thread of work from where it’s left….
    The following have helped me immensely:
    1)self evaluation on the Goals & the path taken
    2) Upa Yoga practices which are very effective & yet do not call for as much discipline as Yoga.
    3) staying in a state of Gratitude & meditations
    4) sitting in discussion with a Mentor & listening ….
    5) as Ms. Anita mentioned, Volunteering reallt recharges….
    Last and its not a point, it’s The point:)
    Being in the Prescence of a Dynamic Guru…
    Thank you Ivan and each one who has replied…. I can relate to each experience…
    Holding hands across the Globe, let’s GROW! (GROW:Goals, Reality check, evaluate Options & strengthen Will to Achieve set Goals & pave your Way forward ) …:)
    Happy times ahead!
    The Guide,
    Pravarra – making a Positive Difference to People & Businesses

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