If You Are an Overthinker, Spend More Time Appreciating Your Results

Appreciate your progress a little more!

Thomas Oppong
Aug 31 · 4 min read

In a chaotic world, you need to recognise and celebrate those little victories. Appreciating your results in life and career is one of the basic principles of personal transformation.

When you recognise the progress you are making, you build confidence that gives you the strength to take the next step towards your goals. Sticking to this mindset helps you focus on getting results, no matter how small.

For overthinkers, this is probably harder to do because they strive for perfection. Anything less than perfect is not good enough for people who think “only the best will do.” Seeking perfection is a recipe for misery, stress and procrastination.

Overthinking is even bad for our working memories, according to research. When you overanalyse, the repetitive negative thoughts and self-doubt decrease the amount of working memory you have available to complete challenging tasks.

Studies have shown that overthinking lowers your performance on mentally-demanding tasks — the tasks that rely most heavily on working memory. In another study, researchers found that dwelling on your shortcomings, mistakes, and problems increases your risk of mental health problems.

Overthinkers are quick to criticize themselves, their work and choices. They are low to praise — especially themselves. They find it so easy to focus on everything wrong with their approach to life and living it. Even when they do achieve something, they discount it.

When you overthink, your judgments get cloudy, and indecision becomes a daily habit. Decisions are most difficult when you are uncertain.

To make better decisions, approach problems with an iterative mindset. It’s one of the best ways to break the gridlock of analysis paralysis. Viewing every decision as final raises the stakes, and causes you to get stuck trying to find the perfect answer. In the process, you keep digging for more reasons it won’t work.

“In contrast, viewing each decision as an experiment to be tested gives us the freedom to choose something quickly because we know we can improve upon it later,” writes Becky Kane.

Appreciating yourself is the best way to give yourself permission to make an optimal decision and keep moving. Whatever you’re overthinking — a decision, an action, a value, a social expectation — aim for good enough, not perfection.

Perfection suggests a state of flawlessness, without any defects. Perfection is a moving target. It’s an illusion. It’s like a race you can never win. You keep running and but the finish line keeps getting nudged forward.

Voltaire once brilliantly argued, “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” In other words, instead of pushing yourself to an impossible “perfect,” and therefore getting nowhere, accept “good.”

In The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are, Brené Brown explains, “Perfectionism is not the same thing has striving to be your best. Perfectionism is the belief that if we live perfect, look perfect, and act perfect, we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgement, and shame. It’s a shield. It’s a twenty-ton shield that we lug around thinking it will protect us when, in fact, it’s the thing that’s really preventing us from flight.”

When you appreciate yourself, it’s easier to appreciate others

What have you achieved in the past month? The past year? The past 10 years? Make time to recall everything you’ve done in the past that has got you closer to life goals. Despite the obstacles, you were able to make progress. Focus on those successes (no matter how small) and keep moving.

Success can mean stepping outside your comfort zone and striking up a conversation with a stranger, making that important call you’ve been avoiding, or working up the nerve to ask for a raise at work. All types of successes are worthy of pride.

Whist you appreciate your successes, review your processes, systems, values, and steps and do more of what works. Celebrate the things that are working and sustain them. This simple process can help enhance everything about you!

Self-acknowledgment gives you insights and awareness to move forward in the direction you want. Overthinking your mistakes, faults, weaknesses and failed attempts fills your mind with negative chatter. It robs you of the joys of life and the inspiration you need to take the next step.

“In life, typically, the only one keeping a scorecard of your successes and failures is you, and there are ample opportunities to learn the lessons you need to learn, even if you didn’t get it right the first — or fifth — time, ” writes Bernard Roth, author of The Achievement Habit: Stop Wishing, Start Doing, and Take Command of Your Life.

Win or lose, life must go on. Gratitude for your hard work can mean the difference between stress and happiness. Commit to acknowledging your achievements and give your brain the opportunity to build a healthy self-esteem.

Occasionally, sit and meditate on your successes for five to 10 minutes. Make appreciate a daily habit. Pause at some point when your day is over, and reflect on the little things you did for others and yourself. In many cases, you will realise that you’ve done something amazing, overcame serious setbacks, and made yourself a better person. Remember that feeling every day.

It pays to experience a flash of joy, pride, and enthusiasm about your life and work. Don’t overthink what has gone wrong or didn’t work well.

Appreciating yourself is a byproduct of healthy self-esteem.

Thomas Oppong

Written by

Founder at AllTopStartups | Author | Creator of Thinking in Models and Kaizen Habits | Featured at Inc. Magazine, Business Insider, Forbes, Entrepreneur, etc.

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