How to stop overthinking and make confident decisions

Our minds are a powerful tool. Our thinking and our focus creates the basis of our lives. From our thinking we get inspiration that fills us with joy and brings us new ideas and opportunities. What goes wrong when we start to overthink?

Overthinking is relative to the subject and personally I don’t like the term because I feel there is judgement in it. I don’t think scientists can overthink preparations for sending rockets into space. I don’t think that we can overthink a medical treatment choice for a child.

Overthinking becomes a problem when the effort of thought is greater than the benefit gained by taking the time to think. It becomes a problem when it stops you from taking action or achieving your goal. It’s only a problem when the thinking gets in your way.

So how do you know if you’re overthinking?

The simplest way to know if you are overthinking is to focus on how you feel. If you are feeling heavy or laboured about the thinking process then that is overthinking.

Thinking is a process that takes you to making a decision. You can get stuck in thinking when you aren’t clear what result you want or if you have no criteria for making the decision. When you aren’t clear on what you want then it is hard to leave the thinking the loop.

So how do you get out of the thinking loop?

To get out of the thinking loop you’ll need to discover what your approach to overthinking is. To do this you’ll need to be really honest with yourself. To be honest with yourself it’s often helpful to journal your thoughts as they come up. To solve a problem you need to first name the problem.

Firstly depression and anxiety are chronic conditions where symptoms are incessant thinking. I’m not talking about these conditions that would require special attention with support of professionals. I’m talking about your garden variety analysis paralysis.

These are some common underlying reasons that contribute to overthinking.

Fear of getting it wrong

You may get caught in a fear loop where you’re worried about making the wrong choice or driven by getting the choice right. Sometimes we can be driven by wanting to get it ‘right’ but we have never defined what ‘right’ is.

To get out of this loop take some time to write a list of the evidence you would see if the thing you are doing is working out just right, not perfect but good enough to do the job. The evidence may include how you feel. Let’s say you were spending some time choosing colours or fonts in your business. Your evidence may be that when you looked at the colour you felt the feeling you want that colour to inspire. That could be a spark of attention, a calm, a connection to nature or a connection to feel. Take a moment to feel pink, feel green and feel blue. Apply that to any topic you are working on.

Needing other’s opinions

You can get delayed in making a decision when you feel the need to seek the opinion of others. Sometimes that causes greater confusion and brings less clarity which defeats the purpose of asking others, essentially for help to get something done.

To get out of this loop you can have a date with the people you are thinking of asking in your head instead of for real. You might ask yourself “what would Jane say about this”. Even better get into the head of an expert and ask yourself “If I was (insert expert here) which way might I lean?”.

I’d also be clear on why I needed someone else’s opinion. If you need the opinion because they are an expert and you can’t move ahead without their sage advice then that’s a step in the thinking process. If you are hunting for input to find someone to agree with you then that’s less helpful.

Maybe journal on building confidence in decision making and discover any patterns from the past.

If you are going to ask for someone else’s opinion be clear on how they add value to the process and how their opinion is relevant to what you are doing. Asking a neighbour about naming your website is not relevant if they do not represent the kind of person you want to be working with.

Not knowing what you want

If you don’t know what you want then you won’t know when you’ve achieved something. That means you can get caught in a loop that you keep working on the same thing over and over again and it never gets done. It doesn’t get done because you were too vague about what you wanted.

To get out of this loop you need to be really clear about your goal. Your goal needs to be tangible and if you told someone else you goal they would understand it and be clear about the actions it would take to achieve it.

Often there can be overthinking about coming up with goals. That can defeat the purpose of setting up goals in the first place. You can help get yourself out of the goal overthinking loop by taking a ‘let’s experiment’ approach to setting your goals. That means you take a lighter approach and get more playful with what you’re doing.

Now what?

Life doesn’t need to be too serious and your thinking doesn’t need to be that hard.

If you like crystals then you may like to use a tiger’s eye to help bring calm and focused action when you next set out to do a task.

If you’d like help with building momentum in your business and having a clear roadmap to follow then ask me about my Soul Business Momentum monthly sessions.

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