Being a regular listener of Tim Ferris I often come across his idea of making 1 decision which avoids a 1000 other later decisions and this seems to be his favorite. Found this fascinating concept as human beings are wired to pick the least resistance path for any activity. If we could find this path of least resistance by making one decision and sticking to it then it is a concept worth thinking about.
Most impactful decision
After listening to this idea I was often thinking about it but saw the power of the idea play out in the last 6 months. In January I decided to start focussing on my health and made one simple decision – “quit sugar in all forms except in fruits”. The reason why I made the choice can be a topic for another blog post altogether but this simple choice liberated me from making 100s of choices .This choice also meant that I had stop all processed foods as they mostly contain sugar in some form (Corn Syrup,Fructose, direct sugar etc). Below is a sample set of decisions which I don’t need to make because of the one decision of quitting sugar.
- My snack choices in the evening are now narrowed down to – cut fruits and Subway. No friction thinking about what to order.
- Don’t spend time at the Supermarket to look and explore the latest processed food offering.
- Deciding if the processed food which I am buying is safe for kids. (I have 2 kids and one of them is 3 years, some packaged food have the warning that it is not safe for kids below 2 years).
This one simple choice has liberated me from making 100s of decisions and I am at peace because am taking the path of least resistance. This has worked wonders for my health.
“One strategic choice eliminates a universe of other options and maps a course for the next five, ten, or even twenty years of your life. Once the big decision is made, all subsequent decisions come into better focus.” –
One decision can be a rallying force
By making one decision many times allows you to build focus to your ultimate goal in a manner which is not possible otherwise. A great example of this becoming a rallying force is what happened with the British rowing team which finished 8th in the 1996 Olympics but went on to win the gold in 2000 Sydney Olympics. They chose to make one simple decision which helped in compounding their gains over time. They asked one question for every activity and training done- “Will this make the boat go faster?”. This meant that they cut down 100s of decisions which they would have made by focussing on one single question. This became a rally force to transform the team. Similar to the British rowing team I have now used the decision of avoiding sugar to becoming the rallying point for my new health focus in the last 6 months and have lost 6 kgs of weight.
Committing 100% > Committing to 98%
This brings us to a related topic of making such a decision and sticking to them. Pivotal decisions will also need to be followed up by 100% execution (with no exceptions) for it to give you the required benefit. Many people ask me if it is difficult to leave sugar and to be fair it was difficult for the first 2-3 weeks but after that, I felt it was easy. I noticed that it is the path of least friction now. This is because once you have made your mind on doing something then you don’t have to think of it and this means that there is less stress hence it becomes the path of least resistance. Even if you are only 98% committed to something you need to spend energy to actively think of what you need to do next and this can be quite taxing. This will eventually lead to you abandoning the whole decision because you would have to rely on your will power every time you need to make a decision. Over time you would lose focus on the decision and things will get back to normal. This is why it is best to stick to it 100% of the time
“It’s easier to hold to your principles 100 percent of the time than it is to hold to them 98 percent of the time. Decide what you stand for. And then stand for it all the time.” -Clayton Christensen
In conclusion, do keep an eye open for these pivotal decisions which will allow you avoid making a 1000 more decisions. These pivotal decisions once made will have transformational impact on your life. Once such decision is made stick it for 100% of the time to see your life transform.