349: Overcoming Decision Fatigue through Reflection // Emily P. Freeman

Decision fatigue is a real thing, friends.

I’m sure many of you are like me, running around with too much to do and too many decisions to make. It is overwhelming! And it can easily feel like we’re on a hamster wheel that never stops.

Fortunately, I recently had the opportunity to interview a decision-making mentor of mine, author and podcaster Emily P. Freeman. Emily believes that regularly prioritizing time to reflect on the past will make our present decisions clearer and more peaceful.

This idea feels revolutionary to me: Looking back can help us move forward.

As a natural go-getter and busybody, I am inspired by Emily’s dedication to slowing down and practicing self-reflection. In her book, How to Walk into a Room: The Art of Knowing When to Stay and When to Walk Away, Emily says

If we don’t take the time to look back before we make decisions, we will “make our decisions not based on our gifting, our values, or what matters most; we’ll just make them to avoid pain, to avoid discomfort, to avoid disappointing others, or sometimes just to get the decision out of the way.” 

This quote struck a chord with me. How many times have I made a decision to avoid pain, avoid disappointing others, or just simply to get it off my back? This is a frightening thought! When I make decisions for those reasons, I end up running down a lot of unintentional paths, wearing myself thin, and drowning in decision fatigue. Like you, I don’t have time for that. I want to live with purpose and meaning. I want to live my life based on my values and my dreams.

Thankfully, I was able to ask Emily her three best takeaways for how we can start to utilize more reflection in our decision-making process, and this is what she shared with me: 


3 Takeaways from Emily P. Freeman on Overcoming Decision Fatigue through Reflection: 


1. Establish a regular reflective practice.

Figure out a day of the week, month, or even quarter that works for you, and set aside a few minutes to pause and reflect. Put it in your calendar if you need help remembering to slow down and look back every once in a while!  Ask yourself, “What has been life-draining and what has been life-giving this week, month, or season?” and do a bit of journaling to pull out insight into yourself that might help you make decisions going forward. In Emily’s book, she quotes Parker Palmer who said: “Before I can tell my life what I intend to do with it, I must listen to my life telling me who I am.” I absolutely love that quote and that insight.

I have to mention here that my Flecks of Gold journal is a great way for busy moms to practice the art of reflection!


2.  Look for arrows instead of answers.

As much as we’d all love defined, clear answers for the big and small questions in our lives, sometimes all we are going to get is arrows…little nudges in the right direction so we can take one step forward at a time. It’s easier to see those arrows pointing us to our next right thing when we pause and look back on our lives and reflect on what has historically mattered to us and who we’ve always been.


3. Articulate your values, and use them as a filter when you make decisions.

Your core values have always been with you, and reflecting back over your life can help you figure out what they are. If you need a bit more help with the process of uncovering your values, I’ve prepared a sneak peek of what I teach about this in the Self-Assured Motherhood program, and you can get that for free by going here.  In that exercise, I give you some reflection questions about your past and help you pull out the threads of what has always mattered most to you. Once you’ve articulated that, you can consider your values as you make decisions, such as whether to stay in a job, community, friend group, hobby, or organization you’re a part of.


After talking with Emily, I can truly see that while it can seem counter-productive to slow down and reflect when we’re so busy, the opposite is true. Taking time to reflect leaves room for us to make the decisions that matter most to us, which will continue to help us use our time with intention and allow us the freedom to live a value-centered life. I am committed to prioritizing this kind of reflection in my life going forward!


**To listen to my entire conversation with Emily, find 3 in 30 Takeaways for Moms in your favorite podcast app, or simply click the podcast player at the top of this post! 


>>>Are these tips from Emily P. Freeman on decision fatigue and reflection helpful? How do you practice reflection in your life? What gets in your way? What have your experiences been? Tell us in the comments below.



Related episodes like this one on Decision Fatigue and Reflection:


Mentioned in the Episode:


Get in touch with our Guest!

Emily P. Freeman is the Wall Street Journal bestselling author of five books, including her newest book, How to Walk into a Room: The Art of Knowing When to Stay and When to Walk Away. With a master’s degree in Spiritual Formation and Leadership from Friends University, where she serves as a Residency Lecturer, Emily’s most important work is to help create soul space and offer spiritual companionship and discernment for anyone struggling with decision fatigue.


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