I am suffering from decision fatigue. How do I know? I swore at the gas station pump. The F-bomb and everything…almost as if the pump was maliciously out to “get me.”
It started innocently enough. I let my gas tank get dangerously low. I knew I needed to pull into a gas station and soon. I chose the first convenient station in my path. I am not one of those people who will make a U-turn and cut across traffic to save a penny a gallon. If it involves only right turns, that’s my station, regardless of the price.
So I swipe my credit card, and then I’m asked to enter my zip code….no big deal. But then it asks if I’m a “Rewards” member. No. If I’m using a debit card. No. If I want a car wash. NO.
Then it tells me that my cup holder looks empty, would I like a Big Gulp? NO!!! “Just pump my effing gas!” I swear.
Sigh. It’s not the gas station’s fault.
Whenever I notice a reaction like this that’s out of proportion to the actual situation, I pause and dig deeper…what is the real source of my frustration here? It’s the hundreds of decisions we as humans (especially as women and mothers) are forced to make daily.
It starts from the minute we wake up. What will we wear? If we have young kids, we decide what they will wear and what everyone will eat for breakfast. If it’s a school day, perhaps we make a decision about packed lunch or hot lunch (and if we decide on a packed lunch, add about six other decisions as we ponder what to pack). There are decisions to be made about disciplining kids, and if you have multiple kids, you may need to decide on a specific strategy depending on the child needing “intervention.” Gosh, forbid we need to go grocery shopping that day…lately, I feel like every item that makes it into my cart needs to pass a self-scrutiny of laborious label reading and contemplation (am I contributing to the obesity epidemic by feeding this to my kids? Am I addicting them to sugar? Is this even considered “REAL” food?) Don’t even get me started on the bath and beauty products…
Then there’s what to do for dinner...who needs to get to what activity if they’ve officially played enough technology to fry their brains when I squeeze in a load of laundry or pluck my uni-brow? The other night I drove all three kids to the empty baseball parking lot before realizing it was cheerleading practice night and I was at the wrong field.
After making it to the cheer practice and through two hours of cheers that have burned their way into the grey matter of my brain, inevitably inching out other important details like the World’s Longest River or the 12th President of the United States or the Capital of Maryland (which is why I hate the game of Trivial Pursuit), some of the other moms and daughters and I went out for pizza.
“What would you like to drink?” the waitress asked. We decided to start with water while we pondered the drink menu. “And for your daughters at the other table?” she asked. This started a debate: "Should we stick with water or get them a pitcher of Sprite do you have lemonade?” We heard a shriek arise from the table of youngsters and decided on the water since they were already garnishing raised glances from the other patrons.
When she returned with the waters, the Moms all ordered drinks (of course), and I settled on a Blue Moon. The mom next to me ordered a Blue Moon but added, “With an orange wedge, please.” I didn’t know that was an extra detail you had to provide. Getting a Blue Moon without an orange was like ordering a Corona without lime or a hot dog without a bun. “Me too,” I interrupted. And were we ready to order? We decided on a pizza, but some mentioned a veggie pizza, others cheese and sausage, and others preferred no mushrooms so we sent the waitress away to make a decision that appealed to everyone. We finally decided on a half-veggie (and the non-mushroom lover graciously offered to pick her mushrooms off) and a Hawaiian pizza.
We beckoned the waitress back, and she had a few questions we hadn’t prepared for: “Did we want regular pizza sauce or BBQ sauce on the Hawaiian side” and “Would we like a salad first.” Regular pizza sauce and a salad sounded great. “What kind of salad…house, Caesar, and what dressing, and what about the girls…would they like some cheese sticks or another appetizer to tide them over, and would all of them be sharing a pizza, or would someone prefer a side of spaghetti?”
Again, I felt a fury rising inside, but rather than cursing, I ordered another Blue Moon this time, saying, “With an orange wedge, please.” This is all too much. I must do something to lessen the number of decisions I make each day.
It’s a problem I’ve had but not realized for many years, since having kids, in fact. I remember meeting my sister (who had no children then) out for lunch. She called me as I was frantically deciding what would make it into the diaper bag and wondering where my purse was or which route I would take to miss the lunch rush. “I’m here; what can I order for you?” my sister innocently asked. “Surprise me.” was my half-hearted answer into the cell phone that was jammed between my cheek and shoulder as I loaded myself down like a pack mule to make it out to the car. She thought I was joking. “No, seriously, order me anything off the menu and any drink; it will be a total treat for me not to have to make this decision right now.” Years later, she has three small kids of her own and “gets it!”
So I’ve started to eliminate non-important decisions from my life slowly. Here are some I’ve found most useful:
💠 I’m playing around with the idea of a capsule wardrobe.
💠 I’ve determined Fridays will be a hot lunch day.
💠 I will cook a giant breakfast on Wednesdays that can be re-heated long into the weekend.
💠 I’m a huge fan of themes like Taco Tuesdays, and when posting on Facebook, I’ve deemed Mondays as Menopause Mondays (eliminating at least one decision about what topic in Women’s Health I should share with the masses).
💠 The next time I go out to eat at a fancy restaurant, I’ve decided to let the chef decide for me!
I can already feel space opening up in my brain. Yes! Annapolis!!!! The capital of Maryland! Trivial pursuit, you haven’t seen the last of me!
P.S. There are also a lot of decisions to be made when starting an exercise routine. Studio or gym? A personal trainer or group fitness classes? Is the online format or in-person a better option? I would be honored to help you simplify these choices. Schedule a private session with me (in person or online) so I can determine which of my Women’s Health programs would be the best for you! www.carriekoziol.com