Decision fatigue, analysis paralysis … just give me a damn break already


Originally uploaded by dcwriterdawn

Whenever I question whether living in Florida is right for me, a sign comes along … this time in the form of a reminder that sand is an integral part of our dress code.

Reminds you that everything else is so much less important!

Was just reading an article in the NYT about “decision fatigue.” Not that this is a new concept, by any means. (How many of us stare at stock charts all day and DON’T walk away with “analysis paralysis”? Same thing.)

I giggled at the line toward the end that you shouldn’t restructure your company at 4 p.m. (A subtle reminder to those who did exactly that, at a frequency of every two months.)

But really, what spoke to me the most was how it affects us po’ folk, especially those of us who SHOULDN’T be dancing on the poverty line because we are fine decision-makers when it comes to other people’s business … but not when it comes to our own.

The concept of trade-offs fascinated me. I mean, I argue with myself at every hour of every day about something. Usually about food. And by the time the end of the day hits, I am so sick of substitutions for what I really want, and bartering at great length (whether with myself or others) about every possible outcome of every damn decision I have to make, that the array of choices, simply, kills me.

Yesterday was a great example. Took the UEOEH from outer space to her favorite bakery, whereupon she gleefully spent my Groupon (and then some). I was good — I ate healthily all day. But come 9 p.m., I was so tired of resisting the big-ass box of treats that I went straight for the chocolate-peanut-butter cupcake. I had half of it, but even that portion was big as my thigh.

Anyway, I’ve been feeling bad that I have some colleagues who work at night and send me e-mails then. But I can’t do it. My ass is off the computer at a reasonable hour. I’m up early and will give everything I’ve got when I’m around. But I know at the end of the night I am all about the, “Fuck it, do whatever you want” response. (Then they get e-mails in the morning with, “Hey, that question you asked? This is what I want.”) Why not skip the middle conversation and reply once?

Same with bowing out of a freelance assignment. God I have argued myself exhausted over whether that was the latest in a string of stupid decisions. My gut says it’s fine. My heart is willing to go along with it. But tell that to my brain.

But that’s the idea behind the article. That rich people don’t make as many trade-offs as the rest of us do. That they can start businesses and have them fail and just ride their little trust funds or ask the parents for the rent this month. Everything is life-or-death for the rest of us. One bad decision means a thousand other things to fix. One bad food choice today can lead to a lifetime of poor eating habits if that’s always the thing that goes to the bottom of the list in importance.

Blame it on the glucose if you must, but it’s good to realize there actually is a biological reason why the most mentally exhausted among us, who are responsible for everyone and everything around us, completely fall down on the job when it comes to our own health and happiness.

Just goes to show that life is all about self-preservation. It’s OK to make a decision simply by NOT making one. That big-ass box of cupcakes in my fridge may ruin my chances of fitting back into my favorite jeans, but if it keeps my mind awake and my mood somewhere above “suicidal,” then Michelle Obama had better add room on her “Food Plate” for frosting.

Of course, with that attitude, how am I going to fit in the dress I bought for this “toes in the sand” event? I already went a size smaller than I should have. Damn it, why can’t a racing mind burn calories the same way a racing body does?

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