Eat McDonald’s, Make Better Decisions… Kind of

Chris Byczkowski

By Chris Byczkowski
Tech Lead, Developer

Eat McDonald’s, Make Better Decisions… Kind of

Navigating today’s landscape can be exhausting to say the least. Regardless of what your career is or how much experience you have in said career, there will inevitably come a point where fatigue will replace the vigor which once kept you on the ball and ahead of the curve.

During these periods of mental, emotional or physical fatigue, the first thing which usually suffers is our judgement. Well thought out decisions are quickly replaced by good enough decisions which can tarnish your reputation or the reputations of others if the quality of work suffers as a result.

As if the demands of your career weren’t taxing enough, we’re perpetually bombarded by lists, articles and advertisements about eating healthier, exercising more and reducing the amount of stress in our lives so we can continue to give 110%. Keeping up with keeping up is exhausting in itself. Oh, and supplements… Did I mention supplements? Supplements to help you focus. Supplements for fast, long lasting, healthy energy without the crash. Supplements to help you lose weight. Supplements, supplements and more supplements.

As a society we are quickly approaching peak exhaustion. Eventually we will become so dependent on supplements to help us stay afloat that we’ll forget there are some fundamental tweaks we can make each day to lessen our dependence on stimulants while still operating at optimum levels.

How Much do Your Decisions Weigh?
No seriously. Lets take a moment to think about some of the questions you may be faced with each day before even getting to work.

  • What time do I need to wake up?
  • What to wear?
  • Which route to take if there’s traffic?
  • What to eat for breakfast?
  • What do I need to do after work?

Each of these questions, as well as the questions you will inevitably be faced with during and after work have different cognitive weights for different people and thus varying degrees of willpower needed to answer them. For example, what to eat for breakfast weighs very heavy on my mind but the question of what to wear may weigh more on yours. By simply taking some time to think, and be honest with yourself about the questions you’re faced with each day and how significant the answers to those questions are to you can help you realize your willpower threshold.

A scenario from my life which exemplifies this would be if I have a stacked day full of meetings, presentations and maybe a little development work, it would be irresponsible of me to waste precious willpower on deciding what to eat for breakfast. So, instead of draining my willpower I simply give in to temptation and satisfy my brains reward center with a trip to McDonald’s. Because the task of deciding what to eat for breakfast weighs more on my mind than some of the other decisions I make in the morning, making a conscious choice to not struggle with the question allows me to fight off fatigue a bit longer and focus on decisions of greater consequence.

Below are some links to actual science which fortifies this article. Enjoy.

  1. The Chocolate-and-Radish Experiment That Birthed the Modern Conception of Willpower
  2. You’ve Got a Limited Supply of Willpower, so Use It Wisely
  3. Decision fatigue
  4. Is Willpower a Limited Resource?

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