How to Identify Analysis Paralysis and the Best Tips to Overcome It

What does the term analysis paralysis or paralysis by analysis mean and how you can identify analysis paralysis?

Do you have one of these friends who might stand in front of ice creams for half an hour trying to decide what flavor to choose? Maybe one of those who try on several t-shirts, again and again, trying to decide which one to buy as if he is about to buy a new car and finally chooses none?

I don’t know about you but I can definitely think of a few friends of mine who do this all the time, even for the smallest decisions.

Analysis paralysis is what happens when a person overthinks a problem so much that it is not feasible for him/her to make a decision. This could happen due to too much information that needs to be processed or due to too many choices available. The person keeps overanalyzing each option without ever being able to pick one.

Although it is reasonable to explore the pros and cons of each option, especially when we are talking about major life changes, analysis paralysis does not only involve major life decisions but also small ones, like the ice cream I mentioned earlier.

For a person who suffers from analysis paralysis, all decisions are equally important and this is how they should be treated. This person worries too much about the downsides of every decision called to make. When a decision involves important for his/her life people it gets even worse since he/she is afraid of upsetting them, letting them down, etc.

“Thinking too much leads to paralysis by analysis. It’s important to think things through, but many use thinking as a means of avoiding action.”

Robert Herjavec, The Will To Win: Leading, Competing, Succeeding

Where Does Analysis Paralysis Comes From

Based on Psychology Today the root cause of Analysis Paralysis is anxiety. It originates from weighing an endless number of factors in a compulsive way while also thinking about downsides for all of them. As an outcome, there is never the best option selected because it cannot be identified from the rest.  However, identifying that the cause of analysis paralysis is anxiety can be helpful.

Our time is the time of information available about everything which means that we can do research about every decision we have to make in great depth. It is also the time of variety and unlimited options. Out of millions of available choices, how can you ever be sure you made the right one?

analysis paralysis - pen on top of notebook
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And this is where paralysis occurs. Out of our fear of making the wrong choice we keep on researching and analyzing the pros and cons. What we think is that the more we analyze the more confident we will become with our choice while what happens is that we keep finding cons for everything and never make a decision at all. In this case, it is important to identify that analysis paralysis has taken over.

“Analysis paralysis is an epidemic that cripples countless dreams and great ideas. Be swift, decisive, and always move forward!”

Matthew Loop

How to Overcome Analysis Paralysis

1. Identify Analysis Paralysis

People who suffer from analysis paralysis, think about it as something normal and this is how they are trained to deal with every decision they have to make. Identifying that they are overanalyzing even for the smallest things is the first step in order to overcome paralysis by analysis.

2. Evaluate the Importance of Each Decision

Not all the decisions we have to make are of equal importance. This makes sense, choosing what ice cream flavor to taste can’t be compared to choosing your next car or your next job.

analysis paralysis - holding chocolate coins on white paper while analyzing options
Photo by Nataliya Vaitkevich on Pexels.com

Ask yourself questions to evaluate the importance of each problem that must be solved or the decision you must take. Is it really important? Will it make a difference tomorrow? Next month? Next year? What is the worst-case scenario if you don’t solve the problem efficiently or if you make the wrong choice?

Answering the above questions you will be able to evaluate the importance of each decision.

3. Don’t Be Afraid Of Failure and Mistakes – You don’t Need to Be Perfect

People who overanalyze their decisions usually do it because they are afraid of not making the right choice. Wasting time without making any progress at all can prove much more damaging than making a choice that would lead to failure or a mistake. Both failure and mistakes can prove valuable teachers and can contribute to our progress.

analysis paralysis -survey spreadsheet being analyzed
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Trying to choose the best possible option and do everything perfectly all the way from the start is neither feasible nor realistic. Just accept the fact that no matter how hard you analyze each option whatever you decide will never lead to a perfect outcome. And there is no reason to.

Related: Successful People Are Not Perfectionists – No Need To Strive For Perfection

4. Start Making Fast Decisions

When it comes to small decisions a good tip to overcome analysis paralysis is to practice making them fast. What ice cream flavor should I choose? Give yourself a time limit of 5 seconds and just choose one. Worst case scenario you don’t like it. Your life does not depend on it.

These small decisions will help you start trusting your gut and making a progress in not needing to analyze each option. Trusting your gut is the first step in helping you gain confidence in your decisions.  Finally, feeling confident with the small decisions will help you gain confidence in making bigger decisions.

Related: Do Your Actions Indicate Lack of Self-confidence? 5 Excellent Tips to Boost It

5. Speak Up Your Feelings and Needs

Try opening up yourself a little bit at a time to the important people of your life. When a decision has to be made which involves one of them even if we do not wish to let them down or upset them it is also important to let them know about our feelings and needs too.

women friends talking about their needs and feelings
Photo by George Milton on Pexels.com

Those we care about are not there to judge each choice we make. Trying to avoid making choices out of fear that they will not be pleased by it is not a good practice. The others are important of course but so is ourselves. This is something we should always have in mind.

Conclusion

Analysis paralysis is another form of anxiety. It is important to identify analysis paralysis and from then on you can try to find ways to control it. Accept the fact that no matter how much you analyze each choice or option available you will never be 100% sure. Just start feeling comfortable with the fact that you will never know for sure. This is how it is, this is how life is.

“Be a self-starter. Do it now! When you don’t know how to do something, start. Beware of the paralysis of analysis. Be a person of action.”

