When you experience fatigue or stress, you may not make optimal decisions anymore. Our work with the wrestling team of the University of Pennsylvania, led by Scott Rennie and Michael Platt, showed that wrestlers made decisions faster and faster, the longer they had engaged in highly intense exercise. This increased speed was associated with more errors in decision-making. Coach Roger Reina built on this research insight in his training by thinking through important decisions with the wrestlers well in advance before matches (“We would plan. What is our strategy in overtime? What is our tactic in double overtime?”).
This deliberate approach is valuable for daily life as well. If we know that we will be short on time or in a stressful situation in the future, we can prepare for this by thinking through our planned behavior and decisions in advance. Or… we can make sure to be relaxed and well-rested before those key moments.