How analytical paralysis can value you – in additional methods than one
It’s the beginning of a new year, and millions of people around the world are well on their New Year’s resolutions.
Unfortunately, many of these people will no longer hold on to their resolutions. I am sure you heard the statistics. Most Americans give up on their goals February 1st.
People cite various reasons for giving up their resolutions. It could be a lack of self-discipline, or even not having as much time as they thought, or maybe … they just didn’t bet effective goals.
But there is another reason that I think is often overlooked, and that I’ve personally seen many times – especially when I’ve set more ambitious goals.
It’s the concept of Paralysis through analysis or Analysis paralysis.
You’ve probably heard this term before, but even if you haven’t heard it, you probably know exactly how it feels. Sometimes there are so many options, so many possible paths, that we feel overwhelmed and frozen.
I’ve been through this many times. I could set myself a lofty goal for the future (or New Year), but there are so many ways to get there and who knows which is the best? In the worst case, this train of thought can prevent us from even getting started.
Whether it’s a new investment, a passive income goal, or just shaping up, here are some ways analytical paralysis can affect you and how you can overcome it – forever.
Too much analysis reduces productivity
The feeling of making so many decisions and not knowing which to make can seriously affect your ability to make decisions and get things done.
Think back to a time when you had to write a long paper for school. You opened a blank page, pencil, or keyboard. But then … you’ve probably sat there for many minutes with no idea where to start. If you’re like me, you probably gave up after a while and didn’t come back until the deadline was far too short to comfort you.
This is a great example of paralysis through analysis. The thing is, once you got into the paper (or any other project) things probably flowed a lot faster and before you knew it, it was done.
I also see it when people start investing or To attempt start investing. Buying a rental property, investing in passive real estate deals, REITs, stocks, mutual funds … there are so many different options that people are frozen there.
As doctors, we always try to make the right, demonstrably well-founded decision. We often look for multiple confirmatory studies or signs and a high level of confidence before taking a step. Unfortunately, the real world doesn’t always give you all of this data.
Feeling overwhelmed by the choice makes it very difficult to focus on the task at hand. The key is to recognize when this is happening so that all of your energy can be devoted to the task itself – without thinking about it. We’ll cover this in more detail in a moment.
Cost of inaction
Probably the biggest problem with analysis paralysis is what it can cost you. Too often we spend so much time wondering what would happen if we fail, that we just do nothing at all. But what could have happened if you had tried and successful? Where would you be now
These kinds of questions force us to weigh that up Cost of inaction. Don’t think about what could happen to you if you fail. Instead, think about what you will lose if you don’t take action.
Unfortunately, we humans spend a lot of time thinking about “what if”. Really, it boils down to fear. Fear of making mistakes, looking stupid, or failing. The key here can be seen Mistakes as learning experiences. Suddenly they won’t seem so scary anymore.
Personally, I’ve made a lot of mistakes along the way and learned a lot from each one. As long as you are moving forward, even a “failure” is a step in the right direction.
The only true The mistake you’ll ever make is waiting too long to get started.
So how can you avoid analytical paralysis and achieve the goals you have set for yourself?
Well, the most obvious step is to set those goals in the first place. Many people will set themselves vague goals like “getting in shape” or “becoming financially independent”.
These are good things to work toward, but it’s all too easy to just focus on your long-term goals, which sometimes seem so distant and unreachable that we lose heart.
Instead, make SMART goals – specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. “Getting in Shape” may translate to “Lose 10 pounds at the rate of 1 pound per week by March 31st”. This breaks that big, vague goal down into smaller, specific, actionable steps.
Not only will you be sticking to your main goal, but you’ll have multiple sub-goals to help you stay motivated in the short term. With these smaller goals, it’s also much easier to avoid overthinking.
After you’ve achieved these goals and broken them down into smaller pieces, there is only one thing left to do.
This is the last and most important step you can take. It doesn’t matter what resolution you set or if you set one at all. Imagine your ideal life, set your goals, and then work towards them.
Put aside the fear of failure. Make informed decisions, but don’t get so caught up in analyzing them that you don’t act. Even if you are not 100% sure that you are taking the right path, you can rest assured that if you change course or learn new information along the way, you can make course corrections.
So, at the start of the new year, take that first step. Make that investment. Register for a course. Show yourself in the gym. Whatever it is, start before you feel ready. Once you have achieved your goal, you will look back and be grateful that you did not wait, although you did not know all the pros and cons. Make this your best year yet!
Have you made a New Years resolution? Why or why not? Let me know in the comments below; I would love to hear from you!