Sara Pauff: Make your own decisions

March 12, 2012 

The headline was too tempting to resist.

Would you pay someone to make all your decisions?

Yes, please. Hey, it was late at night at the end of a long week. I couldn’t decide what to have for dinner or what to write about this week, much less important, life-changing decisions. Why not give the responsibility to someone else for a while? I clicked on the link.

It was really just an article in the Guardian about the rise of subscription services for coffee of the month clubs, music downloads and beauty samples. These clubs help you make small decisions -- what face wash should I use? what coffee should I drink? -- by offering you samples, supposedly freeing up your time to worry about the big stuff, like where to go to college, when to buy a house or get married, or who to vote for on American Idol.

Researchers say that making decisions constantly tires out your brain and the more decisions you make each day, the harder it becomes. That’s why you are more prone to eat junk food or splurge on expensive clothes and shoes after a long day at work. You’re too tired to care anymore.

It’s easy to get decision fatigue. For one thing, it’s an election year. Pick an issue -- global warming, the economy, women’s health care -- and there’s a candidate out there who will tell you how to feel about it. Vote for them. No, wait -- vote for this other guy, who says his way is the right way. The country may be in a horrible mess now, but if you elect him, that’s all gonna change.

You read the news, watch some debates (or just catch the recaps on The Colbert Report) but the more information you consume, the more confusing it becomes. Every argument from every candidate sounds the same. It’s a snarled mass of rhetoric that seems very distant from you and your problems, even though these powerful people could one day pass laws that affect your everyday life. As a taxpayer, you’re paying them to represent you and make decisions for you on a national level. Sounds important, right? So why is it so easy to feel apathetic about politics? Why do I have decision fatigue?

Before I tear my hair out, I’m reminded that 100 years ago, I wouldn’t have had the right to make my own decisions about a lot of things -- including who to vote for in an election. My path in life would have been a narrow one, focused on getting married and taking care of a family. No career path to figure out. I could have had opinions of my own, but they wouldn’t really matter much, because few people in power were listening to women.

March is National Women’s History Month, good time to remember the achievements of women -- all of which happened because they made their own, sometimes controversial decisions. They didn’t hand off the opportunity to someone else, because no one should.

Sara Pauff, 706-320-4469 or spauff@ledger-enquirer.com. For more commentary, read her 20-something blog at www.ledger-enquirer.com/sara.

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