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The energy cost of bad decisions

Lately I’ve been fascinated by what the energy cost is when you make a bad decision. Let me give an example. Before you go to bed at night you plan to get up in the morning to get some exercise done, for example let’s say a run. You’re motivated before bed so you get your running shoes out and have them beside the bed ready for when the alarm goes off. After a good night’s sleep you are woken by that horrible buzzing noise that tells you that the day has begun. You think to yourself, ‘I need to go for this run’ but in the same line of thought you contemplate the alternative ‘I’m still feeling a little tired, I might just push snooze and make the run a little shorter’. The snooze button gets pushed and you drift back to sleep. Ten minutes later the alarm goes off again and the mind battle begins, but this time you have already made you mind up ‘I won’t be able to do the distance that I was meant to do. I’ll try to get a run in tonight after work.’

Throughout the whole day you have overwhelming guilt about the fact that you didn’t get up and do your run. It’s making you feel a little bad about yourself. You’re telling yourself that you will try to get a run done that night but deep down you know you are feeling tired and the chances of that happening are pretty low. After work, you jump in the car and drive to the park but you drive past. You’ve given up, it’s not happening today. While you tell yourself that you will make sure you get up the next morning, on some level you doubt that this will be the case. You feeling you are losing credibility with yourself.

When you look at this example you can see how much energy was spent on not doing the thing you planned to do and that the energy that it produced wasn’t the kind you need to help you feel good about yourself. There are so many examples of the energy costs of bad decisions, like when you eat too much junk food, stay up too late watching TV or rechecking your email every five minutes knowing that you are just procrastinating.

I suppose the simple question to ask here is: What would be the different effects to your energy if you followed through the behaviour you planned to do. Let’s look at our running example. If, when the alarm went off you got up, put the shoes on and headed out to beat the streets how different do you think your day would be? How would you feel about yourself and what kind of energy would you get back?

Making good decisions can be hard, very hard, so next time when you are confronted between doing the good and bad thing maybe you could consider what the energy costs will be. This may help you make the decision that feeds good energy into your life. 

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Reader Comments (4)

It's like you are reading my mind - i find myself in that exact scenario more often than i'd like - it totally bugs me all day long!!

December 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRachael

I think this sounds a lot like CBT or Cognitive Behaviorual Therapy. A lot of individual sports people have to learn to swicth off the negative thoughts and overcome the hurdles they put up in front of themselves, including procrastination. I recently had a conversation about this in relation to freelance work as well, you know you want to do the work, you are really passionate about it, but motivation to get through without anyone else nagging you to finish and produce is the hard part.

December 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTracey

Just happened to me this morning. So, I was thinking about your blog and it helped to motivate me a lot.


December 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBao Trung

If I had read this yesterday, my decision might have been faster. I had a brutal trail half marathon race today but a close friend had a party last night. I only had 2 glasses of wine and I ate plenty to good carbs, but when it came time to leave so we could get at least 6 hours of sleep before the race, I just didn't want to go. The party had just got going and there were so many fun people! I decided to stay and my husband would leave without me. But as he put on his coat and said his goodbyes, terrible feelings of guilt came immediately. I said I had made my final decision but right before he walked out the door I raced after him and left too. I would have wasted so much energy feeling bad because I bailed out that the party couldn't have been fun for me. Even though the race today was darn near the hardest thing I've ever done, I'm still glad I did it. I did not waste energy feeling bad about myself for a poor decision.

Just thought I would share.

January 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRenee

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