I know that feeling all too well. In fact, I spent about 2 years being stuck between wanting to explore a new career (and business!) and grieving what it would mean if I walked away from my 12-year career.
Some people are good at just starting things. They get an idea to do something, and they're off to the races– getting shit done. This type of person doesn't worry too much about the things they don't know yet, and they're eager to get going, learn, and keep going. They rarely feel held back and are not hard on themselves when they make a mistake.
And some people have the words best ideas, but they suck at starting things. They get an idea to do something, and they research it endlessly. They buy all the books, all the courses, listen to all the podcasts, and go down this rabbit hole of never actually doing the thing but learning everything possible about how to do the thing.
Then there are the people who are a little bit of both. If the mood and energy are right – they do things with ease. But the moment they feel insecure or unsure, they get sucked down the rabbit hole of information.
Which one are you?
What Is Analysis Paralysis?
Exactly as it sounds. You're paralyzed from making a decision because you're over-analyzing the decision you need to make. Instead of making a decision, you resort to making the worst possible decision: no decision.
When you're stuck in analysis paralysis, you think that all decisions are equally important, and every decision you might make is do or die.
Be honest: on a scale of 1 – 10, how often would you say you suffer from analysis paralysis in your business?
How often do you labor over how to do something? Especially when it's something that you don't have experience with? Or something that doesn't “click” for you?
I'm willing to bet it's a lot higher than you thought.
What Causes Analysis Paralysis?
Too many choices cause analysis paralysis. When we have too many choices in front of us, we can easily slip into analysis paralysis–and choices look different than just a buffet of options.
Sometimes, we're thinking too many steps ahead–kinda like chess.
Chess isn't just about the move you're about to make. You also have to consider that move you're opponent will make, and what option you'll have then. When you get too stuck in your own head, you start to consider too many possibilities and boom: here comes analysis paralysis.
You want to have the next move in mind, but you can't always play for every future scenario– especially if it means you don't play at all.
Sometimes, choices look like judgment. If we do this, what will people think? If I say this, what will people think?
Analysis paralysis can come from our fear of what people will think of us when we say what we feel, speak our beliefs, or decide to do something someone might not approve of.
But what if I told you people are going to judge you no matter which decision you make–so it's best to make the decision that's right for you and move on.
Would you believe me?
And then choices take the shape of too much information.
Too many podcasts, courses, Instagram stories, tweets, articles, books, masterminds, mentors, coaches, blog posts, freebies… (I can keep going!).
We've got too many voices telling us what we should be doing, and we get stuck wondering who is right and what way is right for us.
How can we overcome analysis paralysis?
Now that you know what analysis paralysis is and how it affects your productivity and ideas, I'm going to share 4 steps to help you get out of it.
Stop Giving Every Decision The Same Weight
Not every decision is do or die–and you should treat the choices you make in your business with the urgency and care they deserve.
Consider this: if you're weighing what to post on instagram as intensely as you're weighing if you should refinance your mortgage, you're giving a simple decision the same weight as a complex one.
Ask yourself if the decision you're hung up on is one that deserves reflection. Most of the time, it doesn't.
Don't Worry About Failure
You know that saying, “failure is not an option?”
Failure is ALWAYS an option–in life and in business. And out of all the things that can happen, failure isn't the worst.
In order to defeat analysis paralysis, you have to get comfortable with failure, because failure is a great revealer of what to do next.
One of my favorite sayings is action breeds clarity. The more action you take (regardless of whether you'll succeed or fail) the more you'll learn, the more you'll gain, and the more you'll know what to do next.
Limit Your Choices
Rather than thinking 7 steps ahead, think 2 steps forward and choose based on that information (remember, action breeds clarity).
Stop worrying about what everyone thinks, acknowledge that someone might not agree but make a choice to do what you believe is honest and right anyway.
Instead of listening to everyone, limit the number of people you learn from, and seek mentors who can help you where you are RIGHT NOW instead of where you MIGHT be 2 years from now. Also, industry-specific information is super important.
Through this process of narrowing down choices, you will discover that you already made the decision, but you've been stuck analyzing anything that you might have “missed.”
Make a Choice
You can go left, or you can go right. Everything else doesn't matter.
One of my podcast guests, Shannon Pilcher, talked about analysis paralysis or fear of making choices in his interview with me. He's a champaign skydiver, and through skydiving, he's worked with high-performing teams and top-tier military units.
When I asked Shannon about this, he said I want you to think of the saying, “I'm on the fence.” That's where we live when we're in analysis paralysis. We're hanging out on the fence, afraid to make a decision.
Instead of being on the fence, consider there is no fence – and push yourself to make a decision (whether right or wrong).
Exercise: Where are you experiencing analysis paralysis right now, and how can you limit your choices, forget about failure and make a decision? Leave me a note in the comments!