Achieve More by Thinking Less – 4 Secrets
It’s prudent to think through a decision before acting. But, it’s possible to think about it too much. I’ve heard it called “the paralysis of analysis.” Over-thinking an issue can be a roadblock to achieving more that matters.
If the issue is particularly complex, it’s easy to slide deep into the quicksand of trying to exhaust the varied aspects of the issue along with their implications for the future. You can become too cautious, fearful, and sometimes you may feel like you can’t make a decision. You feel stuck.
Here are 4 secrets to help you achieve more by thinking less:
Understand how your brain works.
- Your working memory can manage only a few aspects of an issue at a time. As the thoughts keep coming, some can get lost. When a thought is lost to memory, you remember there was a thought but not exactly what it was. The shadow of the lost thought along with all of the other incoming thoughts make for increasing stress.
Maximize your mental resources.
- Keep up with the issues as they come to you by recording them on your smartphone or notepad. As you work toward a decision, strike off (don’t erase or delete) thoughts/issues that become unimportant.
- Managing thoughts and ideas by writing and sorting will free mental resources to focus on the most important and look beyond the self-evident options to the bigger picture and even more, possibly better, options.
- Talk it out with someone.
Reduce the decision to simplest terms.
- Gather data quickly and thoroughly.
- Ask questions about the issues to determine relevance and discard the irrelevant.
- Does this really matter to the decision or is it just a related thought?
- What difference will it make if this item is not considered?
- Which of the items, if not considered, could lead to an undesirable outcome?
- Which of the items, if strongly considered, could lead to a most desirable outcome?
Take action as soon as possible.
- As you act, you will learn more about the issue and gain clarity about next steps. If you don’t act you may find yourself only thinking about your thinking.
- Build flexibility into your actions steps. This will allow you to move forward without requiring all the foreknowledge you may want.
- Be willing to take action and make adjustments on the fly. When you require everything to be in place before taking action you create a longer decision-making process and waste time considering things that may not even be issues as action is taken.
Be adaptive in your action and leadership. Courageously take well-considered risks and learn in action. If you will, you can achieve more that really matters.