Decision Fatigue


I read a really interesting article in Outside Magazine (I highly recommend this publication,  at the very least follow them on Twitter @outsidemagazine).

The central concept was that we all suffer from "decision fatigue". The phenomenon comes in 2 forms either the number of decisions we can make in a day, or the quality of our decisions once we get fatigued. Once we have made a certain number of decisions over the course of a day our decisions become poorer. Such as having that extra glass of wine or piece of dessert. Or when we are fatigued the quality of our decisions become compromised. The only way around this trap is to reduce the number of decisions we need to make so that we don't leave something we value to chance. The chance that we might make a poor decision! (the link to the article is at the end of this note)

Heading into the holidays we can all fall prey to "decision fatigue"! I mean this in the most positive and upbeat way. Many of us will travel, have friends & family visiting us, it is a wonderful time of year. At the outset let me be clear "I am not advocating that anyone become the stereotypical ubergeek". The one that forgoes a family gathering to get a trainer session in. No on the contrary I am hoping to give a way to have your holidays & get some workouts in, in short how do we balance our many obligations in the easiest way possible.

The article really struck a chord for me because it supported a concept that a friend of mine introduced me to many, many years ago. My friend Richard was a high level trainer one one of the biggest brokerage houses in Canada, way back when being a broker was still an honorable profession (apologies to anyone who is currently an honorable broker, you are a rare breed)

Richards concept was LND, Least Number of Decisions. He was already onto to decision fatigue in the 80s. His contention was if you leave something to a decision you open yourself up to making a poor decision.

So how does this relate to our training? Lets look at it from another angle. Did you have to decide to go to work today? I suspect that it is never a decision, it is simply something you do. Well I'm also guessing that when you got up this morning it was on your schedule to come to class.

The key point is that these things we consider "obligations" (btw that is not meant to imply the negative connotations that this word often carries) are simply not a decision.  Short of illness or family emergency we do not have to decide to go to work.

Ultimately if we want to be successful and consistent with our training we need to remove the possibility that "to train or not to train" is left to a decision. We need to move it into the realm of something we simply do on a regular basis. As Trev says "it's a lifestyle not a work out."

So how might this play out over the holidays?

First off start from what is realistic, in terms of the number of training sessions you can/want to get in? If your regular schedule is the two sessions a week that we do in spin, let's set that as a goal (if it works for you).

Next let's look at your travel, family, social or work obligations. See where they stack up. There will be days when you simply can't work out.  However, you will likely see days that if not wide open where you do have an hour or two open. Book your appointment NOW! Now it is a non decision, you have the time set aside and you can work your other obligations around that.

I promise you that once you look at things from the point of view of "where will I do this", versus "I hope I have time at some point",  you will be astonished how easily you can fit your sessions in.

As a side note for those of you who find the holidays stressful, getting a few workouts in will be a huge blessing. You'll feel recharged,  relaxed and have a few minutes all to yourself.

Have a great time over the holidays! And give yourself the gift of "The Least Number of Decisions".