On the day to day and throughout our lives, we’re constantly flooded with choices. From small decisions like what to eat for breakfast, to more complex decisions, like what job opportunity to take, we’re constantly trying to make the best decisions for ourselves. Some decisions are easier to make, while others can seem impossible. Although it’s good to take your time and be thoughtful when making important decisions, there’s also a point where overthinking becomes detrimental and paralyzes you from making any decision at all. If you want to know how to overcome analysis paralysis, check out 7 tips that will help you make decisions faster and feel confident about them.
What is Analysis Paralysis?
Analysis paralysis is when you’re unable to make a decision due to overthinking a problem. This often happens when there’s an abundance of choice or if you’re dealing with too many variables, and as a result you continue to research solutions rather than making a decision.
It can feel extremely confusing and overwhelming as you try to consider different viewpoints, pros and cons, potential outcomes, various pieces of information and even other peoples’ opinions. As you become more confused, you start feeling as though making a confident decision is impossible.
Analysis paralysis can lead to stress, anxiety, frustration, fatigue, lack of productivity and lack of sleep. You may even experience sweating, shallow breathing, and a rapid heart rate during times of analysis paralysis.
What Causes Analysis Paralysis?
Anxiety is the root cause of analysis paralysis, and in this case, the anxiety comes from the fear of making the wrong decision. Sometimes, there’s not one clear answer, which makes it even trickier to make a decision when you have analysis paralysis.
For example, let’s say your friends are coming in from out of town and you want to impress them with a nice dinner out. You have to consider everyone’s personal preferences, the cuisines you all like, dietary restrictions, the vibe of the restaurant, etc.
There’s no one “correct” restaurant to pick, and weighing all these options can be extremely anxiety-inducing. Sometimes we think the more options we have the better, but in many cases, it actually leads to greater indecision, anxiety and dissatisfaction.
There are certain traits that contribute to analysis paralysis. These include perfectionism, people-pleasing, empathy, lack of confidence and rigid thinking. If you have any of these traits, you may be more likely to find yourself in a state of analysis paralysis more easily.
Technology and our virtually unlimited access to information has also seemed to make analysis paralysis worse. This access to increased choice can skyrocket our fear of making the wrong decision and leads to higher anxiety, indecision, paralysis and dissatisfaction.
How to Overcome Analysis Paralysis
1. Create a Deadline
If you’re having trouble making a decision, set a deadline for yourself for when the decision needs to be made. If there’s no timeline, it’s easy to spend a significant amount of time ruminating on the different choices, doing more research, and ultimately never making a decision.
2. Narrow Down Your Options
If you’re bogged down by a ton of options that are making it hard for you to make a decision, get rid of some right away. Using the restaurant example from above, choose a certain cuisine and eliminate the rest. Let’s say you decide on Italian cuisine. Now, instead of having to choose between all the restaurants in the city, you’re choosing between the Italian restaurants in the city. This will narrow your options and make it easier to make a decision.
3. Stop Asking for Other Peoples’ Opinions
Unless you feel like you really need advice from someone, try not to ask for other peoples’ opinions. This can sway you and make it harder to stick to a decision you feel strongly about. It’s likely you have all the information you need to make the decision, and the opinions of others are just going to get in the way. Make an intentional choice to stop asking people what they think or what they would do.
4. Give Yourself a Break
If you notice you’re overthinking a decision, give yourself some distance from the problem and take a break. Let your mind rest and focus on something else. Read a book, go for a walk and listen to a podcast, or work on something else. Just try your best not to think about the problem or situation. After time away, you may find the decision easier to make since you’re coming at it with a clearer mind.
5. Limit Your Research
Too much information can make your decision more difficult to make. If you’re having trouble deciding on something, consider limiting the amount of research you do to prevent overthinking. Try to keep it as simple as possible and once you have the basic information you need, try to make the decision right away. The more research you do, the more details you have, which may not even be important, but will make your decision more confusing.
6. Make Quick Decisions
Train your brain to be more decisive to help relieve you of decision-making paralysis. Any decision you make during the day, whether it’s what to wear that day or what to make for dinner, try to make it as quickly as possible. This will give you more confidence in making good decisions and help you make them faster without overthinking. When it comes time to making a bigger decision, look at each option one last time and then make your final decision.
7. Put Perfectionism Aside
Unless you’re making a life-altering decision, just remember that it’s not that serious. Every decision has its pros and cons and trying to make the “perfect” decision will just hold you back. Weigh your options and take some time, but in the end remember that it’s fine to make a decision that’s “good enough”. Making the decision is the goal in itself and it doesn’t help to waste your time overthinking.
Analysis paralysis can be super overwhelming, but there are ways to overcome it. Try our tips above to help stop overthinking so much!
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