How to avoid decision fatigue

In moments of low motivation, high stress, or unexpected turmoil, it can be difficult to stay committed to goals and habit change. Good intentions go right down the drain when the sad, overworked, or stressed out brain takes over. In a moment, or in one bite, you’ve taken a turn toward the dark side of motivation and thrown caution to the wind.

How do we plan for these moments of low motivation and chaos so that we stay on track? It’s a matter of acting when motivations are high. For me, this means I need to look to my early mornings and weekends to proactively plan. I will give you two examples. The first is my running schedule. If I relied upon my afternoons or evenings to run, I would not be a runner.  Anyone who knows me, knows that around 3 o’clock in the afternoon, I begin walking into walls. I’m not necessarily tired, but I’ve used up most of my energy reserves – I’m ready to wind down. I can still get work done, but if I’ve left my run for later in the day when my motivation is low, and my brain energy is questionable, I will probably suffer decision fatigue that ultimately leads me to decide against it; it’s too hot, too late, too rainy, too cold, too boring, too much traffic, too little time, blah, blah, blah.

And then there’s my diet. You all know I’m a fruit and vegetable super freak. I try to eat as healthy as possible as often as possible which normally means I’ll have homemade soup or salad for lunch….or both. If you’ve ever seen me march into the office in the morning, you’ll see my arms loaded down with a days’ worth of stuff, most importantly, an entire days’ worth of food. My smoothie is contained in my smoothie cup and a quart mason jar for later, I have a thermos of soup, and a container with salad. If I’m working late or have coaching sessions after work, I’ll have more soup and/or salad for my dinner.  It’s a big deal and it’s a lot of food.  If I had to make my food or create a days’ worth of food during the day, especially on a week day, forget it! Instead, I set aside a couple of hours on weekends to make large batches of soup, cut veggies, grind seeds, and in general, get my kitchen in order including filling my freezer with plenty of food for the week. In the morning, when my motivation is high, I get everything organized and off I go.  I have this routine DOWN!!!!  It’s a habit. In fact, much of my life is a ritual. My husband just gets out of the way because he knows nothing gets between me and my smoothie and morning routine.

Decision fatigue. It’s a thing; a real thing. And it exists just to mess with us and throw us off our game. So next weekend, set aside two hours to shop, cut, batch, cook, freeze, and store the various parts of your meals. If it’s not your meals that are your problem, state the problem, decide when your motivation is high, and get prepping. Tonight before I go to bed, my running clothes, shoes and socks will be placed by the front door, my mason jar is by the sink ready to be filled with water first thing so I remember to drink, and my food is packed and ready to go.

Act when your motivation is high to make sure that things are in place for when motivation is low. Research tells us that low motivation rules, so plan to do this every day – every week. Avoid decision fatigue! When is your motivation high? Make your plan now!

Do you struggle with decision fatigue? Does life have a habit of tripping you up, causing you to veer away from your desired destination?  Sign up for a free health strategy session here and enjoy an hour of laser focused coaching on your biggest challenge or question and you’ll walk away with a few next-steps to uplevel your life.

 

 

 

Do you feel shitty? Here’s how to chase shitty away and be empowered!

For most of my life, I’ve considered myself to be confident, in-charge, and a positive influence on others. I’m proud of this and love that I can help motivate other people. But lately I’ve felt a little like an impostor so I’m here to fess up. Lately I’ve felt a little shitty. Can you relate? Do you feel shitty too?

Happy, positive, successful, hard-working, energetic, and confident are all descriptors of how most of us want to feel. Isn’t it interesting, though, how these feelings ebb and flow depending on our circumstances? And isn’t it even more interesting, that feeling confident and positive often depend on how others treat us and their opinions of us? We look externally for validation. We look to others to build our confidence. And when they don’t look back, or they don’t say the right thing, we quickly retreat to that shadow person – the smaller person, the one who lacks confidence, the one with the victim mentality where everything is someone else’s fault, the ornery, grumpy person that perpetuates more of the same. It’s shitty. It feels shitty. And it’s a waste of time.

For me, there are three things in life that can either make or break a person. To be grounded, positive, and IN-CHARGE, we need to eat a healthy diet, live a healthy lifestyle, and keep our stress under control. I know what you’re thinking. You think I say the same thing over and over and over. Yes, I do. That’s right. In my courses, we work on developing good, nurturing self-care practices and to some of you, that might sound silly. It also might seem like a very deficient sort of approach to feeling less shitty, or gaining confidence, or getting yourself out of a rut.

I would argue that having ONE THING totally under control in life is enough to pull you out of your funk. Think about it like this – have ever pigged out on half a box of Fruit Loops in a fit of self-pitty, or said no to a run that you KNOW would be good for you, but because you’re in such a shitty mood that you stay on the couch and fall asleep instead? Or your stress level is so out of control that you get in a fight with your partner just because he is there. Maybe he left his dirty socks in the middle of the room and the fight that ensues ends up in a discussion about divorce rather than finding a solution to that minor problem that really has nothing to do at all with how you’re feeling?

Just sayin’……

Consider instead some positive things that you can do that help you feel empowered. I love my plant-based lifestyle. Honestly, when things get depressing and when I feel like I have no control, I like to get in my kitchen and make stuff. It doesn’t really matter what it is. I find it soothing to cut up a bunch of vegetables and make and then freeze a ton of broth, so I can make soup quickly and easy in the future. Sounds mundane, doesn’t it?  And I’m sure it doesn’t sound like a solution to feeling depressed. But it’s ONE THING I can do to take control back.

When my stress level goes up, my chest feels tight. I get a weird feeling in my head as if there is a high-pitched whistle going off somewhere deep inside my skull. Can you relate? When this happens, a few deep breaths with long, and I mean really long exhales, helps bring down the tension. I love listening to podcasts, so if it’s possible during these stressful moments, I turn on a podcast and learn something new. Learning, to me, feels very empowering. It brings me back to confident-Alison, knowledgeable-Alison, the positive me that does not scurry away quickly when adversity hits.

What empowers you? What makes you feel better? Less shitty? Do that one thing. Seriously, if you’re feeling shitty like I have lately, find your happy place, your happy activity, and let it empower you. Calvin Coolidge once said “we cannot do everything at once, but we can do something at once”. What is that something? Maybe it’s not making soup or listening to a podcast. But what is it? Find ONE THING that leads you to being more healthy whether it’s eating good food or finding solace in the kitchen, going to the gym, or sitting quietly under a tree taking long deep breaths to bring down the tension. Pick ONE THING today and write it down. Commit to it and have integrity in what you’ve chosen. That means following through with your commitment. Make the commitment small enough, incremental enough, so that you’ll be successful. This, I promise you, will lead you to feeling more empowered. You’ll have at least ONE THING under control.

I gotta go. My running shoes and phone with a good podcast in queue are sitting by the backdoor. I’m going to run and learn something new and keep my grumpy shadow at bay.