I’m not fan of working out. Yes, I understand the benefits are enormous. The older I get and the more I’m educated about the body and how it works, I’m convinced that being pro-active in a healthy lifestyle is much more worthy than the lifestyle I’m naturally drawn to. But this reality comes with a boatload of daily decisions that must have my attention.
Do I spend the day convincing myself that broccoli is better for me than fried zucchini? And that those 15 minutes of sleep really will give me a big advantage at work?
Is there a way to lessen the burden of the decisions I am faced with day after day? There are limits to our willpower, but we do have the option to put some of our decisions on autopilot.
The problem with willpower.
Each of us has a finite amount of willpower in any given day. So if I’m spending willpower on “Do I go the gym or not, do I eat this or that, do I sleep 15 more minutes or not?” how much energy, attention and willpower is expended in just making these everyday (although life impacting) decisions?
And what happens to those decisions as the day moves on? I suspect this is why my eating habits tend to deteriorate as I get to evening. I’m tired, I’ve used up all the willpower I have for the day, and frankly I just want some down time. Not a high motivation to go the gym or make better food choices.
Deciding to decide ahead of time (autopilot).
If we’ve only got limited resources on the willpower front, how about reframing these daily decisions into autopilot. Any pilot will tell you that even with autopilot on, you still have to make course corrections. However, making some decisions up front lessens the heavy lifting.
Autopiloting those daily decisions can take away the burden of constantly deciding this or that, today or tomorrow, and save that willpower – Super Focus – for big decisions that don’t come around daily.
- Is this the correct way to approach my boss on this issue?
- Should we make this high-end purchase right now or wait?
- Is now the right time to discuss having children?
These are all big decisions that don’t necessarily need my attention daily, but could have a life-long effect. So how do we get the best of both worlds? How do we save focus for the big life questions and also get into a groove with those life architecture habits?
In the daily stuff…Schedule what you’ve committed to do every day. If that’s to hit the gym or walk 3 times a week – put it in your schedule. Treat it as an appointment and not something that can be moved at the drop of a hat. If you’re committed to healthy eating and that involves cooking or purchasing premade meals, block out time for this task so you’re prepared and not caught without the proper resources. I know without a doubt that when I have food prepared and I’ve made a plan, I’m much more likely to follow the decisions I’ve made. If you need eight hours of sleep, set an alarm to tell you it is time to go to bed at 10:00 p.m.
In the big stuff…Make decisions when you’re not under a ton of pressure or time constraints. Discuss decisions with a trusted friend who can give you perspective. Be your best self in times of making those BIG life-changing decisions.
Sticking to the daily changes you’ve committed to will give you confidence and focus for the other big things in life that are sure to come our way.
What are some decisions for this week that you can make right now? What do you need to do today to make sure you are able to follow through on your decisions?