For some of us, overthinking is the great killer of our motivation.
You start off excited about a project, energized to tackle that big report or dissertation, or finally ready to ask that person out.
Then you start to question yourself.
And then you do it again.
And then you go back to your original thoughts. Then you betray them again.
And, finally, you just start to feel unmotivated, unenthused, and powerless.
Consistent productivity is dictated largely on momentum, with each preceding small victory building up to the next. But because you overthink things so often, you end up routinely killing that sense of energy and momentum and feeling like you’re right back where you started.
That’s why it’s imperative that you work to replace that habit of overthinking, of questioning yourself, if you ever hope to achieve your goals.
If you’re an overthinker who has experienced exactly this before, here are four ways you should be turning overthinking into action once and for all.
1. You check for fear
Sometimes, it’s not simply indecisiveness that is causing your overthinking, it’s fear. The worry or anxiety over what will happen depending on what you choose.
Differentiating between these two states is important because you handle each differently.
With indecisiveness, oftentimes simply building up a little extra confidence or jolting yourself to action (literally jumping up and down to generate some adrenaline or something) is enough.
However, fear requires a more careful approach that builds confidence, clears away distortion, and helps you manage the emotions swirling around within you.
So, take some time to notice what is going on inside you when the overthinking begins. Is there a specific source? Is there an emotion accompanying the indecisiveness? Do you physically feel anxious? These are signs it’s something deeper, fear, causing you to second-guess yourself.
If that’s the case, move on to the next step.
2. You look back on past experiences
It’s important to see through the irrationality of your mind.
When you’re overthinking things you’re usually either blowing things out of proportion or distorting the facts.
How do you do that? Refer to the truth of your past experiences by looking back and seeing where overthinking has gotten you in the past and that things were never as bad or complicated as you made them out to be.
This doesn’t just help provide you clarity but also builds confidence, allowing you to move forward with more certainty than before.
3. You yank yourself back to the present
The act of overthinking is one in which you’re completely engrossed in your own head. So, it reasons that a fairly reliable prescription is to get out of your head.
That might sound like one of those things that’s easier said than done, but it’s not really. It just takes a little practice.
I’m specifically referring to using the practice of mindfulness to become present to the moment in which you’re overthinking. Sort of like when your best friend stops by to check on you after a night of drunkenness and rips open the blinds at 8:00 A.M. So thoughtful.
The point is to shock you out of your inebriated mental trance so that you realize what you’re doing and can 1) view your thoughts in action and 2) step away from that mental state and make a more conscious decision.
4. You know that no decision is final
Few decisions in life can’t be changed in hindsight. No matter what decision you made or action you took, you can always go back and take a different path or try things a different way.
When you’re engrossed in the decision-making process, the stakes feel so high. But they rarely are and our mind is just blowing them out of proportion.
So remember that almost no decision is final. You have the opportunity to change things up if they don’t work out how you imagined. Success often requires several failed attempts before you get things right, so don’t be afraid of getting them wrong or you’ll never make it to that one, final successful attempt.