SHORT TAKES: The Thing About Willpower

MARK ZUCKERBERG wearing the same gray t-shirt every day was once a hot topic of discussion. And when asked about it, he said: “I really want to clear my life to make it so that I have to make as few decisions as possible about anything except how to best serve the community.”

Zuckerberg also mentioned “decision fatigue” and how it’s better to get rid of having to make trivial decisions in one’s life.

I discovered the above (and a lot more) after reading ‘WILLPOWER: WHY SELF CONTROL IS THE SECRET TO SUCCESS”. It’s been a few years, so I can’t quite remember everything about it, but I’ll try to share some very key points.

Basically, willpower is depletable. As you go through life in a single day, the power goes down on your, well, willpower (much like your smartphone). It is finite. In the book, it is called “ego depletion”.

Hence, you tend to lose control of yourself towards the end of the day. You become less and less in charge of the decisions you make; You buy that kuih from the makcik when you’re supposed to be on a diet. And you become more irritated when it takes an extra two minutes to get out of the parking lot.

The book actually says that self-control too is a muscle. You can exercise it and harness more of it as you go through life. It definitely is not a lost cause.

Back to Zuckerberg, he’s basically taking things off the decision-list to save his mental energy on the important stuff.

Obviously, it’s something everyone can do. Decide what you want to wear to work the night before. Same goes with your route, where to have lunch etc. As you start the day, stick to the plan and “power up” when you need to chair a meeting or make a tough call on a business decision.

Cut the whole constant posting on, “Mana nak makan ni? konpius.” Which would lead to: “Baru tengahari, otak dah jam ni. Adeh”.

Try it. Gray t-shirts optional…

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