There was a day when I was feeling stuck on a piece of writing and I thought to myself, “why?”
Why am I stuck? Why do I want to close my laptop and stop writing this piece? I’m almost done with it. I was becoming too much of a perfectionist with it. I was starting to have paralysis by analysis, and it was starting to bleed into other parts of my life.
If you don’t know, paralysis by analysis or analysis paralysis is defined as, “inability to make a decision due to overthinking a problem.”
I think this is a common plague among us today. We have our normal life. In our life that we can coast by and get through the day doing the same thing day in and day out and there aren’t any harsh consequences. It’s not the same type of decision a human would have had in the past, where your decisions could make a difference in if you starved or not.
We do this in our lives every day. We don’t work out until we get the right workout plan. Not only that, but we don’t read a book until we are convinced this is the correct one. In the age of information is the age of indecision. We hope that there will be something better around the corner. Some piece of information that will make everything ‘click’ for you.
It doesn’t exist. If there was truly a ‘perfect’ workout plan, then everyone would do it. If there was a ‘perfect’ book to read, then everyone would read it. If you don’t decide in what direction you want to go in, the world will decide for you and you will not like the world's decision as much as your own.
What are some reasons we experience analysis paralysis, and how can we address it?
Overcome Your Subconscious Fears
I have a fear of failing. It’s daunting to think that you will be horrible at something and that your dreams will be crushed. Occasionally it’s more comforting to think that you have potential and never used it than to see what your potential is.
Break free of this. You will wake up at an old age and regret that you never became the person you wanted to. It will make you bitter, resentful, and you will never truly know if you could have accomplished your goals. Your ego will tell you that you could have and make up excuses for you, but your true self will know better.
Facing fears is humbling. It’s frightening to put yourself out there and risk failure. Failure is how we learn. It’s the greatest feedback humanity has ever stumbled upon that something needs to be corrected.
Prioritize Your Decisions
I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve time sunk doing a thing I call “internet window shopping.” I’ll spend 2 hours looking for a pair of shoes that I want to make sure are perfect. Since I can’t actually see the shoes in front of me, that prompts me to check out tons of bloggers reviews. 50% of the time, I don’t trust the blogger anyway so I look for more confirmation to make sure that whatever I’m purchasing is the perfect thing for me.
80% of the time, I don’t end up buying anything. It sits in my cart, abandoned.
We have an endless number of choices to make daily. The number of choices can seem endless.
Start Taking Action
Realize that no plan will be perfect. The best way to get better at something is to actually do it. No one in the history of the world has become more fit by watching YouTube videos on how to work out. You become fit by actually working out. Start working out and if you feel that you need to add something, then add to it. Don’t go back to the drawing board constantly.
The fastest way to change yourself is to start doing something. Have you ever gone on a trip that was “life changing” and you were only gone for a week? Have you ever done something that was physically challenging and felt similar results? Acting on life is life changing. It’s the fastest way to change your mindset. It’s your body telling your mind and brain that this is what we are doing now and you better change with me.
Structure Your Day
I schedule my day out. I don’t schedule it, so I have zero spare time. I believe that everyone needs a bit of spare time. For me, when I get home from work, I want to relax. So, I try to schedule all my big to-do’s for the day first thing in the morning, like going to the gym and writing. You may be different and want to change it up.
The biggest piece of advice on scheduling your day is to actually follow it. This is essential. When you schedule yourself to go to the gym, do it. You need to build the foundation of the habit.
In Charles Duhigg’s book The Power of Habit he stated that the research shoes that habits are often built on a queue. So if you condition yourself to write after you go to the gym, eventually you’ll naturally just want to write after you go to the gym. Keeping some consistency and building things off each other is important.
Focus On What Matters
You know that stereotype that people who are creative are typically messy and disorganized? There may be some truth to it, but typically when someone who is really creative is focused on something, they are disregarding everything else to a large degree. They don’t care if their studio apartment is messy, as long as they get this moment to work on the project they want to work on. They’ll work day and night to get this done because it’s what give them meaning.
What we may perceive as disorganization may be organization to them. They may be organized in their work, but not necessarily other aspects of their lives because they have ignored them.
Break Free of Imposter Syndrome
Typically we have paralysis by analysis because we also have imposter syndrome. Imposter syndrome is where you feel like you’re not worthy or good enough to do something yet.
I experience imposter syndrome in writing all the time. This is because almost every idea or topic of something that I have to write has already been written on the internet. Almost every idea has been written on the internet multiple times over. True originality seldom happens. Almost all progress in civilization has been created through small improvements of an idea over time.
The best way I have found to overcome imposter syndrome is to know that there is one original thing, and that is your voice and perspective.
Paralysis by analysis is hard to break free of, especially if you are feeling overwhelmed. If you’re anything like me, you have plenty of interests, and that can make it even harder to break free.
You don’t need to buy another class. You don’t need to buy another book. Learn by doing, and there will be times when you won’t feel the passion flowing through your veins like you expected it would. Passion comes in waves. There will be some days when you are in the flow of things and love every second of what you are doing and don’t want that moment to end. Other days, you will feel like you don’t know anything and are wondering why you started this in the first place.
It’s how you ride those waves that make all the difference.