You’ve been here before and unless you change something, you’ll be back.
You’ve studied, learned, been mentored, and coached.
You know all that you need to know.
You’re so close you can taste it and you know if you take a bite, like a good restaurant, it’ll keep you coming back for more.
There’s nothing left to stop you from pulling the trigger. You cock the gun, take aim, and get ready to fire. Without fail, just like last time, you hesitate and drop the gun. You ask yourself, “Why?” but are unable to answer.
It’s known as Analysis Paralysis, it sucks and I suffered from it too.
Unable to ever do what my gut was telling me to do. Overthinking every single aspect of every single decision. It crippled my life, personal and professional, for 26 years. It all changed the day I bought my first Real Estate Investment property. More accurately, it changed during the days leading up to my first investment property. A very good friend of mine watched me go back and forth for months and asked, “Is that how you plan on living your life? ‘Cause if you ask me, it looks like a terrible life.” He proceeded to give me three words that I will never forget, “Just do it.” and those words changed my life.
Little did I know but at the time, Analysis Paralysis was doing more than holding me back.
Grace Hawthorne, an associate professor at Stanford University, conducted an experiment a few years back. She set out to find whether or not her design class heightened her students’ creativity.
“Participants in the study were placed into a functional magnetic resonance imaging machine with a nonmagnetic tablet and asked to draw a series of pictures based on action words (for example, vote, exhaust, salute) with 30 seconds for each word. (They also drew a zigzag line to establish baseline brain function for the task of drawing.) The participants later ranked each word picture based on its difficulty to draw. The tablet transmitted the drawings to researchers at the d.school who scored them on a 5-point scale of creativity, and researchers at the School of Medicine analyzed the fMRI scans for brain activity patterns.
The results were surprising: the prefrontal cortex, traditionally associated with thinking, was most active for the drawings the participants ranked as most difficult; the cerebellum was most active for the drawings the participants scored highest on for creativity. Essentially, the less the participants thought about what they were drawing, the more creative their drawings were.”
The experiment illustrates the more you think something over, the more likely you are to make a mistake.
“Satisficer” vs “Maximizer”
In 1956 Herman Simon coined the term, “satisficer”. A satisficer is a person who makes a decision based on some information regardless of how optimal it is. A satisficer will not look at all the routes to a destination and spend time picking the best one. They make a decision and drive.
Alternately, a “maximizer” focuses on getting the most out of every situation. They exhaust every option before making a decision. While the maximizer is thinking and planning about the route, the satisficer is already at the destination.
Some Swarthmore College studies concluded that:
- Maximizers are typically less happy
- Maximizers have a higher likelihood of engaging in “What if?” activities. What if I had chosen the other route?
- And maximizers are more likely to end up in a negative mood due to underperformance
What does this mean?
While overthinking things might create a better outcome in one or two situations, it ultimately leads to more anxiety and regret.
The good news is that with some work, Analysis Paralysis is fixable.
Limit the amount of consumed information
Marketers tell you that their job is to give you information so you can make an informed decision. I’m here to tell you to ignore them, the information is usually shit.
Instead of wasting your time reading 12 books, watching 10 YouTube videos, and going to 4 events, base your learnings on what you wish to achieve. What do you want in life? What does it look like? Does it include a family? Traveling? A flexible career? Figure it out and write down to every last detail. Once you have this, do it again. This time really focus on your desired outcome. Be extremely specific so that as you gather material you only gather material that will help you now.
Then read 4 books, watch 2 videos and attend 1 event.
Set a deadline and hold yourself accountable
Before you put your pen away, write down one more thing. Whatever it is you’re trying to decide on, figure out a deadline for the decision. Again, like before, be specific. I want you to know exactly when. Write it down to the last second, of the last minute, of the last day. Find someone you trust and give them the information. Ask them to keep you accountable to the last second. If you think even for a second that they won’t ask someone else.
Focus on the main objective
Now that you have your desired outcome and your deadline, impose the 80/20 rule on yourself. The 80/20 rule states that 80% of the results you get come from 20% of the things you are doing.
Michael Clouse wants you to, “Keep the main thing, the main thing.” and Robin Sharma coined the term “Brain Tattoo.” for anything that you must stick to and remember. I want you to “Brain Tattoo” Michael’s saying. Focus on your outcome and the deadline and don’t lose sight of it. Each morning and night, ask yourself, “If I remain indecisive, what will it cost me?”
- Personal development?
- Professional development?
Give everything you have to 20%. As you make your decisions, decide whether or not this decision falls in the 20%. If it doesn’t push it aside, it’s not important enough.
Analysis Paralysis no more
At the end of the day, as my friend says, “Just do it.” Although he may be sued by Nike for copyright infringement, he is right. The only way for you to progress in life is to get over your Analysis Paralysis and jump two feet in, give it a full-assed effort, and be 100% committed.
Instead of asking yourself, “What if I do?” ask yourself, “What if I don’t?
Cheers to your success,