A poll of 2,000 adults found they spend an estimated three hours a day deciding what to have to eat, what time to go to bed and what to wear and watch.
But the average adult admits to changing their mind twice per decision, with more than one in 10 (11 per cent) doing so five or more times.
Deciding what TV show or film to watch were found to be the most difficult decisions to make (37 per cent), followed closely by what to have to eat (37 per cent), what to wear (29 per cent) and whether to buy something new (27 per cent).
And 68 per cent find it hard to make or stick to a decision, with 36 per cent turning to their spouse to help them out, while 30 per cent turn to their parents, and 24 per cent rely on friends for support.
Andreas Michaelides, Ph.D., chief of psychology at Noom, which commissioned the research, said: “Decisions can be hard to make, and even once we’ve made them, sometimes they can be hard to follow through on.
“It takes a variety of factors like motivation, support, and proximity to existing habits to help build new, unconscious habits.
“But once you’ve established something as an ordinary habit, it becomes much easier to maintain.”
Chopping and changing
The study also found 63 per cent think some decisions are easier to stick to than others, with 66 per cent admitting they change their mind about whether or not to exercise at least once a day.
And 38 per cent claimed they spend more time deciding what to eat than where to go on holiday.
Three quarters (76 per cent) will chop and change what they are going to have for lunch or dinner and 80 per cent will struggle to settle on what to watch on TV.
And 24 per cent spend more time deliberating smaller, everyday decisions compared to the bigger and more significant ones such as buying a house.
But a quarter of respondents (25 per cent) admit they always or often make decisions they regret, with unhealthy food choices (31 per cent), not exercising (26 per cent) and not prioritising self-care (28 per cent) being at the top of the regrets list.
Having an extra biscuit or snack, going to bed late and drinking one too many on a night out are also among the choices people wish they had done differently.
More than four in 10 (41 per cent) also admitted to being guilty of making impulsive decisions.
Making lasting behaviour changes
Internal and external factors such as feeling tired (35 per cent) or stressed (34 per cent) and the weather (32 per cent) can all impact our health and diet decisions.
Of those polled via OnePoll, 44 per cent look for people with similar past experiences when it comes to finding a confidant to help them make a decision, while 41 per cent respectively look for trustworthiness or wisdom.
And when turning to others for help on making a decision, 41 per cent do so because it helps validate their decision and 39 per cent said it helps to keep them on track and hold them accountable.
Michaelides added: “Whilst it is not uncommon to regret some decisions — we found that nearly one in 10 Brits are not confident in the decisions they make.
“Science has shown that regret and guilt can sometimes be unhelpful emotions, making us feel bad for our decisions and about ourselves.
“This can then lead to us making more regretful decisions – becoming a vicious cycle.
“Learning how to let these feelings go so you can focus on the goals you want to achieve is critical to making lasting behaviour changes.”
Top 25 most difficult everyday decisions to make
- What TV show or film to watch
- What to have to eat
- What to wear for the day / an event
- Whether to buy something new e.g. new clothes or shoes
- Whether to exercise or not
- What time to go to bed
- To have another biscuit or not
- Whether to ask someone out
- Meal prep for the week ahead
- Whether to go out or have a night in
- What book to read next
- What dish to eat at a restaurant
- Whether to order takeaway or cook a meal
- Where to book a holiday
- What time to get up
- What social plans to agree to
- What to do for your birthday
- Whether to walk or get public transport/drive
- Whether to have a starter and/or dessert
- What time to set your alarm
Noom’s Andreas Michaelides’ advice on how to make informed decisions and stick to them
- Several internal and external factors can alter our resolve and impact our decision-making, including our mood, stress, tiredness and even the weather – causing us to make different choices than we might otherwise have. We might crave nostalgic foods for comfort for example, after a break-up or hard day. Recognising how these internal and external factors impact you and your decision-making is the first step to making truly informed decisions.
- Consider letting close friends or family know about any decisions you’ve committed to, such as exercising daily, or eating more healthily, as they can help to support you when things get tough. Only do this if you feel that them knowing will increase your chances of success.
- Creating new habits is often easier than changing old ones. If you’re looking to make some healthy changes in your life, start with some things that you’re not doing rather than change things you’re already doing. Creating new habits can build up your confidence to make healthy changes and can create momentum to change existing habits.
- Set goals that are important to you personally. A person who sets a goal of, “I want to be healthy” likely won’t be as successful as someone who says, “I want to get in shape so I can pick up my grandchildren.” The motivation around the goal is what is going to sustain you when things get challenging.