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Overthinking Is Exhausting
At times, just about everyone tries to outthink a problem or issue. We believe that by spending more time evaluating every option, turn, or nuance of a consequential problem we can bring it to a more successful outcome.
But what usually occurs is not perfection. Instead, we muck things up by aggressively spinning our wheels and creating self-doubt, anxiety, and the need to do more. Why couldn’t we just leave well enough alone and avoid the temptation to overthink the issue?
Essentially, overthinking is the art of addressing problems that don’t exist. Whenever we turn a problem over and over in the mind, we see every pitfall, crack, and blemish, making them larger and more important than they really are.
We begin to second-guess any decision already made or postpone reaching a conclusion until we are satisfied we have looked at every angle and turned over every rock. But there is always another rock. Overthinking is exhausting.
The first step in avoiding this trap is to know when you’re doing it. Any time you find yourself feeling worried or anxious over a decision or issue and at the same time fixating on the worst-case scenario, you are likely overthinking. The endless loop of unproductive thoughts and replays will paralyze even the best of leaders.
Breaking the power of overthinking comes down to being a leader of action.
Overthinking is a reflection of not being solution-focused about the problem. When we overthink, we dwell on the problem and all its parts. When problem-solving, we focus on examining options and finding a workable solution. Any action that addresses the problem will help to break the cycle. The small steps we might take to tackle a problem will often shake a leader free from fixating on what can go wrong.
Good leaders are naturally action-oriented, but abandon this strength when they unintentionally choose to overthink. The key is to act. Occupying the mind by executing an action prevents becoming consumed with the problem. Any movement toward a solution helps. Once the spell is broken, leaders usually stop fixating on what they can’t or shouldn’t attempt to control.
As one thinker puts it, overthinking is often the product of underdoing.