One problem that repeatedly comes up among my friends is Analysis Paralysis; the state of over-thinking a situation so that a decision is never taken. This is usually a personality trait connected with Questioners as defined by Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies framework. Questioners are those people who question all expectations and meet an expectation only if they think it makes sense. Besides being an inherent trait, analysis paralysis might also be a symptom of excusitis; that’s when you don’t want to attempt something new because you’re afraid of failing so you think that everything has to be perfect before you start and use the less-than-perfect conditions as an excuse for not starting. Needless to say, if you suffer from excusitis, even if everything is perfect, you’ll still find another excuse not to start.
The more I think about it, the more I realize Analysis Paralysis is a direct result of how our generation was raised. From a school system that’s heavily based on theoretical concepts instead of practical ones, to a society that expects us to make decisions based on what’s more secure and stable, the concept of experimentation doesn’t come naturally to us. Even if as children we were all about satisfying our curiosity by exploring the world, we’ve grown up to become more risk-averse.
The question, “I wonder what would happen if I touch this…” automatically turns to, “Don’t try that. You’ll get hurt.”
While deciding for a major to study in college, we probably made a list, went through pro’s and cons, spoke to people, did everything except try out a day in the life of the engineer or the computer scientist we were going to be after four years…and by the time that happened, it was probably too late to make any changes (though a lot of thought leaders might argue against that but that’s a discussion for another day).
That’s why the concept of a Gap year is becoming more and more popular with the newer generation. A gap year is all about immersing yourself in different experiences and figuring out what you like most and pursuing a career in that. The key word here is ‘immersing’…i.e. you need to take action and see what sort of reaction you get about your idea. So the main things to remember when it comes to dealing with Analysis Paralysis are as follows;
1) If you have an idea, take a page from Nike’s slogan and just do it. Of course, do take some time to think about your idea and analyse it but give yourself a deadline for the planning part and then execute even if you’re not ready.
2) Understand that whenever it comes to creative ventures, you’ll never be truly ready. The important part is the process, and opportunities will only start to open up once the rubber hits the road…
3) Learn from the process. There will be failures and some of those will be discouraging, but don’t let them get in your way. Use them as datapoints for your experiment and iterate your process to improve it.
4) Build a habit to include a timed creative session into your life; writing, painting, cooking, coding, DIY (engineering) projects. Start a timer, put your tools on the table, and sit down…A lot of people talk about how they need to be inspired before they sit down to write, but that’s usually not the case. You need to sit down first, set the system up to make it easier for inspiration to strike…It’s like that quote, “I write when I’m inspired, and I see to it that I’m inspired at nine o’clock every morning.”
Of course, you will have some off days, where you might find yourself swiveling around in your chair, or blowing bubbles into the air, hoping something – anything – would come up, but then again, that’s part of the process.
A friend of mine recently overcame her analysis paralysis and decided to open an etsy store for her art pieces. My personal favorite is this one;
Check the rest of her art pieces here; https://www.etsy.com/shop/coloryourlives
Featured image via pixabay.com/Peggy_Marco