10 Ingenious Hacks to Stop Overthinking, Blocking Your Progress, Robbing Yourself of Opportunities and Sabotaging Your Future
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One of the most common problems in life once we start adulting, is that we stop taking risks.
When we were nine-year-olds, it didn’t take much more than a dare, and we were off on the latest adventure.
Skateboarding, jumping from high places, burning rubber on bikes or swimming out past the farthest buoy, it didn’t really matter what the activity.
And the more outlandish the idea, the more we wanted to participate.
Then we hit puberty.
And while we continued to be daring and irreverent, our attitudes now came with a tinge of self-consciousness.
We became more concerned about the perceptions of others and our social ranking.
We didn’t want to be made fun of. We didn’t want others to label us “stupid”.
We didn’t want to appear to be failures or “not cool”.
So we began to think more and stress more about our decisions and actions.
Then we became adults.
And as adults, we did as we were expected to do.
We started thinking and acting “responsibly”. Not doing “crazy” things.
We began trading “what we want” for “what is best”.
And we effectively stopped making any move without considering our options and all of the potential scenarios for undesired outcomes.
Mistakes became primary enemies.
Whereas when we were children mistakes could just be new adventures, now we were afraid of making a mistake, doing the “wrong” thing, embarrassing ourselves or failing.
We learned to scrutinize every aspect of our decisions, over-analyzing the probabilities of failure.
Considering what might happen holds people back all the time. You may find that you don’t want to take a risk because:
• There’s a good chance you’ll fail, and failure is “embarrassing”.
• You might not make the right decision and waste a lot of time and/or money.
• You might disappoint someone or alter others’ opinions of you if you don’t succeed.
At some point however, thinking over a decision or situation becomes counter-productive.
Weighing the pros and cons of any decision is always a sign of a good, mature mind.
But overthinking stops us from making the most of our time and opportunities especially when you want to make a major decision.
We end up becoming stuck in state of indecision that cannot resolve itself.
From buying a house to finding a new job, over-analyzing any situation or set of options can become crippling and force you into a state of inaction.
There is an infinite number of variables and outcomes that can be hypothesized for any given situation.
Trying to determine the best move or decision for an infinite number of scenarios is self-defeating.
It can’t be done. And most of the alternate scenarios won’t ever happen, and if they did, there’s no way in which you could be prepared for them all.
If you feel like you cannot make a call on something, and you keep returning to reconsider the same thing over and over again, it’s time to look at whether or not this is the right call for you.
10 Ingenious Hacks to Stop Overthinking
1. Be Ruthless In Limiting Your Options – Do your due diligence, research and obtain trusted input from knowledgeable and experienced people or those that you trust regarding the action you’re considering or the situation you find yourself in. Then choose only two (three at the very most) possible options. Allow yourself to make a decision or choose your course of action based on only those 2 – 3 options you’ve selected.
2. Identify 1 – 2 Pitfalls Attached To Each Alternative and determine a “worst-case” scenario. Then plan your course of action if that worst case occurs.
3. Once you’ve made your choice, fully commit to it. No going back, dissecting the circumstances and thinking about it again. Once you’ve decided, be done. Take your course of action and move on!
4. Expect to make a mistake, have a setback, fail at some point during your process, and prepare yourself for that. Why? Because it will happen. And if by some miracle it doesn’t happen, let that be the pleasant surprise rather than the other way ’round.
5. Believe in yourself. Give yourself credit and don’t underestimate what you’re capable of. Leave it to others to underrate or undervalue you. But you should always believe that you can accomplish what it is you’ve set out to do. If it’s humanly possible, then you have just as much chance to achieve your goal as would anyone else. Even if that statement is not entirely true, you should believe it’s true. Otherwise, what chance at all do you have for success?
6. Think of what can possibly go right! We tend to dwell indefatigably on what can go wrong. Try focusing that same energy entertaining thoughts of how things could possibly go so right that they exceed all of your expectations. Wow. Wouldn’t that be something to celebrate?
7. Realize that in most cases, especially if you’re contemplating a major decision, there often is no “right” answer. There’s only the best decision you can make or course of action you can take based on your present circumstance and the information you have at that particular moment in time.
8. Keep an attitude based in momentum and moving yourself forward. You can’t have momentum without being in motion. You can’t be in motion if you’re not moving. You can’t move without action. Overthinking gets you stuck; makes you still. That’s why the phrase “analysis paralysis”. To keep things moving and “on track” you have to make a decision and move on to the next thing.
9. Don’t marry yourself to a particularly specific outcome or result. Broaden your definition of what success or “winning” will look like in your particular set of circumstances. For example you may be searching for your dream home and find your ideal condo instead. Factor some flexibility into your expectations.
10. Remind yourself that change is always open to you. If you make a decision a 2nd the result of your decision isn’t what you want, you can make a different decision. If you follow a course of action that takes you down a wrong road, you can always adjust your course and take another path. No matter what you think or what things look like, you aren’t “locked in”. You always have alternatives. You have the power to make a different choice.
To my mind, the most dangerous aspect of over thinking is stagnation. Unless you’re moving and doing and pushing yourself forward, you’re never going to get anywhere. You’re not going to be able to make the changes you want or to accomplish the things you envision for your life.
And that will lead to discouragement and a state of constant stress and anxiety. Nobody wants that.
Get Unstuck. Don’t overthink things. Stop over thinking. Gather the best intel available to you, make a decision or plan your course of action, then get moving.
There’s a whole world out there just waiting on what you have to contribute. Be like Nike. Just do it.
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Kimberly Clay is the founder and creative force behind What She Say. She’s a business professional, writer and editor who’s been creating and managing digital content for nearly twenty years. Her work is now focused in the areas of self-improvement and personal development, and she is passionate about helping other individuals, especially women, to find a path for living their best life.