Is Overthinking Stopping You from Creating a Better Life?
Start improving your life today in 5 easy steps
What should I do next? What would be the best step to take? Would doing this be better than doing that? Hang on a minute, what if x, y or z happens? What would I do then?
Does this sound familiar? It definitely does for me. I’ve wasted so much time in thinking mode.
But, I’ve come to realize that overthinking imprisons you within your mind. It stops you from moving forward with your life today. You put off decisions, you don’t take action, and you stay right where you are.
Here are five steps to overcoming overthinking, setting you free to create a better life for yourself.
1. Take One Small Step Forward
If you’re not sure what to do, just take one small step in the direction of your dreams and keep going.
So, if you’d like to change your job, your first small step could be to update your resume. Ask a friend to help you. You’ll probably find that he or she will describe your abilities better than you!
When you take that first small step, you can’t possibly know whether it’s the “right” step or the “wrong” step.
But you can know that it’ll start to lead you away from where you are at the moment. That’s the most important thing.
2. Let Go of Your Expectations
Once you’ve taken a small step, don’t think about the possible outcome. Let go of your expectations of how it will turn out.
Performing the action is within your control but the result is not. You have no way of knowing how it will turn out.
So, accept this, forget about the step you’ve just taken and move on with your next action.
I know this is easier said than done. It’s human nature to keep checking to see if we’re getting the results we want.
However, unexpected things sometimes happen when you don’t check…when you just do what you can and let things evolve naturally. I’ve even found that, when I’ve put a lot of effort into one activity, I’ve received a positive result from another activity that I had let go of and forgotten about for a while.
Conversely, I’ve found that checking obsessively seems to stop me from getting positive results. The key is to let go and move onto the next thing you can do right now.
3. Take One Risk a Day
Often, we overthink something because we’re afraid of taking a risk.
To face this fear, start by taking just one small action that scares you each day and see where it leads you.
The key is to start with things that scare you a little. If something scares you a lot, the chances are that you’ll talk yourself out of it and not do it.
If you choose something that scares you a little and you do it anyway, you’ll realize that it wasn’t as frightening as you originally thought. This gives you the confidence to do something else that scares you a little tomorrow.
So, go ahead and book that exercise class you’ve been meaning to go to for months or make that phone call you’ve been putting off.
Just do it now, without thinking about it too much. Remember that overthinking has been holding you back!
Over time, you’ll increase your confidence and become braver. You might even start doing the things that scare you a lot!
4. Don’t Expect to Know the Whole Path in Advance
Often people who get stuck in overthinking want to see the whole path before starting out. I used to be like this but now I know it’s impossible. Even with the best laid out plans of action, life intervenes and takes us in a different direction.
So, we can’t possibly know what will happen if we do x, y and z. Or, if we forget about y and do something else instead.
Of course, it’s sensible to do some research before embarking on a new project or new adventure, but set yourself a time limit, so you don’t fall into the trap of overthinking and under-doing.
The fun is in the journey with its unexpected twists and turns. I’m learning to love the journey more. These days, I try to go with the flow of life rather than wanting things to be the way I foresaw them in my mind.
5. Be Flexible
It can be easy to get discouraged if things don’t turn out as well as you thought they would.
If this happens, tell yourself it might just take longer than you expect to see results. Or, it might be time to try another way of achieving what you want.
Be as flexible as you can. If new evidence comes to light that tells you to move in a different direction, do so.
If you’re thinking of moving in a different direction, do so if it feels right for you at this time. You can always change direction again if it doesn’t work out.
Sometimes other possibilities and opportunities appear unexpectedly if you start to move in a new direction.
Life is an adventure — experiment and keep trying until you reach your goals.
Life is also a journey and we learn so much along the way. We learn from the things that don’t work out so well and the times when we appear to have failed. So, don’t let the fear of failure stop you from trying.
Don’t Let “Analysis Paralysis” Stop You from Creating Your Ideal Life
Overthinking is sometimes called “analysis paralysis” for a very good reason. This type of paralysis stops you from taking action.
And, if you don’t take action, one thing is guaranteed: you won’t move forward. You’ll never achieve your dreams. You’ll never create your ideal life.
It sounds harsh but it’s true.
I find these words from Mark Twain very inspiring:
“Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So, throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream.”
Take the First Step Forward Today
Start moving towards your dreams by taking one step forward today.
Don’t worry if it’s the “right step”. Don’t worry if it’s a very small step.
This quote from Martin Luther King Jr. always encourages me to keep moving forward, even if I feel like I’m moving as slowly as a tortoise:
“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”
Whatever you do, move forward today, even if it’s just at crawling speed.
And don’t think about it too much!