man suffers from analysis paralysis

Are You Struggling With Analysis Paralysis?

By Nicholette Leanza, LPCC-S

You have a big decision to make. Your mind keeps running over and over with every possible solution. You lay out all your options but you still can’t make a decision. You’re frazzled and frozen. You can’t move forward because you’re stuck on making the perfect choice and your anxiety is through the roof. If this sounds like you, then you may suffer from analysis paralysis.

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What is Analysis Paralysis?

Analysis paralysis is the tendency for a person to overanalyze or overthink a situation, which can render them unable to move forward or make any decision. Oftentimes, a desire to find a perfect solution as well as a severe fear of making the wrong decision drive this overanalysis. 

Analysis paralysis is more than a minor inconvenience. Feeling overwhelmed by options can lead to a larger problem, particularly in situations in which a decision is needed quickly. Crippling anxiety goes hand-in-hand with these situations as well. 

Even after a decision is painstakingly made, a person may continue to perseverate on whether they made the right choice or not. All this worry and anxiety becomes its own beast.

So what can one do to rid yourself of this crippling analysis paralysis? Here are some tips:  

Let Go of Perfection

If you are striving to make the perfect decision, then you’ll continue to feel frustrated as you spin your wheels like a car stuck in the snow. Some people get swept away with needing to know every option and detail of a situation in the search for finding the perfect solution. No matter how much information you gather, there will always be more to uncover. To help you let go of seeking the perfect solution, set parameters for what you need to know now and what you’d like to know in the future.

Break Big Decisions Into Smaller Parts

An important decision can feel like staring up at Mount Everest, but reaching the peak of any mountain is done just one step at a time. Similarly, it makes sense that we break down our decisions into smaller more manageable pieces. 

Difficult situations or decisions will feel less overwhelming when you separate them into smaller categories or options. This will also help guide you back to the path of making the best decision for you. 

Prioritize Your Options

Organize your options by determining which ones are the most important and which ones are not useful or are just plain awful. One way you can figure this out is by creating a pros and cons list of every option. This can help you see your possible solutions more clearly and will also lessen your anxiety as your best options come into clearer focus.

Set a Deadline

Set a deadline for yourself and stick to it. One of the hardest paths to navigate in decision making is all the second-guessing that keeps us stuck and also feeds into perfectionism. Adhering to your deadline and then recognizing that you need to let go of your fear of making the wrong decision will liberate you. 

If you truly follow the path of breaking things down into smaller parts and then prioritizing your options, you can feel confident that you charted your decision course well. In essence, as you shed the shackles of perfectionism while you knock down the obstacles that impede your decision-making process, you’ll be catapulted toward a renewed confidence in yourself and your ability to make decisions.

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