How Your DECISION Making Skills are holding you back and what you can do to gain control today

Ever been in San Diego for a mini-vacation with your buddies - chilling at night with a good glass of wine and watching Planet Earth? 

No?

What! 

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Anywho back to where I was with the story...

I was watching Planet Earth ( I mean I do love animals but this was one of those things where I had to sit through and watch this because everyone else in the room wanted to .. and you know they are smart people so you succumb under pressure .. things you do for friends..sighs.) and we watched this particular episode where they filmed Iguanas (A type of lizard) and snakes. Cool, right? It gets better!


This episode filmed Iguanas running for its life while a swarm of snakes follow it!! So Fricknn exciting!! It was like watching a thriller hollywood movie - only, this was real life and the Iguana was like the Tom Cruise from Mission Impossible - only Tom Cruise is hotter. Now I wish they had mission impossible music playing in the background in the episode too. oooh, maybe I should given the Planet Earth people that feedback... hmmmm... noting this down!)


I digress.. sorry! Back to the story!

The story is

brings the popcorn-

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THE IGUANA COMES INTO THIS WORLD

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d’awww iSN’T THAT ADORABLE?

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And then as soon as it is born, the Iguana has someone waiting for them...

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the battle starts - Can the Iguana escape or does the snake finally get some food?

Don't be judging - Bitches gotta eat

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And the Iguana survives

Well, the story doesn't always end like that but I wanted to keep the intro pretty positive.. you know? If you want to watch this in real-life video.. I mean my drawings are better but still here you go.

So basically this Iguana hatches and has no choice but to run and survive. There is no choice- he/she doesn't think about whether he/she wants to live or not. 

You can see Iguanas hatching - waiting still in the hopes of not getting detected and then realizing that won't help - so Running.  Its easy. If you run faster, you live. If you don't , you die.

Its kind of how our ancestors worked as well- We decided things on the spot. See Lion, Run.  See Deer, Eat. See Monkeys, Play. See significant other, S....................... sleep (what did you think I was going to say?) 

Bottom line. Things were simple. 

Decisions are like that as well. The less you make, the easier it is for you.

We make 35,000 decisions every day!! I know right? that is fucking insane. thirty-five thousand!!

So common sense wise 

It all starts when you wake up and then decide whether to snooze or not....... Then you pick up your phone and while you are scrolling - you decide first, which app to open, then which pictures or articles you want to pay attention to, and then you decide whether today you shower or not.... (No Susan, no one wants to take a shower daily... so judgmental .. Geeez)

*rolls eyes*

The thing is we are consistently putting ourselves in a place where we make so many decisions …starting from the time we wake up, so when it comes time to make the important ones - our brains ARE DRAINED.

Point being - we make a lot of decisions - and each time we make a decision that is good for us but is a difficult decision, we use our willpower. 

Rather than snoozing 15 times and getting late for work, only snoozing twice will use willpower

Rather than getting the double double (2 creams and 2 sugars - its a Canadian term bitches .. get with the program) , you choosing a black coffee will use willpower.

Rather than an egg mcmuffin for breakfast, choosing a smoothie bowl requires willpower.

Rather than deciding to stab your co-worker Becky to death, you choose to smile and say good morning... WILLPOWER. 

You get where I am going with this.. willpower is constantly being used and just like anything else in life - there is only a certain amount of willpower each one of us have. 

Adding to that, according to Baumeister, PhD, a researcher at Florida State University (Gang, I know how we feel about Florida State, but lets not judge!) 

willpower is not

  • a personality trait

  • a skill

  • a virtue

Instead, it operates like a muscle. And as such, it can be strengthened -- but also easily exhausted (Baumeister 2003)

There was an interesting Psychology study done to prove this(Baumeister 1998) .

There were two rooms. Both rooms had one plate of cookies and one plate of radishes.

In room number 1, the 67 participants were asked to eat just the cookies and not the radishes... I am pretty sure you know what happened


Room 1: Cookies and Radishes Study
Participants asked to eat the plate of cookies and not the plate of radishes


In room number 2, the 67 participants were asked to eat the radishes and not the delicious chocolate cookies. Guess what, they weren't too happy about it.


