Adults make about 35,000 decisions a day ... no wonder we end up with decision fatigue.
Adults make about 35,000 decisions a day ... no wonder we end up with decision fatigue. iStock

Making clear decision needs all your mental energy

We have just made it through several weeks, if not months, of election fervour and fever.

Although I have views about what I deem to be important when it comes to social issues, I have never been particularly active politically or overly strong in my views.

But, as with any decision, I like to do some research so that I feel a little more informed when it comes to making my choice.

Doing that can be a bit of a challenge in politics these days. In any case, manoeuvring through the various parties' representatives to get into the polling station felt similar to dodging an over-zealous sales team.

I'm not sure what they hope to achieve with spruiking or how successful they are at convincing someone to change their vote at the last minute as, like many people I imagine, I had already made my decision.

However, this article is about decisions and how we come to them - and it's a complex process.

Essentially, decisions are about choice and we weigh up our options based on past experience as well as current information, the various pros and cons and the consequences of our choice or choices.

All of that requires effort and exhausts our energy-hungry brain. If you've ever made a decision when you're tired and grumpy you might look back and realise that it's not the best time to decide on anything, particularly anything significant. And then consider that adults make about 35,000 decisions a day ... no wonder we end up with decision fatigue.

Another interesting aspect is the Goldilocks Concept. In other words, for our brain to work optimally we need just the right amount of stress, energy, information etc; and in relation to decisions and choices, when faced with too much information or too many choices we can easily feel overwhelmed and indecisive and our ability to select wisely is compromised.

A bit like choosing milk or cereal at the supermarket and also like me at the polling booth. Who are all these parties? What do they stand for? And then having to list them in order of preference...

What can we do about it? Not politics but decisions. Make sure you're not focusing on too many things or too much information all at once because that's overwhelming. Make important decisions first, when you have the mental energy to be objective and weigh up the alternatives, rather than when you're physically and mentally drained.

And, most importantly, be totally present at any given moment, notice where you are paying attention and make sure that you are attending to whatever or whoever needs it most.

Rowena Hardy is a facilitator and coach at mindsaligned.com.au


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