Mamie McCullough

Resources – Relevant articles

https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/analysis-paralysis

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/fixing-families/201904/do-you-have-analysis-paralysis

https://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffboss/2015/03/20/how-to-overcome-the-analysis-paralysis-of-decision-making/?sh=701db3f11be5

64 thoughts on “How to Identify Analysis Paralysis and the Best Tips to Overcome It

  1. I love hearing new terms from your blog, and I think this is the kind of thing lots of people will experience at one point in their life. Choosing to accept that we don’t need to succeed every time is an important way to stop analysis paralysis x

  2. I’ve always known this as decision or choice paralysis. It’s also one of the reasons a lot of businesses limite the options they have so they can avoid and scare people off by providing too many options for people to cope with, and thus, not making a decision

  3. Smart tips here. I like how you mentioned that analysis paralysis is anxiety. Knowing that it is an anxious emotion manifest we can feel the fear in our mind to clear the anxiety. Clearing the anxiety instantly removes the analysis paralysis too.

    Ryan

  4. This is such a nice point of view! people always talk about taking time to make decisions but its also important to acknowledge when we are overthinking it

  5. I didn’t even know that was a thing. I just thought it was about being indecisive. Thank you for sharing this information and tips to overcome for people who are living with this.

    Lauren – bournemouthgirl

  6. These are some great tips that I try to practice regularly. Fortunately, I don’t always have analysis paralysis but when I do it can be almost crippling. I never know when or why I get it yet other times I can make decisions with almost no thought.

  7. As an overthinker, I need to work very hard to be confident in decision making and it can be difficult.

    Thanks for sharing this post. So helpful to other people.

  8. This was a really insightful post! I hadn’t heard of analysis paralysis before but I definitely recognise some of these symptoms in my friends, so this will really help me with supporting them. Thank you so much for sharing and speaking about another important topic <3

  9. This was so informative – I didn’t know much about analysis paralysis which is why I clicked on this post! You outlined some great ways to identify it as well as ways to help which is great! Thanks for sharing this.

  10. I know heaps of people this phrase belongs to. When I was younger I definitely had analysis paralysis, but as I’ve gotten older, I guess you know what you want and it gets easier to make decisions. I know one friend who was terrible at making decisions whenever we were in a restaurant. I was like the be all and end of of here life to pick the right food – lol!

    • I can totally relate to your example eith the restaurant. I have friends who do this all the time and finally complain about what they chose to eat. Thank you for commenting!

  11. I hadn’t heard of “analysis paralysis” before. But once described it was something very familiar. Fear of making the wrong choice is a tough hurdle. Thank you for sharing.

    Angel
    Embracing Change

  12. Excellent article! Whenever I find myself at crossroads, I usually follow my gut because I know that if I don’t, I will regret it. I overcome analysis paralysis by making a choice that matters right now and take responsibility from it and its consequences because I know I’ll stay above it soon. Thanks for sharing!

    https://lifebeginsattwenty.com/

    • In big and life changing decisions I think that trusting our gut is what gives us the true answer. Thank you for reading and sharing your opinion about it!

  13. I had not heard of analysis paralysis before. I know that I unfortunately have made quick fact choices and constantly want perfection for everything. I am trying to tell myself to slow down in making choices and to think before doing anything.

  14. I can completely relate to the concept of analysis paralysis. It has a good name to it that really rings and resonates in my mind, as I am guilty of falling into the self-inflicted trap of trying too hard and spending way too much time trying to be sure in my answer to a single question.

    Moving on (even coming back to the trouble question later) helps drag me out of the rut and focus more on the big picture instead of one tiny element.

    I love the way you cover this topic in an informative way and share some useful tips for people like me who need a little reminder about the importance of not striving only for perfection. 🙂

  15. I’m quite familiar with analysis paralysis. I used to have to get others to make decisions for me for fear of making the wrong one. But I must say, since starting my minimalism journey I haven’t had this problem anymore. There are less choices to be made, less decisions and therefore I’m less anxious! Really great post Eri 🙂

    • Minimalism offers simple answers to many questions and this is also one of the reasons I aspire it also. It was great to read your thoughts on this Vourneen. Thank you for commenting ❤️

  16. I had no idea that this was the name of that but now I feel like I understand my brain a little more. You’ve shared some great tips which I’ll for sure be putting to good use. I’m terrible at decision making so thank you so much for sharing this Xo

    Elle – ellegracedeveson.com

  17. Hi Eri,

    Very interesting article. I think that we all know people who suffer from this. Did you know that Einstein used to have lots of suits all the same so that he didn’t waste time overthinking which one to wear? 😉

    • Hey Richie!
      I think I have heard it about Einstein. No doubt he was a clever man 😉
      Glad you found it interesting. Thank you for reading and commenting!

  18. Great article! I hadn’t heard of the term before but it makes sense. I have seen many people around me having trouble for making small decisions. I can send this article to them.

  19. This is very insightful. I think my husband has a form of this, because he mulls over every product when we go shopping. I, on the other hand, just go – ‘I like this, I take this’. That’s how I picked my engagement ring and I don’t regret it 🙂

  20. Great post and so relatable for me! I do overthink my choices and get scared that I will be making the wrong decision so I procrastinate. It’s really tiring and doesn’t allow me to move forward in my life. It’s exactly as you say, I feel paralyzed. These articles help remind me that I just need to take a step forward and not get too caught up on trying to be perfect.

    • It is good to know that you understand exactly what I describe since it is something you are familiar with. I hope you found something helpful in this post. Thank you so much for commenting ❤️

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