Decision Fatigue!

It is a daily ritual for me before going to bed to plan what would be on the next day’s lunch and dinner platter. If I do not decide the menu in advance, then the morrow will see insipidly predictable outcomes of mayhem with colossal waste of time and a prolonged effort leading to frustration on what I am going to cook. The mundane oft repeated decision making for items for lunch and dinner, not that I am spoilt for choices but cannot have too many repetitions, with a deal already negotiated and struck on breakfast, the typical south Indian fare of idli or Dosa, has led to the point of chronic fatigue syndrome, the symptom for a greater syndrome called “Decision fatigue” conceived by social psychologist Dr. Roy F. Baumeister, based on the Freudian hypothesis of ego depletion.

There are lot of things in the same class, from the plain and simple to highly complex things on making up our minds, the constant hawking and mongering on choices, the idea of choosing what to wear each day and the accompanying accessories, not to mention the associated superstition of some outfits to be lucky charms while many attributed to bad days and omens, after all, these in consequential choices may have large repercussions, the butterfly effect! Coming back to the daily exhaustive list of decision making is phenomenal to say the least. Researchers have suggested that on an average, a man makes a staggering 35,000 selections to complete his day. Harping on food for a while longer here will indeed prove my point. Starting from the morning cuppa – sidestepping from coffee and tea in the mornings do pose a problem with a debilitating effect on the alternative, what is even more draining is the decision that one has to take for others, here are some common conversations which can conk you out! “What do you want A? green tea or ginger tea! “S which tie goes with this shirt? Or “which is the matching socks”? “Do you want fruits with your lunch?” And the unanimous answer is “Whatever you like”!!! There is consensus with the family folks on this one.

The cumbersome life and times of people in different professions, with each one of them demanding a plethora of choices from contrasting, divergent and tangent alternatives can beat the hell out of us. For those in the medical profession, especially in pandemic times can be challenging and burdensome, the employees in the technology and related fields have their fair share of trials and tribulations, for me as a teacher, comes the arduous task of the identity I create for myself, am I a facilitator, an educator or a teacher? In addition is the need to plan out a lesson with relevant content and the related activity which must be engaging and fun. Choose, decide, select, elect, adjudicate and resolve become key constituents in a teacher’s repertoire.

I do not fall in the stereotype “Shopaholic Women”, never enjoy the crowd, and prefer that others do it for me because of the choice phobia, can always set foot with a list of couple of items such as a loaf of bread or a packet of biscuits and come out with everything but the items on the list and not be ecstatic as women are pigeonholed to be after a shopping spree, the power to select lets me down always. Impulse buying is a fall out of this fatigue syndrome.

The perplexing weighty ones that have far reaching impact such as deciding on the person whom one is going to marry, or when to have children, better still, whether to have kids at all, or do I buy my dream house with my savings or on a loan, if on a loan, which bank and at what rate and other terms and conditions, buying a car – never easy with the models, the colours, the variants,  ooof, is like going through a labyrinth, a maze with all its complications, convolutions and consequences! Tradeoffs, or picking a preferred preference instead of a right one has dire repercussions and the aftermath can be excruciating. All the maladies of hitting the choice button!

So, it is back to square one, the inevitable, toggling the trigger button to choose depending upon one’s moods and dispositions. In the process, through the day, I adopt umpteen number of strategies – leverage on spontaneity which is the natural me, dance to someone’s tunes, the most unlikely me, deflect the idea by passing on the buck, which never works with me, or be rational, which is beyond me! Little wonder, my brain gets fagged out at the very thought of making a choice, let alone having to cast a die. I am slowly inching my way to the zone of cutting down on decision making, looking up to Barack Obama or Mark Zuckerberg for inspiration, at least in the attire, and not for utilizing the mental capacity to serve billions, specific clothes for the different days of the week with no casual Friday dressing tradition.

How does one combat this ailment? Planning meals, taking frequent breaks, simplifying the wardrobes, staying away from distractions, prioritizing can be a succor to begin with but with mounting choices in a cluttered brain, are these possible?

Well, if you the reader, had made a choice, to continue till the end of the post, then I look forward to you pouring your mind on this matter.

7 thoughts on “Decision Fatigue!

  1. As a young kid, one can rely on parents to choose for us. As one grows older there are many things in life that you would have to choose among the innumerable alternatives-be it what to make for lunch, whom to marry and for what traits, to be self-employed or to work for someone, in the home country or abroad and such matters.. You have the power to choose without any power to avoid the responsibility to make a choice. You cannot shy away from these responsibilities by always delegating to others to know their preferences as the final choice and its outcome would only be yours.
    A life with many choices would be a bliss than one where everything is determined by others.
    A preplanned menu, dress, social activities, what to watch on TV for each day may rob life of its surprise and beauty.
    I liked this quote by Roman Payne-“Never did the world make a queen of a girl who hides in houses and dreams without travelling.” Instead confront the world and make your choices with much hope and no fatigue.

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  2. It is a delight to have your thoughts on the post and your observations are meritorious and the quote is indeed the icing on the cake. While I agree that without the choices, life would be drab, boring and insipid, however, when one is constantly badgered and plagued by too many of them as is the trend in the contemporary settings, be it for education, career or social media, and that too for the others, it may affect our system leading to a burn out. I have observed many people who choose to stay away from decision making and be like Dr Watson to Sherlock Holmes and things do fall in its place on its own.

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  3. Whatever you choose never regret it afterwards is my motto. But it is easier said than done
    Wish you many more such posts
    With love from Appa

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  4. I have this perspective-There’s no such thing as the “right” decision!Make your decision with the wisdom available to you which comes of of the knowledge, experience,your understanding of the situation and your judgement of the consequence!Once the decision is made Just put everything at your disposal to make it right!

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    • Wish I had your wisdom and also the dexterity to tweak and work around the decisions to make it rigjt! As the old adage goes ..leave nothing to chance, weighing the options under the present scenario where we have an overdose is so cumbersome..I am always in a catch 22 situation or making a Hobson’s choice!!!

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