SAY NO TO OVERTHINKING AND ACHIEVE MORE IN 2021
Overthought is overwrought. Kick the habit and thrive.
Do you torture yourself by overthinking everything so much that you never actually DO anything? We’ve all become chronic overthinkers in the last year, because we crave certainty and a sense of control – two things that are currently in short supply.
So we create hypothetical outcomes, looking out for all the pitfalls of taking action, preparing ourselves for any eventuality, protecting ourselves from disaster. But the problem is, the more we think, the more fear we let into our minds. This can make action almost impossible. It can even lead to huge anxiety and even depression.
Fear is fine. Fear is normal. But if you let fear rule your life, you’ll never achieve anything. And with some coaches and business gurus telling us to say no more and respect our boundaries, and others advising to say yes more and embrace everything, it’s hard to know which is best.
With 2021 around the corner, instead of making New Year’s resolutions of all the things you’re not going to do and making promises about all the things you are going to do, how about just making one small change? Say no to overthinking and achieve more in 2021.
Here are my top tips and techniques to help you break free from overthinking.
1. Acknowledge you are doing it. Recognise when you are slipping into a habit of overthinking something. Create a signal to alert yourself – this may take time because it’s easy to forget when trying to change a habit and overthinking is no different from smoking, it’s something you might do without thinking (literally), so write it on your fridge, on the notice board or wherever to remind you that you are intentionally aiming to break the habit.
2. Create an action. For instance draw a circle and write the subject or decision to be made in the circle, or start a new page in your notebook, or go to a particular place in your home or office so you get a change of perspective. The action of doing something will allow your brain to recognise the repeated activity and will start to trigger new thought patterns as a result.
3. Be realistic about the time you are spending weighing up a decision. Put in place a process to minimise the time you take. Use a stop clock or timer to record time spent, or block out the time in your diary for specific decision making.
4. Lose the fear. Stop thinking about what could go wrong and think about all the things that could go right or even extremely well.
5. Stop aiming for perfection. Remember the 80/20 rule – the biggest trigger for procrastination is when aiming for perfection, so 80% of something may be enough to achieve your desired outcome. And in most cases 20% of what you do will result in 80% of your best results.
6. When you find yourself overthinking imagine a happy place. Think about how in order to get there faster, the decision you make right now has to be made quickly. Simple really – the longer you spend overthinking it, the longer it will take for you to fulfil your dreams.
7. Don’t put off the research. Not every decision you make will be based on intuition or gut. Some decisions will need careful research and consideration so book out the time and treat this like any other appointment in your diary and value that commitment. If you need information before you make a decision, stop thinking about the decision and focus on the information you need to acquire first.
8. Let go of emotion. Although emotion is hugely important in ensuring we make the right decisions and be our true authentic self, don’t allow emotional feelings to cloud your judgement. Think about the practical needs and the desired outcome. What needs to happen in order for you to achieve the results you want to achieve? Think rationally and purposefully.
9. Stop waiting for the right time. If you are honest with yourself, is there really a right time or are you just putting something off for fear or some other reason? You cannot predict the future but you can change it, you’ve just got to start now.
10. Remember when you wanted what you currently have? You will feel that so many times in life. You can easily forget gratitude and perspective when you overthink everything. What small steps can you take to make great big changes? What small steps can you make now to make sure that in future you will have what you currently want?
Words: Faye Watts, in-house coach at the Audrey Members’ Club. To find out more go to members.audreyonline.co.uk