What is Analysis Paralysis?

Analysis paralysis is a consequence of having too many choices.

Analysis paralysis is the state of over-thinking about decisions to the point that a choice never gets made and therefore an action never gets taken.

People who are prone to analysis paralysis:

  • Allow themselves to be overwhelmed by the available options

  • Over-complicate decisions even when it’s a relatively simple one

  • Often feel compelled to pick the “best” or “perfect” choice, thereby setting themselves up to fail by not even starting

  • Stay in research mode without taking action, until said research is outdated and new research must be done

  • Are convinced that they’ll make a wrong move, or wrong decision therefore stopping themselves from making any decision

  • Tell themselves that they are ‘bad’ at making decisions (which becomes a self fulfilling prophecy)

At the time of writing this blog there were 12,100 searches for the term ‘analysis paralysis’ a month. That means that if you are someone who identifies with the statements above, you are not alone!

A 2010, a LexisNexis survey showed that, on average people are spending more than half their workdays receiving and managing information rather than actually using it to do their jobs!

To me, this proves that one of the most impactful future success skills is the ability to process information and make fast decisions.

Even more important than it being a ‘right’ decision is a clear rationale for the whatever decision is made. This combined with another important success skill ‘the willingness and ability to course correct when necessary’ is what success is actually made of.

The thing is that with so much information coming to us in every moment, we must assume that Information will change. Life is made up of a multitude of moving parts, most if which are unpredictable and all of which will have ripple effects.

The key to making faster decisions, feeling confident in our decisions and avoiding the dreaded analysis paralysis, is all about shifting our attitude and mindset.

Here are my top 10 suggestions for relieving analysis paralysis:

1. Give yourself a decision date deadline

Allow yourself to mull and research and think, but do not allow yourself to do so indefinitely, give yourself a cut off point, and stick to it!

2. Get clear on the implications of taking action or not taking action.

Rather than just looking at information in the context of right and wrong, explore the best case and worst case scenarios for taking action and not taking action.Come up with a list for each and actually write them down. Seeing it all written down will allow you the data driven part of you to be able to process in a logical manner.

3. Get clear on your objectives and long term vision

Start with the end in mind. Filter the decision through the outcome you want to end with, not just from a intellectual and cognitive place but also from an feeling and emotional one. How do you want to feel? What action is a stepping stone towards that?

4. Aim for excellence instead of perfection.

Perfect isn’t possible. Excellence is. Excelling at something requires action, forward motion and showing up. Its’ not about getting a specific outcome, it’s about making progress. Get clear on what your best in this moment would be.

5. Let go of the stories, deal with the facts instead.

Many times the voices in our heads are linked to childhood stories, and unresolved trauma or pain that our inner child is yet to process. Getting some support in working through these stories, healing them and dealing with the facts will help you make informed adult choices.

6. Get a trusted opinion, talk it out.

Whether it's a coach, a mastermind group, a set of peers or a loved one, talking it out with people who can offer you a different perspective will serve as a pattern interrupt, allowing you to exit the spiral of analysis paralysis. Listening to a range of opinions will help you see where you are getting in your own way or distorting the significance or impact of your options.

7. Intentionally limit the information you consume

If you are unable to make a decision with the information you have, looking for more information isn’t the answer! In the same way vein as suggestion 1, limit the information coming in, and decide to JUST process that which you already have.

8. Have an iterative approach

Instead of assuming that it is even possible to get it ‘right’ first time, assume it will take iterations. With an iterative approach the objective is to bring the desired decision or result closer to discovery with each repetition or iteration. Begin with the creation, get feedback, implement, then tracking, make a discovery and repeat as necessary.

9. Start before you are ready

Ready, much like perfect is an illusion. It’s a distraction. There is no such thing. Just start. No one is ever ready. Begin now, you’re ready as you’ll ever be!

10. Choose to make the decision you make, the right one.

Understand that the ‘right’ decision is a choice. People who are successful have conviction. They chose to stick by their choice until the information tells them differently and then they make a new choice. Assume that your decision is absolutely the right one, live as if. Give it a try.

Things to remember

Real life isn’t perfect - Are you comparing your behind the scenes to someone else highlight reel? Are you comparing your first 1000 steps to someone else’s 10,000th?

Decision fatigue is a real thing - The more you go over and over the same problem the more you’re exhausting your prefrontal cortex - when you create ‘rules’ for decision making, processing can be moved to the basal ganglia, leaving more energy and capacity for creative thinking and most importantly; ACTION.

You choose where you focus -  Instead of focusing with misery on the dissonance between your long term desire and today’s reality, choosing instead to focus on the next aligned action. What does it feel right to do next? If you trusted yourself, if you knew that all motion is forward movement, what would you do next?

True success is progress toward goals that matter to you - This means that you need to stop looking outside, and look inside instead. The two key points here are PROGRESS (which requires action, any action) and knowing what actually matters to you. (Which requires personalised introspection and being REALLY honest with yourself.)

PS - Looking for your misfit mastermind to help you break old analysis paralysis habits? Check out M2M:365.
Just dipping your toes in this pool? Why not start with our suspending self-sabotage masterclass?


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