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Decision? Why Hungry & Tired is a Very Bad Combination


Lessons on applying scientific research to solve real life challenges within a framework called DISCIPLINE: [Decide] [Investigate] [Sort] [Conceive] [Implement] [Loop] [Intensify] [Notice] [Enjoy]

In the Discipline Strategy® book, I discuss the importance of finding your own path to your “best mind.” I use the term “best mind” to define a state of being when you are rested, at peace, removed from distractions, and prepared to consider an important decision. It is in this frame of mind when you should make significant life decisions. Once you have made the decision, you continue through a process of learning, planning, and implementing.

You should commit to decisions that you make while in your best mind and you should train yourself to not debate or reconsider the decision (obviously, there are exceptions I discuss in the book). Here are some tips and research references about preparing yourself to be in your “best mind.”

Research: The Stomach-Derived Hormone Ghrelin Increases Impulsive Behavior.



In this study, the authors show that food deprivation significantly increases impulsive behavior. When you are preparing to be in your best mind, don’t start out hungry. Eat a nutritious meal and feel satiated. If the decision-making process is going to be long, make sure you have a variety of healthy snacks available. Also, be sure to take appropriate breaks for meals.

Research: Status Quo Bias in Decision Making



In this study, the authors show that most people suffer from a status quo bias. This paper was written in 1988 and 31 years later the underlying reasons for this type of bias are still debated. All you need to understand is that awareness of the bias can help you overcome the tendency. Also, involving other people in your decision making, who will challenge this bias, is an effective technique to prevent it from limiting your decision making.

Research: Making Choices Impairs Subsequent Self-Control: A Limited-Resource Account of Decision Making, Self-Regulation, and Active Initiative



In this study, the authors show that making choices and exhibiting self-control utilize the same cognitive resource that is used for decision making. If you have a big decision to make, you need to simplify your life for a few days prior to the decision. Cut out some of the chaos, choices that must be made, and simplify everything as much as possible. Most importantly, never stack big decisions within a close timeframe.

Research: The Effects of 53 Hours of Sleep Deprivation on Moral Judgement



In this study, the authors look at a rather extreme case of how a long period of sleep exhaustion impacts the ability to integrate emotion and cognition to guide moral judgments. There are several studies along the lines of exhaustion and impairment to decision quality. You want to be completely rested before you make a major decision. It may even be worth postponing a decision, if possible, until you feel like you have had three or four good nights of sleep in a row.


I want you to get into your best mind before making a big decision. This requires preparation, rest, creating a comfortable environment, being well nourished and rested, and involving others who will support and challenge you through the decision process.

Big decisions are worth doing right and a decision is the first step in the DISCIPLINE STRATEGY®.

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