Ego Depletion 🔋

Is the active self a limited resource?


Choice, active response, self-regulation, and other volition operate on an energy model.

Executive function, also known as attention control, is the set of cognitive processes and mental skills that help an individual make choices and decisions, take responsibility, initiate and inhibit behavior, make plans of action, and execute those plans. Using these cognitive processes requires the excretion of self-control that eventually exhausts the single shared resource of the mind.

This process is known as ego depletion. As ego depletes, subsequent self-control is impaired, performance is lowered, and passivity is increased.

Studies have proven that the initial act of self-control and making responsible decisions impairs subsequent self-control, preliminary acts of self-control lowers performance on tasks that require self-control, and that initial acts of self-control led to increased passivity. If rest is ignored ego depletion leads to burnout, learned helplessness, and pathological passivity.

Ego can only be temporarily depleted, but in that state, performance is degraded. Which means the quality of one’s work and decisions suffers.


Ego depletion comes from American psychologist Roy Baumeister, who believes that enduring something stressful exhausts our capacity for willpower to the extent that we give in to our temptations that we would rather avoid.” ― Bruce Hood


Remove unnecessary acts of self-control.

Constant decision-making, resisting temptations, and calculating the future all pull from the same reservoir. Spend time to identify the thoughts that are worth thinking, the choices worth making, and the plans worth building.

Discard the acts of self volition that matter least to you to make room for what does.

Until next time,

Josh Duffney

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