What if you made 100 better decisions? How could things be different?
This is what I asked myself at the beginning of this month. (By the way, if Oprah is reading this, I 100% made this up so please give me the credit if this becomes one of your favorite things.)
A hundred decisions sounds like a lot. In reality, you make hundreds of decisions a day. What time to wake up, what clothes to wear, whether to shower or not, what shampoo to use, if you’ll blowdry your hair, what toothpaste you’ll use, whether you’ll brush your teeth before or after you shower… you get the picture.
Now in your decisions lies your lifestyle, your values, and your ambitions. Once you hack how people make decisions, you can help them reach their goals. Here are two approaches I’ve seen to this:
Option 1: The Limited Decision Approach
Productivity experts like Tim Ferris say to have a completely structured routine for the first two hours of every day. The idea is that your brain uses energy to make decisions and rather than wasting that brainpower on oatmeal versus eggs, you should save it for more important decisions later in the day. This totally makes sense to me. This is why you see a bajillion articles about what successful people do the first hour or two of every morning. It’s a thing.
You can also look at this on the other end of the day, where people often protect the last hour of their day for reflection or planning the next day so they can go to sleep with a clear mind and wake up with their decisions already made for them.
Option 2: Following A Plan
If you aren’t keen on making up your own structure, there are PLENTY out there for you to follow, whether you want to learn to fall asleep faster or run a marathon.
When you are on a plan, you have a set of rules you follow for a set period of time to achieve some goal. It’s easiest to think about this with diet. If I am doing Whole30, for example, and someone offers me a gin and tonic, I say no. Alcohol is not allowed on Whole30. That decision of what I can and can’t eat (or when I can eat things) has been made by whatever plan I’m on: paleo, low carb, Mediterranean, etc.
I have issues with both these options.
Why Limited Decisions Is Not Entirely It For Me
My schedule varies day to day and in particular, weekdays to weekends. The idea of doing the same thing every morning not only bores me to tears but doesn’t work well with my life.
For example, every Friday morning, I have a super early standing meeting. The idea of getting up at 5:30 am EVERY MORNING makes me want to gouge my eyes out. (I don’t mind doing it once a week though.)
My modification to Tim Ferris’ plan is that I have Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday morning blocks planned for myself. One day is meal prep, one going to the transfer station, one for running errands (post office, car registration, library, etc.) Monday is my ease into the week morning and Friday is my early meeting (ie no time for my block-o-productivity). I am ok with this arrangement as it gives me some flexibility but it chunks out my morning and I get some of the benefits of minimizing decisions.
Why Following A Plan Doesn’t Entirely Work For Me
One of my core traits is my flexibility. You wouldn’t know it to look at me but I can actually be pretty spontaneous and laid back. Like if I go to your house and you made a fresh loaf of bread and asked if I wanted a piece? I would say ‘Yes!’ even though I don’t normally eat or buy bread. Because you made it and that’s awesome. I can’t categorically say no to things; it’s not in my nature or sustainable (in my opinion).
So what’s a gal like me to do?
What if I just look at my life as a series of decisions and write down when I make a better one until I reach 100 decisions?
Like maybe I have one gin and tonic and while considering a second one, I have two glasses of water instead.
So why did I think this would work for me and potentially others?
- Most of us remember bad things and forget the good things. This is like an easier to fill out gratitude journal.
- Sometimes we fall of the wagon and use it as an excuse for continued bad behavior (well, I had one glass of wine today, might as well have the ice cream too!). With 100 Better Decisions, each decision is an opportunity to start fresh.
- By looking at each decision framed by the question ‘Will this get me closer to my goal?’, we train ourselves to spot times when we could make better decisions. Asking the question repeatedly makes sure the larger goal gets cemented in.
Now my goal has to do with getting healthier. Some things I wrote down out of 100:
Saved half my breakfast and ate it at lunch.
Chose vanilla seltzer instead of a cocktail.
Put cinnamon instead of cream in my coffee.
Has this approached helped me get closer to my goal? Yes.
Does it fit into my lifestyle? Yes.
Do I think you should try it? Please!