The only way to relax is to stop making decisions – Indianapolis Business Journal

One thing I didn’t know before becoming an editor was that the job is less about editing stories and more about making decisions. Hundreds of decisions about coverage, our people and our stories. Every day.

It doesn’t make my job very different from that of most managers. And frankly, it’s not even that different from what journalists do every day. They decide what to cover, how to cover it, who to interview, what to include in the story, and more.

In fact, widely publicized research estimates that the average person makes around 35,000 decisions a day, which just seems impossible – until I consider all the decisions I’ve made since I started write this column.

But I bring this up because what I’ve recently learned about myself is that when I’m tired or exhausted, the road to recovery isn’t paved with sleep or spa appointments or of a stiff drink (although that might not hurt either). Instead, the relaxation comes when I’m freed from making so many decisions.

This probably seems obvious to a lot of people. But it wasn’t for me. Not until last week when I took what was a truly lovely trip first to Asheville, North Carolina to see the Biltmore House, then to Gatlinburg, Tennessee, and Great Smoky National Park mountains.

The trip with my husband and my mother was relaxing. We stayed in the coach house of a beautiful bed-and-breakfast called the Biltmore Village Inn the first night of our trip and enjoyed a delicious breakfast including peach custard and potato waffles (not together). We strolled through Biltmore Gardens after viewing the house. And then we made the scenic drive to Gatlinburg, where we stayed in a modest condo overlooking a rushing river that rocked us each night.

Yet after many trips to the national park, seeing a bear, climbing the rocks along bubbling creeks and snapping photos of breathtaking views, I didn’t find myself more relaxed on the way back.

I realized it was because I had to make too many decisions. My mom and I have an amazing relationship. We have fun, she’s incredibly travel-friendly, and she’s hilarious. My husband is a pearl. Really. He’s kind, honest, and funny (don’t tell him I admitted it) and more than does his bit in every part of our lives. You couldn’t ask for two better travel partners.

Except they’re so deferential. Not always, mind you; it’s mostly a vacation thing. My husband always wants to make sure my mom feels included and happy with what we do. My mother is determined that my husband and I can do and see what we want. Its common refrain is, “I’m with you guys.”

So it’s up to me to make the decisions – when and where we eat, what route we take, where we should choose to stop and admire the mountains. And I understand why this is the case. I’m not as nice as my mother or my husband. I’m a bit bossy (just ask my sister) and tend to make decisions quickly when under pressure. (That counts when you’re driving down a highway trying to decide if the next stop might be the one with the bear!)

But making all those decisions is exhausting. And so, this week, I’ve delegated a lot of decisions here at the office, which is definitely the right thing to do, anyway. If you feel tired, you should try this too.•


Weidenbener is editor of IBJ. You can reach her at [email protected]

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