Are you overthinking it ?


Overthinking - Art of creating problems that didn’t exist in the first place.


I wanted to do a job that I enjoy. We all do. But the challenge is figuring out what I enjoy. We are faced multitude of choices every day. The part I struggle when faced with a choice. What I enjoy ? Or Will it give me the satisfaction in long term ? Hard choices in life appear simple in its face value. Should I take the job offer ? Should I invest in this ? Any problem if I sign this contract ? The hard part is to envision how they will play out in long term. Lot of our decisions are based on how you see the event vs what the event is. When faced with hard choices, the majority of us deliberate or do one of these,

  • We postpone, giving ourselves time to think
  • We dig in a lot to see if we miss any details and to avoid a bad decision
  • Second-Guessing ourselves
  • Drop the thing, on which the decision is needed
  • To get Anxious about how others perceive my decision
  • We have wounds from our past mistakes, and apply that to current context and hesitate.

Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman in his book Thinking Fast and Slow, there are 2 systems of mental processing. System 1 is fast track. System 2 is Slow Track. Fast track is instinctive and slow system is deliberate. You take your time to weigh in. People who are successful use System 2 in doing research and putting in hard work to gain knowledge. But on occasions fast-track their decisions after putting in their work. But they do trust their instincts when needed after deliberation. They resist second guessing themselves.

This is the antidote for the overthinking and being stagnant. Yes long term decisions need deliberation, but one cannot be consumed by it. Many are uncomfortable about uncertainty. It is hard to embrace it. Humans in general love things to be under their control. When we make decisions on something, there is a cloud of uncertainty in it. Increased uncertainty, heightens the overthinking.

Few things to help alleviate overthinking

  • Involving the key folks who might be impacted by the decision. Diversify the viewpoints
  • Seek Advice
  • Looking to split the main decision into smaller actionable decisions. These small decisions over time helps achieve the main one.
  • Time limiting the decision-making process. Meaning mark a date before which you should arrive at a decision. It is an effective method to curb the curiosity and avoid the Analysis Paralysis.
  • Remember there is always more information out there than you have at your hand at any given moment. You can adapt to new one in light of new one. Best CEOs out there avoid knee-jerk reactions in light of new information.
  • Entertain and be open to new ideas.
  • Lean into your emotions. Trust your instincts.
  • Know your biases. It will reduce the errors and mistakes.
  • Realize world is more uncertain than you think.
  • Take a broad view


Pick The Simplest Solution

When faced with issues that is around for long time, solving them we base our decisions on instincts. For example, we judge a person within few mins of interaction. Interviewer will judge a candidate within few mins into the interview. But Idea on decision-making and to avoid overthinking is to curb the instincts and sleep on. Break down the problem. Once done, trust your instincts. Find the simplest approach to the problem. This avoids people to stagnate.

Closing Thoughts

I want to reiterate, overthinking is a common problem than most think. There are researches and therapies to stop people from overthinking and eventual stress it brings. Being mindful about this can help people come out and live a stress-free life. Seeking help and taking smaller actions are key. Resist Anxiety and cross the bridge when it you cross.


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