On the most recent episode of The Tim Ferriss Show podcast, Tim interviewed legendary author Jim Collins, famous for the book Good to Great among many others. Jim talked about his experience meeting the even more legendary Peter Drucker and what he learned from him. One quote in particular stood out.
"Never make one hundred decisions when one will do."
The problem with making multiple decisions is that each decision can be an obstacle to progress.
Suppose you decide you are going to go for a run. You have to decide what time you are going to run. You have to decide what clothes to wear. You have to decide which shoes to wear. You have to decide where you are going to run. Decision after decision and if you are not motivated to run you my just decide not to.
Another example is eating healthy. You decide you are going to eat healthy. You have to decide which healthy recipes you want to make for the week. You have to decide which grocery store to go to buy all the ingredients. You have to make a grocery list and decide whether to make alternate choices based on what's on sale. Sounds like a lot of work, and maybe it's just easier to get a bucket of fried chicken from KFC.
The key is to make that first decision the most important one, and then create a system that allows the rest of the tasks to fall into place. Plan the run in advance by knowing when and where you will run. Have an outfit and shoes ready to go. Once you make the decision to run, the rest is automatic leading to a greater chance of success. For healthy eating, do the research up front so that it's not reinventing the wheel every time you go shopping. You can also use one of the many available meal planning services to make it easier to have healthy meals available.
Awhile back I became annoyed with how long it was taking to sort dress socks. There were different shades of black and brown and blue, different styles, and it was wasting a lot of time pairing them up after the laundry. I decided to get rid of all my dress socks and buy new ones. I bought a dozen black and a dozen brown. These two colors are easily distinguishable and the uniformity means socks of one color will all pair with each other. This is a simple change, but it saves me time and eliminates decisions every time I do laundry and pack for a trip. And I'm not a fashionista, so having only two colors of socks does not bother me.
Think about all the extra decisions you make every day that are unnecessary. These decisions are using up brainpower and willpower and could be creating obstacles to progress. Take inventory of the decisions you make every day and resolve to eliminate the ones that are unnecessary. Identify the first decision that is the most important, then create a system around the actions associated with that decision to make it effortless.