How making less decisions can make you more successful
Have you ever wondered why Steve Jobs wore a black turtleneck nearly every day of his life? It was one less decision to make every day! How could one less decision make much of a difference?
Some people spend a lot of time deciding what to wear, and it adds time to your day. If you wear a black turtleneck every day, you probably have more than one of them. So it’s easy to pull one out of the closet and put it on. Takes no thought whatsoever if all you have in your closet is black turtlenecks!
Decisions take up our energy and our willpower, weakening us for the rest of the day. Seriously, though, how can saving one decision like what to wear make that big of a difference in our daily lives? Ask Elizabeth Holmes, CEO and founder of Theranos.
“It saves having to decide what to wear each morning,” says Holmes. She uses that saved energy to focus on work, which could just be one of the small steps that led to her billionaire status.
The energy and willpower saved when not making these decisions can help us get through our day. Willpower itself is a vast separation between animals and humans.
Why we don’t act like animals
When an animal has an instinct, it acts on it. When we have an instinct, we can act on it or suppress it. If we suppress it, we call it self-control, or our power over our will.
Willpower comes into play most clearly when referring to things that give us pleasure. For example, let’s say you love ice cream. You could eat several bowls a day, but there would be consequences to this.
This is where willpower comes into play, because you can limit the amount of ice cream you consume, even though it gives you great pleasure every time you eat it.
To be happy is not to be in a state of pleasure. Happiness is tied to our ability to control our appetites and instincts. Food is one of the most common decisions we have to make every day. Think for a minute. How many times would you say you have to make a food decision every day? Five times? 10?
Would you believe 227 times a day on average? Most people answer with the number 14, but it’s actually closer to over 200 times a day according to The Cornell Food and Brand Lab. Our bodies need food to live, sure. And we’ve been made to enjoy food, and even have cravings sometimes for things we need.
But these cravings can get out of hand. The key is moderation and reducing temptations. The simplest way to improve our willpower around foods that could be bad for us is to not have it available. Don’t buy it. It sounds simplistic, and it is. It’s also true.
Grocery shopping for dummies
Do you know which aisles at the grocery store are your nemesis? It’s usually the ones in the middle of the store. Avoid shopping in the middle of the store and stick to meats and veggies.
This will give you a chance to avoid making the decision whether or not to slip those Oreos into your shopping cart. If you don’t see them, you won’t get them. It’s the old “out of sight, out of mind” adage coming into play once again. For more on healthy food choices and realistic and sustainable goals, click here.
The less decisions you have to make each day, the more willpower you have. We spend approximately 1/4 of our waking hours resisting desires. Food, sleep, sex, vegging on the couch, etc.
Every decision we make sucks energy out of us. If we can remove some of those smaller decisions, like what to wear, it gives us more energy for the bigger decisions later in the day, such as whether to fire that employee or give them another chance.
So your challenge this week? Make less decisions.
Challenge #5: Remove one decision from every day this week, whether it’s the same decision every day, such as wearing the same clothes, or a different one every day. Leave me a comment telling me what you decided not to decide and how it worked out for you!
Who is Doug? Doug Kisgen is an author, entrepreneur and personality expert. His primary work? Raising his five kids with his wife of 20+ years in the hill country of Texas.
For ways to put these ideas into practice, check out Doug’s book, Rethink Happy: An Entrepreneur’s Journey Toward Authentic Joy, available for pre-order now!