The Secret to Defeating Analysis Paralysis (and Why You Don’t Do It)

Analysis Paralysis

Taking action is the only way to defeat analysis paralysis.

That’s the secret.

Take one action. Any action.

In fact, the more likely you are to pick an action that you know is half-assed, the more likely it is you will be pleasantly surprised.

Sometimes the only way to understand the problem that led to analysis paralysis in the first is to take action.

Few choices in our lives are absolutely irreversible. Even fewer are potentially lethal.

Yet we react to every job interview or presentation or flirtation with a cute stranger like it was a life-threatening situation.

Why do we do this?

The Resistance Leads to Paralysis by Analysis

Steven Pressfield in The War of Art calls it the Resistance. Seth Godin call it the Lizard Brain.

Whatever you call it, there is a deep, ancient part of your brain that is terrified of going out on a limb, of taking a risk.

The Resistance or the Lizard Brain tells you to slow down. Think things through. Procrastinate.

It negotiates. It compromises. It cajoles.

It imagines worst-case scenarios to frighten you into inaction.

Inherently, we all know that taking action is the only way to beat the crippling fear that leads to paralysis by analysis. Yet we don’t do it.

When the difference between right and wrong meant getting eaten by a savannah lion or survival, this debilitating adaptation may have made sense. But how many of us actually confront these life or death situations on a daily basis?

Not many.

For most of our daily lives, the worst thing that can happen to us is getting ridiculed.

Shitty, yes. But not particularly life-threatening in the grand scheme of things.

Experiment & Iterate: The Solution to Analysis Paralysis

Give yourself permission to fail. You could overthink a problem to death. You could plot and graph every contingency onto an Excel spreadsheet your boss would love, and still miss the thing that is right in front of your face.

Don’t confuse planning for being prepared. You have to do the upfront work. Having a bias towards action isn’t an excuse to be unprepared. That’s a given.

But the problem for most people facing paralysis by analysis isn’t being unprepared, but feeling like they need to plan more.

You don’t.

The answer is always to take action. Right now. Whatever it is you’ve been procrastinating on.

The results will aid your solution and potentially change how you view the problem. As long as you build in time for reflection, you can course correct. Give yourself time to collect feedback, (especially from yourself) and you can defeat analysis paralysis every time.

Taking action in the face of analysis paralysis will put you in to the top twenty percent of performers. Because most people in the face of a difficult decision decide to do nothing and defer to someone else to make a decision.

Good lifestyle design requires you live life intentionally. Preferably those intentions are yours and not someone else’s.

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