You know the drill. It's that exhausting, never-ending spiral of 'what-ifs' that our brains love to get caught up in.
Leadership is a dance of confidence, decisiveness, and intuition. The rhythm of this dance is disrupted when we allow ourselves to become consumed with overthinking every decision or worrying about every step. In life, just like in dance, there's a time to think, a time to act, a time to reflect, and a time to gracefully move forward.
Overthinking, however, can be like a stumble in your dance routine - it keeps you stuck in a cycle of inaction, transforming healthy reflection into debilitating worry. Instead of propelling us forward, it pulls us back, leading us down a spiral of self-doubt.
In my 35 years as a coach, I've guided many individuals who often find themselves caught in the web of overthinking. Allow me to share 11 mental strategies to break free from the bonds of over analysis:
- Keep the door closed until new information knocks.
Don’t allow overthinking to take control by constantly revisiting decisions you've made. Trust in your judgement and only reconsider when new information comes to light.
- Know the difference between problem-solving and overthinking.
Overthinking often masquerades as problem-solving, making you feel productive when in reality, you're just spinning in circles. Recognise this trap and push yourself to move forward.
- Embrace the 90-10 rule.
Base 90% of your self-worth on self-acceptance and self-appreciation, leaving only 10% for external validation. Overthinkers often reverse this formula, causing unnecessary worry and overthinking.
- Presume good intentions.
Overthinkers tend to overanalyze situations, assuming negative outcomes. Instead, try to believe in the good intentions of others. Most of the time, they're there, so why not trust in them?
- Acknowledge informed ignorance.
Accept that you can't predict the future, read minds, or know everything. Striving for these impossibilities will only lead to more overthinking.
- Learn to dance with uncertainty.
Overthinkers often fill the unknown with negative assumptions. Instead, embrace the uncertainty. Remember the acronym OAR: Observe uncertainty, Acknowledge its presence, and Realize its potential benefits.
- Swap "what if" with "we'll see."
The question "what if" is a common trigger for overthinking. When you catch yourself asking this, replace it with "we'll see," embracing acceptance over analysis.
- Step outside and enjoy the present.
Disconnect from your thoughts and connect with the world around you. Find joy in the present moment, rather than dwelling on past decisions or future uncertainties.
- Do the probability check.
Overthinkers often worry about worst-case scenarios. Ask yourself, "What are the chances of this actually happening?" Most likely, they're not as high as you think.
- Don't turn minor issues into major catastrophes.
Avoid escalating unremarkable details into worrisome conclusions. This type of escalation benefits no one.
- Assess the real cost of being wrong.
Overthinking often stems from a fear of making mistakes. Understand that not all mistakes come with high stakes. Lowering the stakes can help free your mind from the grips of overthinking.
So, let's not overthink it. Use the tips here as you choreograph and dance confidently forward without looking back.