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What Is Decision Fatigue and How Do I Manage It?

By: Danielle Bertini, LPC

Decisions, decisions, decisions. Choices, choices, choices. Why is it so hard to make decisions nowadays? And why are specifically millennials struggling with making decisions? I have heard many younger clients I work with discuss how there are literally TOO many choices, and they can’t decide what to do, which makes them feel anxious that they might make the wrong choice.

Yes, decision fatigue is a real thing, especially in today’s world where we are overloaded with information and have immense pressure to succeed. There are countless life decisions we have to make, from what career path to take, where to live, how to manage our money and so many (actually, too many) options. 

You might be thinking, isn’t having an abundance of options a good thing? Actually, no. Studies have found that it often causes us to feel stressed and overwhelmed. According to psychologist Barry Schwartz in his book “The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less,” he says that one of three things is likely to occur when young adults are faced with too many choices:

  1. They make poor choices
  2. They become more dissatisfied with their choices
  3. They become paralyzed and don’t make a choice at all

Brigham (2019) outlines five tips for millennials struggling with decision fatigue:

  • Address how you truly feel.

Self-awareness is usually the first step in most things. When we encourage ourselves to think about our feelings, behaviors, and emotions, we start to understand what is really bothering us, as well as what we really want. How do you feel about your current situation? What would you want to change? What are your goals? Asking yourself these questions can help guide you closer to making a decision that you feel good about.

  • Identify your options.

The next step is to start to brainstorm the choices you have and what outcomes they might lead to. For example, switching a job could affect things like your living situation, salary, work-life balance, and commute. It’s important to define the key factors of each decision and how they could affect your current situation. 

  • Identify the things you can control.

Although it’s okay to take risks, it’s also important to avoid choices with potential outcomes that you have very little control over. For example, you might be dealing with a difficult boss. If that’s just their personality, confronting their behavior might not change things at all, and could actually make it more awkward. However, what you can control is how you react to your boss’s behavior. You can choose to not let it affect you or maybe think about finding a new job altogether. 

  • Make a decision.

It might take you some time to figure out what to do next. Don’t rush yourself, but don’t spend too much time obsessing over your choices. It might be useful to talk things through with someone or even ask for a different perspective. Once you do make a decision, be prepared for the possible outcomes and make a plan for what to do if things don’t turn out the way you expected them to.

  • Embrace the uncertainties 

It’s okay to worry or feel uncertain, as long as you don’t allow it to take over your life. The only “right” path is the one that feels right to you. You might not always get it right the first time, but when you embrace and accept your mistakes, you become more confident about the choices you make in the future.  

If you find yourself struggling with decision fatigue, you may find it helpful to talk with one of our therapists at Symmetry Counseling. You can contact Symmetry today by calling 312-578-9990 to get matched with one of our licensed counselors. 

References

Brigham, T. (2019, July 2). I’ve been a ‘millennial therapist’ for more than 5 years-and this is their no. 1 complaint. CNBC. Retrieved November 17, 2021, from https://www.cnbc.com/2019/07/02/a-millennial-therapist-brings-up-the-biggest-complaint-they-bring-up-in-therapy.html. 

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