Stop Overthinking and Start Making Decisions
One of the keys to successful decision making is actually making the decision. If you tend to put off making decisions while you analyze, contemplate, compare, consider, and gather more and more facts and data, you’ll probably drive yourself crazy.
Some decisions, of course, require thoughtful consideration. But some don’t. Among the types of situations that Brainzooming.com cites as deserving quick decisions are those in which the outcome won’t matter a lot, those from which you can recover quickly if they prove faulty, and those in which you can easily spend more money making the decision than the decision itself costs.
But even if the decision is important, overthinking and overanalyzing can be taken to an extreme in which anxiety escalates and intensifies and you feel paralyzed by not knowing what to do. In such situations, you may ultimately become unable to make the decision at all.
The solution isn’t to go to the other extreme and make snap judgments. But like snap judgments, even well thought-out, carefully analyzed decisions could prove to be the wrong ones. So part of making a decision now rather than in the faraway future is embracing the possibility of failing. By becoming comfortable with the potential that your decision could be a bad one, you free yourself from the paralysis and pain of overthinking.
This type of acceptance is important because, even though the decision you make could prove to be a mistake, there are potential dangers to overthinking. For one thing, it’s difficult to focus on your work or concentrate on anything other than the nerve-wracking decision to be made. Furthermore, studies suggest that a pattern of overthinking can impair problem solving and contribute to sustained sadness, pessimism, and negative thinking.
An infrequent case of thinking long and hard may be OK—we all face occasional tough decisions that demand this of us—but an incessant cycle of overthinking can take a toll on one’s psychological well-being.
If you’re a relentless overthinker, recognize that you probably won’t become a psychic in time to know what tomorrow will bring. Keep in mind that repetitively rethinking what you’ve already rethought won’t get you any closer to deciding. All the thinking and analyzing is useful only if it leads to a decision or action.
So take a break from thinking about the decision. When you return to it, give yourself a time limit to decide. If the facts at hand don’t help, go with your gut. Make a decision and act on it. Don’t think. Do. Get it over with and move on to the things in your life that you enjoy.