5 Ways To Stop Overthinking

Do you have a habit of overthinking things, where the detail and what-if’s leave you feeling overwhelmed and unsure about what to do next? It’s hard making great decisions in overwhelm, and while your intentions are positive – your overanalysing is simply using time and energy for no return. And no action.

The quality of your thinking will always drive your performance and results

We’re in fast paced roles, requiring constant sound decision making – it’s a critical leadership skill.

I’ve been working with John who, despite being a recognised high performer, struggled when it came to influencing upward. He’d agonise over an upcoming meeting with his senior leaders where he’d self-doubt his work, recommendations, and how he’d handle the meeting. It left him feeling stressed, disconnected from others and his brand was at risk. He realised that at the root of his over-analysing pattern was his fear of not being good enough.

5 ways to reduce overwhelm and increase your decision-making power

1. Decide to back yourself

You know you’ll put your best foot forward so be confident with that and trust in that. You don’t know what’s going to happen – but who does? Everyone feels self-doubt. No one is perfect. The key is to feel the fear and do it anyway. Believe in you, change your relationship with fear, and watch your confidence grow.

2. Get used to ambiguity

The only thing you control is you (who you are and what you bring). When everything else is uncertain, think about your past learnings, experiences and reference points to guide your decision making.

3. Stop gathering information

There is no such thing as the perfect decision, rather the best decision with the information available. Learn to discern what you need to know versus what you want to know. Don’t let your curiosity get the better of you. Be clear on your objective.

Remember, just because you arrive at one conclusion doesn’t mean you can never adapt to a new one.

4. Focus on the next step

Overwhelm happens when your thinking is confused, when there is too much to think about or when you create drama from the layers of judgement in your thinking. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking everything is relevant and important to consider now.

Instead focus on the next step and the learning that comes from that. After all, you climb a mountain one step at a time right!

5. Get into action – now

In the military, it doesn’t matter which direction you choose to go in when under attack, just as long as you move. Success is connected with action. Successful people keep moving and learning.

You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great. — Zig Ziglar

Bringing it all together

Being productive and bringing your best relies on your ability to make decisions that produce high-quality results by applying technical knowledge, analysing problems, and calculating risks. If you, or someone you lead, spends too much time in analysis paralysis then it will be costing individual and team performance more than you probably imagine. Getting to the root of what’s causing this thinking pattern is the first step together with one more of the tips above.

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