Anyone can become a victim of analysis paralysis and it affects many people on a daily basis. Analysis paralysis is the state of over-analyzing a situation or decision so much so that you never actually make a choice – thus stuck in a paralyzed state of uncertainty. I am the queen of this. It’s frustrating and ultimately debilitating when decisions need to be made. It often times causes unnecessary anxiety and stress. I mean a simple question of “What’s for dinner?” can leave me in this state. I over-analyze everything – that’s an understatement – and I always have but I have picked up a few tricks along the way that have allowed me to get past my analysis paralysis effectively.
- Determine the Level of Importance
We face tons of choices in our life daily – some big, some small. It’s essential to weed out the important ones and decide which deserve the most time and thought. After all, we are busy creatures and only have so much energy to devote in a given day. Decisions like “What should I eat for breakfast?” should warrant little time, while a question like “What apartment should I buy?” should be given more careful thought. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the fear of making a wrong decision that we forget how minor the consequences of the “wrong” decision would actually be. Don’t spend too much mind power on trivial things. When deciding what to eat for dinner I sometimes write out the possible meal choices on little pieces of paper, mix them up and pick one out. No need to stress over simple, everyday decisions. Leave the little things to a coin flip and save your energy for the decisions that matter.
- Set a Deadline
When you have to make a big life decision, it seems as though there is not enough time in the world to weigh your options. What if I make the wrong decision? What if I end up unhappy? What if I regret it? These thoughts can leave you absolutely stuck in fear. But being stuck is actually worse than not making a decision. Not making a decision is a decision on its own. When you don’t take action, you are voluntarily deciding to stay in this state of uncertainty and doubt. To ensure I don’t find myself lost in the indecisiveness, I set a deadline for myself. Sometimes a situation sets a deadline for you, like “Which job offer should I take?” but sometimes the choice is all yours, for example “Should I quit my job?” is a question that could last a lifetime. Although it may seem like you have all the time in the world, that uncertainty will eat you up. Set a “due date” for your choice to avoid being stuck in analysis paralysis for too long.
- Write a Pro/Cons List
When I am trying to make a decision about a situation I like to first visualize the end goal. I once was stuck in analysis paralysis over whether I should move. I was living in New York but had been contemplating moving back to my hometown in Nevada. I knew my end goal was to be happy – I know cliché – but the question was, “What would make me happy?” Or maybe a better question was, “What was making me unhappy?” I sat down and wrote the pros and cons of each living situation. Ultimately the pros of being near my family, better weather, and a cheaper cost of living won and I moved back to Henderson, NV. Writing your thoughts about each choice you face can allow you to clearly see which you favor. Sometimes just getting things on paper and reading it back to yourself can cause a moment of clarity. Write a pros and cons list when making big decisions. Rate each pro and con by the level of importance on a scale of 1-3. Then add each side up to see which option has the highest pro score and the lowest con score.
- Trust Your Gut
People often underestimate the power of intuition. As humans we possess a gift that can sometimes be hard to explain. It goes back to our wild instinctual nature. In this fast-paced, technology driven era, it’s easy to lose sight of those remarkable abilities given to us at birth. Often times we look at a fork in the road and immediately have a pull towards one path. It’s this unconscious pull that we must follow. If your options seem equal in their pros and cons, this is the tool that you must utilize. Trusting yourself is sometimes the hardest thing to do. We are so unsure of ourselves at times. Be confident in your logic, it’s usually quite accurate. I often meditate or go for a walk when I need to find that “gut feeling”. Do something that gives you peace. Do something that takes you to your “happy place”. Here is where intuition lives. Many people find exercising or listening to music a good way to free their minds. Find what works best for you.
- Choose and Don’t Look Back
You can review and review your options but at the end of the day you just have to jump. The good news is most decisions won’t kill you – I hope – and usually any decision is better than being stuck in analysis paralysis. Once you’ve made your decision go with it and don’t look back. Regretting anything in life is pointless and causes unnecessary suffering. Embrace the decision you made and start recognizing the great things that the decision has brought to you. I once had to decide between two job offers. Job 1 was a prestigious job with a great salary. Job 2 was of lesser monetary value but allowed for more flexibility. Ultimately I went for the flexible, more laid-back job and took the pay cut. After I made that decision I could have spent eternity harping on that fact that I could have more money but instead I focused on the gratitude I felt for the free time I was able to now have. Trust that your decision was the right one for you at the time. Life is full of choices, that’s what makes it exciting and constantly changing. Don’t regret a single choice as it has brought you either blessings or lessons. I am a true believer that everything happens for a reason!