Analysis Paralysis

Analysis Paralysis – How to Get Better at Making Decisions

When making decisions – particularly important ones – it’s normal to take some time to think over your options.

But, what if you can’t get the scales to balance when it comes to weighing your options? Instead, you spend so much time deliberating over your options that you end up making no decision at all.

Does this sound familiar? This kind of overthinking is what we term: analysis paralysis.

You likely struggle with analysis paralysis if you:

  • Are overwhelmed by possible options
  • Overcomplicate a decision that should be simple
  • Feel the need to make the ‘best’ choice and thereby delay until thorough research has been done on the matter
  • Have a deep fear of making the wrong decision and stalling your decision incase you make the wrong one

How to overcome indecision

Many of us have developed this habit of overthinking our choices. This can be overcome by setting new patterns. Try these five suggestions to make better decisions and conquer analysis paralysis – freeing you from being trapped in the endless loop of overthinking.

1 – Set a deadline

The brain is programmed to take the simplest path. When confronted with a difficult choice, our minds are wired to avoid it. Setting parameters for yourself can help you overcome choice paralysis.

When you have a deadline for making a decision, it forces you to stop overthinking and act. Determine a timeframe that works for you, factoring in time to conduct research and assess the risks.

2 – Consider the consequences

The goal here is to work out how a decision will affect your life, negatively or positively. First, determine whether the consequences are significant.  This will depend on how serious your decision is.

Ask yourself these three questions:

  1. How significant is this decision?
  2. Will this decision have an impact me in a year from now?
  3. What is the worst that could happen?
Analysis Paralysis

For example, if the decision will not have a substantial impact a year from now and will have no serious implications, it is a small decision. Spend as little time as necessary on your choice. Then relax and let go.

3 – Set time to research options

Bigger decisions may require some research on your part – so set a specific time in your diary for it. Procrastination will only add to your frustration and fuel your overthinking. That said, its easy to end up down a rabbit hole when researching things on the internet. With that in mind, set yourself a time limit for research and avoid distractions. The time limit you set, should be based on the importance of your decision.

4 – Talk things over

If you have a big decision to make, talking it over with someone may be useful. Receiving objective advice from a trusted person can really help with clarity but also reassure us that we are on the right tract. What’s more, you’ll gain a wider perspective that could enhance your ability to make future decisions. But remember, at the end of the day this is your decision – no one should make the choice for you.

If your inability to make decisions begins to affect your quality of life, personal relationships, or career, you may find that you need to seek professional help. Talking things over with a therapist can benefit you in three key ways. Your psychologist will:

  • help you identify underlying reasons or triggers
  • work with you to help create a plan of action to change these patterns
  • help you work through any depression, anxiety or self-esteem issues that may be contributing to your overthinking and indecision.

5 – Make it work

Rather than spend your time worrying you made the wrong decision or regretting it, why not funnel that mental energy into making your choice work? Know that choosing the “best” option does not always guarantee that things will turn out well in the long run, just as choosing a less-than-ideal option does not guarantee failure or dissatisfaction – but how you apply yourself to that choice is what really counts. Research shows that the most successful decisions are ones that the decision-maker remains committed to. We may not always make the right decision, but we can make the decision right.

If you are struggling to make decisions and analysis paralysis is leaving you overwhelmed, as point four highlights, talking things over can be helpful. Our psychologists will be able to provide you with tips and tricks on how to make better decisions and helping you to connect with your emotions and how those feelings may influence our choices. To make an appointment, click here or give us a call on 1800 327 477 (AU) or 0800 327 477 (NZ).