When did you first hear of “decision fatigue”?
Perhaps, like me, it was when the New York Times Magazine published an article on decision fatigue and you started getting emails from your friends and family with links to that article. In fact, you probably received many links, and maybe the term “decision fatigue” has even become part of your vocabulary.
That article in the New York Times is a chapter from a newly published book Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength (September 2011), co-authored by psychologist Roy F. Baumeister and New York Times science writer John Tierney.
Decision fatigue, or “ego depletion,” to use the original term coined by Baumeister, comes from Baumeister’s research on willpower and motivation.
His research has long been influential, particularly his findings that willpower, like a muscle, can become fatigued. And because willpower can become fatigued, you can’t count on it always to be available. But, like a muscle, willpower can be strengthened with practice.
Writers struggle with their willpower far beyond what you might think, particularly since you may have already depleted your reserve of willpower before you even decide to write.
Baumeister has found that we usually spend about four hours a day struggling with temptation and trying to engage our willpower.
So when you finally get around to writing, what have you got? Nothing? There’s a lot of nothing going around.
As a writer, how much do you depend on your willpower? If your willpower deserts you, what are your options?
What can you do to have a reserve of willpower available to you when you most need it?
I’d love to hear from you.
Nancy Whichard, Ph.D., PCC
Your International Dissertation Coach and Academic Career Coach
nancy @ nancywhichard.com