Do you have a LOT of ideas for projects and nothing completed to show for it?
Maybe you find yourself sitting down to work on your project but then become paralyzed, wondering what to work on?
Are you putting your energy into so many things that you’re not getting very far with any of them?
Are you constantly coming up with ideas or strategizing the many possibilities in which the idea can manifest?
One thing is for sure: The more you procrastinate about choosing where to focus, the more the stress builds, and the more indecisiveness becomes an obstacle to reaching your goals and realizing your dreams.
This is part two of a five-part series on “DIY obstacles,” which are obstacles we create on our own that get in the way of us completing our projects and moving toward our dreams and desires.
This tiny talk is about the DIY obstacle best known as indecision, typically created by decision fatigue and fear of the unknown.
Decision fatigue is caused by having to navigate an overwhelming number of decisions, and this eventually wears you down and results in poor quality decision-making. It may also cause you to avoid making decisions altogether, leading to low motivation and a feeling of being stuck.
You can do so many things to reduce decision fatigue and you will instantly notice how much more focus you have on the bigger, more important things going on for you.
Too many decisions add a level of stress that we don’t have to have in our lives.
The easiest way to deal with decision fatigue is to create simple rituals and practical constraints around everyday decisions. This way, they don’t drain your brain when you get a chance to work on important projects, and you can better focus on making high-quality decisions that will help you reach your goals and live the life you want to live.
Constraints might sound limiting and controlling but what is really happening is you are taking control of what the world is giving you. You define the constraints; the constraints don’t define you.
Here are some places to consider in your own life that might be conducive to creating constraints and rituals around so you can take back your mental energy, increase your motivation, and help you get unstuck.
Two huge areas of life that many of us flail through on autopilot and waste precious mental energy on are our decisions around what to eat and what to wear. You can put constraints around the decision-making process for both of these areas.
Choose a go-to work uniform or a color-coordinated wardrobe; maybe you only buy three colors? You can also buy all your clothing from one particular store or one brand. That would be extreme for some people but maybe not for others. There is something everyone can do to minimize decision fatigue in the closet. Figure out what that is for you and put it into place.
For meals, have the same one or two things for breakfast and lunch every day, and maybe ten or so nutritious go-to meals for dinner, and then just add in special touches. If you love to cook, you can save your creative cooking experiments for the weekend or days off. I love to cook, but not when I have to make a whole bunch of decisions and only have an hour to do so.
You can plan and prep your meals for the entire week so you’re not having to decide what and when to eat and cook.
If you can afford it, try a meal delivery service. I do this at the beginning of each month because that is when I try to get the heaviest lifting done in my business, and the more time and mental energy I can save, the better. Right now, I’m using a company called Sunbasket.
For social media, put constraints around the amount of time you spend on it. You could decide just to use one platform instead of being on all of them.
You can reduce decisions around finances by automating as many transactions as possible and using only one bank instead of three or four. Commit to only spending money on one day of the week.
Creating morning and evening rituals is a form of constraint that allows you to prioritize self-care and not have to try to figure out when and how you will take care of yourself. Planning what you’re going to work on the night before is also super helpful.
For me, a side benefit in doing this is that it reduces the amount of morning anxiety I have so I can focus that precious morning mental energy on meaningful tasks as that is when I perform at my best. I’m not freaking about what I should focus on, and I’m not worried about forgetting something because I already planned it out – I just need to show up and do it.
For projects, you’re working on deciding on the three main things you want to accomplish for the year, then the quarter, then the month, and weeks. In my opinion, there is no better way to get things done and stay focused.
Create theme days. Mondays could be research days; Tuesdays work on character. Wednesday is for marketing, and Thursday is learning day. Whatever appeals to you.
This same concept applies to an actual project that you’re working on, too. What can you eliminate or simplify to make room for what is most important about that project? What additional constraints can you impose to make the big idea of it even more powerful?
The action step here is to identify which parts of your personal, business, and creative areas of life are tripping you up in the decision fatigue arena. It’s these little everyday things that drain our mental energy and suck up our time.
Make a game out of making things more simple and elegant. To accomplish this, you want to think of what you can subtract from your life, not what you can add. Subtract the stuff that is preventing you from performing at your highest level. Where are you giving yourself way too many options? You can apply your unique constraints to these areas.
The other way indecision becomes an obstacle in our lives is when we avoid making decisions because of fear of the unknown or lack of certainty in the outcome. Usually, we are worried about failing, doing it wrong, or some other unknown consequence that might or might not happen if we try. Instead of deciding to take a new action or try something different, we end up making the same decision over and over again and are no further along than if we had not made any decision at all.
If you find yourself in this spot, ask why you need certainty before making a decision. If you don’t like your answer, get some coaching around the issue that comes up.
Let’s say I want to finish my screenplay in six months. Instead of making some high-quality decisions to make that inevitable, I tell myself I’ll play it by ear – which is another way of saying you’ll let the circumstances control the outcome. That is a decision but not a very high-quality one.
It comes back to what I said earlier about constraints; they sound limiting and controlling, but when you define the constraints, the constraints don’t define you.
Here are some ideas to navigate this obstacle of fear of the unknown when making a decision.
- Make decisions from where you want to be, not from where you currently are. The person you are now does not have a clue, or you would already be there. A good question to ask yourself would be, “If I knew what to do, what would my decision be?”
- Make decisions that are aligned with your goals. “Will this move me closer to where I want to be or further from where I want to be?”
- Look at opportunities through the lens of your core values. Do the options present align with and support those values?
- Trust your intuition. How does your body feel when faced with a big decision? Listen to it. Trust your gut; it will not lead you astray.
- Let your personal values guide your decisions. Let those core values help you decide.
- Give yourself a deadline (for big decisions, give yourself 7-10 days).
- Ask yourself what you would most regret NOT doing.
When you do make a decision, go all-in on it and keep going. Even if that decision ends up being the wrong one, you’ve learned something, you’ve grown more into the person who will reach that goal or dream, and you’ll be way more motivated and unstuck than someone who just decided to stay in indecision.
Here are some action steps you can take right now to minimize low-value decisions by reducing things down to the simplest form:
- Brainstorm any frustrations or annoyances you currently have in your life.
- Choose one of them to work on.
- Brainstorm some ideas or actions you can take and apply the concept of adding constraints.
I could talk about this stuff for days on end and love it! But because this is a tiny talk – I need to put some constraints on the content…. 🙂
Join me next week for Part 3 on the DIY obstacle, a fixed mindset.
A creativity coach helps you focus on the things that will make the biggest difference in moving your projects forward. Book a free consultation here and find out how we can work together to get your project out into the world where it belongs.