Room 2: Cookies and Radishes Study
Participants asked to eat the plate of Radishes and ignore the plate of cookies

After the eating, the 67 participants were given an IMPOSSIBLE task to complete. The researchers knew that the participants won’t be able to complete the task but they wanted to see how quickly they give up.


After Room 1 and 2: Cookies and Radishes Study
Participants asked to complete an impossible task.

In the end, both groups ended up giving up - No surprises there (humans…. shakes head) but what was astonishing is that the participants that were allowed to eat the cookies (aka ROOM 1) gave up in 19 mins

COMPARATIVELY,

the group that were allowed to eat the ever so sexy radishes (aka ROOM 2), gave up in 8 mins

And for those of you that didn't really get the conclusion from the study  (we know you are out there)... let me simplify it ... the kids that ate radishes had depleted their willpower and so they gave up A LOT faster.

In the psychology world, the key finding of this seemingly silly study was a breakthrough: self-control is a general strength that's used across different sorts of tasks  -- and it could be depleted.

again, proving that self-control is limited energy that you have and you need to conserve. Coming to our Next BIG POINT

The best way to conserve SELF-CONTROL/WILLPOWER is to NOT make any decisions.

or the way I say it is to DECIDE to not making any decision!

You are probably like- WTF, Mahrukh, that makes no sense. Chill! Let me explain.

You make ZERO decisions or close to ZERO decisions by setting systems and routines in to your life. As the cool Scott Adams say, "Losers have goals, Winners have systems."

You need to start cutting instances in your life that require you to make decisions. And the way you start doing that is by establishing routine and systems. For those of you that don't know the difference, below is a google definition.

Routine:   a sequence of actions regularly followed; a fixed program.

System:  a set of principles or procedures according to which something is done; an organized scheme or method.

People think having set routines takes away from your freedom but actually I 100% think its the exact opposite. Having routines and systems allow you to have more freedom because your brain really wants to automate a lot of things in life so that it can focus on the important decisions (i.e. Choosing the right dates to go on, asking for that next promotion, taking the next course) Basically decisions that help improve your life and move you towards the person you always wanted to be.

Think about it - when you start driving - you have to think about everything - where am I looking? where is my foot? how hard do I press the break? where is the mirror? why is this car not a tesla?

But then once you learn how to drive - your brain automates a lot of the above mentioned steps. Its what it likes to do- automate - so for heavens sake let it do that.

So now you are wondering okay cool I know all of this now -- so now what? how do I apply this to my life? Right? Awesome- I was just going there.

In one of my earlier posts, I spoke about morning routines, so if you want to learn more about it, you can go check it out. For this post, lets talk about how you can reduce decisions in your life.

Key word being REDUCE

  1. If you are a coffee/tea drinker, try to make sure you drink the same kind every day and leave Friday for the day you want to choose which coffee you want. For example Monday to Thursday, have coffee with 1 milk and 1 sugar (choose a healthier kind if you can, such as black.. but honestly its better to choose what you can stick with) and then Friday, give yourself the permission to have a latte. This way you have the freedom to drink something different without it taking too much mental energy as well.

  2. Going in to work and/or school, when you open up your email, make a decision that you will only check email for 30 mins. This way you can check and action on the important ones but at the same time not spend time doing work that won't move the needle on your tasks list.

  3. Commit to having the same lunch Mon-Fri and you can switch up your dinner options. 

  4. For those who have the hotelling system at work, try to sit at the same place every time you go to work. For people in school, try to get a similar seat in class. For those who work from home, have a designated work space.

  5. Complete your budget at the same time every month, try automating as many bills as possible so you don't even have to think about it.

  6. Workout at the same time and wearing the same clothes if possible ( I literally have 3 of the same outfits so I don't have to spend time thinking which one looks cuter on me every time - REAL problems)

So yeah.. these are just a few ways you can reduce important decisions. What are some ways you have reduced making decisions in your life? Would love to hear from you or maybe not?!

Till next time, Lots of love!!

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Mahrukh Imtiaz4 Comments