As I was setting up my online business four years ago, I regularly experienced “analysis paralysis.” There was a laundry list of decisions that had to be made and seemingly 7 gazillion options available all proclaiming to be a “must-have” if you want a successful, streamlined business. I was researching thing after thing, taking free course after free course like a cat chasing the light from a laser pointer. It was exhausting.
It is emotionally painful to stay stuck in a place of indecision.
It’s like sitting in quicksand while your mind kicks into overdrive, running through every possible scenario and outcome. I look back now and marvel at the level of unnecessary stress I put myself through. Not to mention the wasted amount of time and energy. When you get into a state of over-analyzing things, it brings heaviness and anxiousness along with it.
There’s a scientific reason for this: stress releases cortisol which puts us in “fight or flight” mode. This makes every decision seem like it’s much bigger than it is. I was making even insignificant decisions seem crucial. For example, feeling as if my whole business would fail if I picked the wrong website platform to use. Or approaching writing a simple blog post as if it was going to be published in a scientific journal. Stressing about the topic, the title, what I would include. Worrying that it wouldn’t be value-added enough to help anyone.
Fortunately, what I had heard my mentor say a few times finally clicked: “Done is better than perfect.”
So simple. Just make a decision and move forward. Over-analyzing and taking no action is far worse than the consequences of a decision that moves you forward.
Any progress is progress.
When I catch myself doing this, I stop, take a few deep breaths and ask myself some, or all, of these questions (depending on the situation). Often just this first question is enough to course-correct. If it’s something simple like “this vs. that”, I follow my gut and choose one. It immediately feels like a weight lifts, and I am more focused and relaxed.
Tips for Making a Quicker Decisions
- Am I making this into something bigger than it needs to be?
- Is this going to make my life better?
- Can I do it on my own, or do I need support? If I think I can do it on my own, I ask a follow-up question: “why then, haven’t you done it already?” Most of us have been conditioned to believe that we should be able to handle everything on our own. I’ve learned that asking for help and getting myself the right support accelerated my progress. And made for a much more joyful experience!
- What’s the worst thing that could happen if I do this? To put it in more context: no one is going to be physically harmed, right? And I also remind myself that most decisions are not permanent. We can change course along the way, contrary to what we often let ourselves believe. As my husband says “just try something and if it doesn’t work, try something else.” (Can you tell he’s Australian??)
- What will happen if I don’t do this? The answer is usually that you’ll be stuck in the same place. Trying something new, despite how scary it can be, is always better than wondering if you could have.
Too often we hold ourselves back with excuses and fear of failure. Keep in mind, some of the most successful people in the world say that their success came after failures. That’s where they learned the most.
We’ve got just this one life–BE BOLD!