Do you find yourself spending too much time pondering and not enough time getting things done? Overthinking is common, especially when making decisions. Overthinking wastes time and lowers your confidence.
The most successful people make decisions quickly and stick with them. The less successful take too long to decide and quickly change their mind afterwards.
(I was once so bad at decision making that I went to the library to check out a book on decision making. When I got to the check out, I told the librarian I couldn’t decide whether or not to read the book!)
You might think that you’re being responsible and cautious by taking your time to decide, but you’re shooting yourself in the foot. There’s no evidence to suggest that ruminating excessively on a decision results in a better outcome.
Make up your mind and get on with your life:
- List the advantages and disadvantages. Write them down. There’s something magical about taking pen to paper when making decisions. By the time you’re done, you’ll have a better idea of the right direction to take.
- Be aware of your core values. Decisions are more quickly and easily made when you know your core values. When you consider a choice, test it against your core values. Often, these choices aren’t the easiest, but are in your best interests.
- Remember that you can always change your mind. There are few, if any, decisions you must stick with until your funeral. Just knowing that you can change your mind later can give you the comfort needed to decide. It’s not possible to predict the future with 100% accuracy anyway.
- Avoid paralysis by analysis. Overanalyzing doesn’t lead to better results. It leads to inactivity and confusion. The Special Forces have a rule that you only need to be 70% certain to act. You might not be in the military, but the same general concept applies.
- Often, the window of opportunity closes before the last 30% of the information can be gathered.
- Think both short-term and long-term. Ideally, an option exists that satisfies both criteria. Ask yourself if you’ll be happy with your decision in 15 minutes and in 15 years. Any decision that meets both requirements is a great decision.
- Stay busy. Those that overthink often have the luxury of too much free time. Busy people make decisions quicker because they don’t have the time to brood over every decision. Be more active in general. You’ll find it easier to make decisions in a timely fashion. Exercise is one way to stay busy. You don’t overthink when your body is tired.
- Use your experience to your advantage. You’ve made plenty of poor choices over the years. It would be a shame to allow them to go to waste. Consider whether you’ve been in a similar situation in the past. You might gain some great insight.
- Use a timer to make decisions. Most decisions don’t require weeks, or even days, to make. A couple of hours is more than sufficient most the time. Use a timer and put some focus on the issue. When you hear the alarm, it’s time to decide. A timer is an effective way to narrow your focus.
- A good decision now beats a great decision later. What are you waiting for? Success is more about making decent decisions and working hard than it is about making awesome decisions. Avoid overestimating the value of perfection and underestimating the value of activity.
Avoid overanalyzing every little decision. You’re limiting your results in life if you spend too much time making decisions. Be clear on your values and consider using a timer. You don’t make better decisions by overthinking them. You just waste time. Use that time to execute your decisions. You’ll be more successful.