There is a well-known saying that goes – A failure to plan is a plan for failure. We all know how essential planning is for our success. However, too much time spent on thinking and planning can also be detrimental to achieving our goals.
While it is completely normal to set aside some time for planning, too much of it can affect your productivity. Take, for example, a project you have at home where you want to paint an old cupboard. There is a big difference between opening the paint tin and starting to paint, to thinking about all the possible things you can use it for when it is finished.
If you keep planning on how you will paint it, what color you will choose, where you will place it, what you will use it for, it will never get done. At some point, you have to pick up the brush and paint.
The same thing goes for our other goals in life – whether big or small. Taking too much time overthinking and planning takes away your precious time and energy for actualizing your goals.
Overthinking can lead to difficulties in making important decisions and eventually to inaction. When we become too preoccupied with our thoughts, questions, and never-ending ‘what ifs,’ we miss valuable opportunities that can take us one step closer to our success.
How to Stop Overthinking
Tune In to Your Thoughts
Being aware of your thoughts is a significant step to stopping overthinking. When you become more in tune with your thoughts, you can recognize the things that can trigger obsessive thinking, making it easier to catch yourself if overthinking kicks in.
Because our thoughts are so powerful, what we think can have a significant effect on our behavior. For example, anxious and fearful thoughts can trigger us to overthink the bad things that may happen. However, when we become more aware of our thoughts, we can neutralize those thoughts and even challenge them, enabling us to take action.
Let Go of Perfectionism
Overthinking often stems from our need to be perfect all the time. While there is nothing wrong with having the desire to do things with excellence, you also have to realize that perfection does not exist. What may be perfect for you may not be perfect for someone else. There are so many different factors that will determine anyone’s success.
Wanting to do things correctly is different from wanting things to be done perfectly. When we start to overthink our desire to be perfect, we lose the opportunity to learn from our mistakes. We also do not get to grow as a person because we avoid failing at all costs. Remember it is not wrong to want things to be done accordingly. However, if it is leading you not to accomplish anything, maybe it is time to let go of your perfectionist tendencies.
Set a Time Limit
When making important decisions, you want to make sure that you cover all your bases before making your choice. Otherwise, if you start to overthink it all you could end up stuck in limbo. Overthinking can lead to analysis paralysis, where you cannot come up with a decision because of all your worries and anxieties.
One way to deal with overthinking and analysis paralysis is to give yourself a set amount of time to study your options and eventually decide. Setting a time limit gives us time to think without wasting too many minutes over being indecisive.
Focus On Things You Can Control
You may find yourself worrying and being anxious over the things you have no control over. For this reason, you may tend to overthink and spend too much time planning and lose sight of the things that you can control.
Taking control also means taking action, as we do have control of the things we do. By shifting your focus to what you can take charge of, you also begin taking action towards your goal. For example, if you are struggling financially, instead of worrying continually about rising prices, start making changes in your lifestyle to help you stretch your finances.
Take Small Steps
Another way to combat analysis paralysis and overthinking is to take small steps. It is natural to feel overwhelmed when faced with a monumental decision that you need to undertake. However, you don’t have to make a huge decision in one go.
Instead, you can start taking small steps or make minor, low-risk decisions that will lead up to the main one. Then, as you gain momentum, you will also become more skilled and confident in yourself and your decision-making.
Overthinking leads to inaction. Too much planning can actually ruin the best ideas. While we all agree that a certain degree of planning is required to achieve success, too much can slow or even stop our progress. At some point, you just have to take that first step even if it is a small one!