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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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