of Analysis Paralysis
By Theresa Rose
Have you ever found yourself endlessly obsessing over an
issue, unable to move beyond it? When dealing with a problem or
potential opportunity, do you ever have dozens of seemingly
unanswerable questions swirling around your brain? If so, you may
be suffering from one of the most common afflictions known to the
modern worker: analysis paralysis.
At some point we have all found ourselves in the crushing
grip of this dreaded condition where we simply can’t make a decision
no matter how much we want to get to the end zone. We convince
ourselves that we don’t have all the facts, the timing isn’t quite
right, something bad will happen if we take action, or we just
haven’t conjured up the right solution yet. These feelings of
unreadiness and unsteadiness cause us to squander precious time and
lose our peace of mind. What is the root cause of this
all-too-prevalent mental malaise? It is our own egos.
The ego convinces us that we haven’t done enough legwork
because of one reason: it doesn’t like the unknown. Imagine your
ego as a person who is deathly afraid of heights. It would rather
remain firmly, safely planted on the ground instead of jumping out
of an airplane to experience a thrilling skydive. When you are
about to embark on something new, your ego senses that change is
imminent; in its panic, your ego will betray you if you allow it.
It will plant all sorts of ridiculous scenarios in your head in
order to keep you from acting. In your quiet moments, it will
whisper in your ear that you will lose your job, home, family, and
livelihood if you make the “wrong” decision. It’s most fervent
desire is to have you frozen in fear until the wonderful opportunity
– whether it is that completed project, the fantastic promotion,
your big move, or the new job – passes you by.
Even though the ego is a formidable foe, it is not
infallible. Here are a few steps to help you move off dead center
and back into action.
Set the timer.
Give yourself a defined period of time to finish the process
of data gathering. Chances are you probably already know everything
you need to know. If you like, you can bop around in your cerebral
spin cycle for a few more days and pick up those last bits of
information. However, it is important to accept the fact that there
will always be unknown factors; you will never have all of the data
about a particular subject. When you come to terms with the
inevitable unknown, you can then make a decision based on what you
Listen to your
gut. What does your instinct tell you to do? What option
brings you the most satisfaction and joy? What feels right? When
your fear is no longer driving the decision-making process, you can
trust the guidance you receive from your intuition. It is the most
talented business analyst you’ll ever have at your disposal.
Ask for a second
Now that you have
an idea about what you want to do, run your arguments past an
impartial judge such as a trusted friend or colleague. Make sure
you don’t choose someone who is vested in a particular outcome or
who will tell you only what you want to hear. Present your cases as
if you are in front of the Supreme Court; make them clear, succinct
and convincing. Encourage your friend to ask you questions in order
to solidify his or her understanding. When you are finished, ask
for feedback on your arguments, both on content and delivery. Where
in your presentation did you have the most energy? Confidence and
enthusiasm are always good indicators of the most appropriate
Do a mental dry
run. Once you’ve decided on which path to take, begin the
journey in your mind first. Mentally play out your decision exactly
as you wish it to be. Fill in all of the details of the outcome,
including your feelings, the environment, the reactions of others,
the financial benefit, and any other positive result stemming from
your decision. Mentally replay this imaginary outcome over and over
again until you feel utterly confident in moving forward.
Take the leap.
Make a commitment to act by a certain date and follow through
on your commitment without hesitation. Rest assured that you
will hear the nagging voice of your own second-guessing ringing
in your ears. Expect it. It is nothing more than your ego’s final
‘Hail Mary’ attempt to keep you locked in a state of inertia. All
great leaders hear that same nagging voice, yet they choose to act
anyway. You can do it, too.
important step to bust through analysis paralysis is to adopt a
trusting, Zen-like attitude. Remind yourself that whatever happens
is supposed to happen. There are no mistakes, wrong turns or missed
opportunities. If you remember that, in the larger context,
everything occurs exactly as it should, you can cut yourself some
slack. Any outcome is far preferable to the physical, mental, and
emotional price you pay when perpetually brewing in fear, doubt, and
uncertainty. Isn’t it time to take off those cement boots and take
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