Gordon Scott has been an active investor and technical analyst of securities, futures, forex, and penny stocks for 20+ years. He is a member of the Investopedia Financial Review Board and the co-author of Investing to Win. Gordon is a Chartered Market Technician (CMT). He is also a member of ASTD, ISPI, STC, and MTA.
What Is Analysis Paralysis?
Analysis paralysis is an inability to make a decision due to over-thinking a problem. An individual or a group can have too much data. The result is endless wrangling over the upsides and downsides of each option, and an inability to pick one.
The process of choosing an investment is particularly prone to analysis paralysis. It’s easy to get bogged down in an analysis of many options until it becomes impossible to choose one. This inaction can lead to missed chances for profit.
- Analysis paralysis occurs when overanalysis or overthinking of alternatives prevents an individual or a group from making a decision.
- In investing, analysis paralysis can lead to missed opportunities.
- Psychologists say the root cause of analysis paralysis is anxiety. We fear choosing the wrong option.
- Decision-making, both trivial and life-changing, can be improved by resisting analysis paralysis.
- One tactic: “Stair-step” your decisions, taking a series of small steps towards a big decision.
How Analysis Paralysis Works
Analysis paralysis can occur in both routine and complex problems. It often comes from trying to weigh an undefined number of variables.
In standard problem sets, an individual uses basic logic or standard statistical analysis to examine facts related to a potential course of action. The resulting analysis would typically provide a clear answer or at least a pros and cons list that reveals the most favorable options.
Analysis paralysis tends to set in if the research parameters are so vague that no clear choice can emerge.
“Which stock should I buy?” is a question without an answer. A more reasonable question might be: “Which stock can I buy that pays a good annual dividend and is in an industry that is relatively recession-proof?” You can list the options, compare the numbers, and consider their pros and cons.
The world of technical analysis for investing is highly susceptible to analysis paralysis. Any of a vast range of theories, concepts, and best practices can be used in order to reach a decision on what to buy and when to sell it.
In the investment management industry, analysts build models and fundamental investing regimes that help them make investment decisions. In technical analysis, chartists rely on their knowledge of technical indicators combined with the use of advanced charting software to detect trading signals and arrive at investment decisions.
The concept of fuzzy semantics is often discussed when seeking solutions for analysis paralysis. To mathematicians, fuzzy semantics is the study of problem analysis involving an undefined number of variables.
Fuzzy semantics, fuzzy logic, and fuzzy syntax programming are key to the development of artificial intelligence and machine learning solutions. Broadly, this concept uses decision tree-like analysis to direct an individual to a specified outcome. This type of analysis generally allows for subjective, rules-based programming that allows a user to adjust and customize variables for the automated delivery of responses.
“It doesn’t matter in which direction you choose to move when under a mortar attack, just as long as you move.” -Jeff Boss
How to Spot and Overcome Analysis Paralysis
Analysis paralysis can occur whether a person or group is considering a major investment, a life-changing move, or where to go for lunch.
According to Psychology Today, the root cause is anxiety. It comes from compulsively weighing an endless number of variables while imagining downsides to all of them. In the end, it is impossible to identify the best option from the rest. Recognizing that anxiety is causing paralysis can help.
He suggests that people are particularly prone to analysis paralysis in our era when any subject can be researched to the point of exhaustion. He suggests “stair-stepping” the process by making and acting on a series of smaller decisions that lead up to the main one. And, remember, you can revise and improve along the way.
“Choice paralysis” is a related syndrome. Consumers faced with a few well-chosen choices make a decision more easily than they do when faced with a vast selection.
Examples of Analysis Paralysis
Perhaps the most famous example of analysis paralysis in action is described in a report on a consumer psychology experiment known as the Jam Study.
The study found that consumers were 10 times more likely to purchase jam if they were presented with only six varieties instead of 24.
The same phenomenon has been replicated by studies involving chocolate, financial investments, and speed dating. Confronted by too many choices, we freeze.
Analysis Paralysis FAQs
Here are the answers to some commonly asked questions about analysis paralysis.
How Does Analysis Paralysis Affect Consumer Decisions?
Analysis paralysis is closely related to “choice paralysis.” Psychologists who study consumer behavior have concluded that fewer choices can be better than more choices.
A store with 1,000 bottles of white wine can simply flummox customers and leave them incapable of choosing one. A small selection of white wine, perhaps labeled with helpful serving tips, will get more sales.
What Are Signs of Analysis Paralysis in Real Estate Investing?
Real estate professionals think their field is particularly prone to analysis paralysis, for prospective real estate investors as well as first-time homebuyers. Perhaps a real estate decision is just too big to handle, both in terms of cost and in terms of physical reality.
In any case, the dreaded “obsessive research loop” sets in, according to the website Investing Architect. The proposed strategy: 1) Narrow your research to include only the relatively few choices that meet your specific priorities; 2) Ignore your long-term investing goals to focus on the smaller, here-and-now choices that move you in the right direction; 3) Set an achievable investing goal for this year to get you started.
What Is the Opposite of Analysis Paralysis?
A product manager came up with a pithy term for the opposite of analysis paralysis: “utopia myopia.”
This syndrome is characterized by a blithe disregard of the facts. The sufferer of utopia myopia is convinced that he or she knows the only possible solution. No research (or discussion) is necessary, particularly if it contradicts the chosen solution.
We all know one of those.
The Bottom Line
Jeff Boss, writing for Forbes, has a succinct recommendation: “It doesn’t matter in which direction you choose to move when under a mortar attack, just as long as you move.”
Many decisions require a bit more analysis than that. However, over-analyzing a decision can be at least as damaging as making a decision at random. If you find yourself plagued by analysis paralysis, first define your goals and then narrow your options to include only those few that best match it. Compare their advantages and disadvantages. Then pick one.
Have you ever overthought an action or situation so much that you froze up? When you are faced with several choices, y ou are actually more likely to make a poor decision or not make a decision at all. When paired with performance anxiety, this problem is exacerbated. Overanalyzing is counterproductive, but it often originates from good intentions.
Overanalyzing is everywhere. It’s the star basketball player who freezes up and misses the easy shot; the normally outgoing student who chokes during a presentation; the writer who scrutinizes their own work to the point where they toss it into the garbage.
In business, this can happen when a client or prospect is presented with too many choices and decides to not purchase at all. They are so confused or overwhelmed with decisions that they move on to something simpler.
This is known by psychologists as analysis paralysis. This phenomenon refers to the moments when someone is so overwhelmed with choices that they are unable to make a decision at all. The choices simply become too much. Rather than force themselves to irrationally make a decision, they do nothing.
Imagine walking into a clothing store. You’re looking for a new jacket. The salesperson greets you, and upon hearing what you are looking for, they begin to bring you hoodies, sweatshirts, leather jackets, peacoats and sports jackets. Soon, you find yourself sorting through a growing assortment of different outerwear, and are either flustered or annoyed by the sheer volume of choices to make. You leave and end up buying a sports coat elsewhere.
What did the salesperson do wrong? They greeted you, but instead of identifying a specific kind of jacket you were interested in buying, they just started bringing you everything. That’s an overwhelming situation. This is analysis paralysis, and it’s more common than you may think.
It happens in every industry. In the culinary world, restaurants are recommended to have smaller menus , no more than a page or two. Having more has proven to be less profitable for several reasons, one being that it will overwhelm guests.
So, how can we avoid analysis paralysis if it’s such a common issue? Here are three tips to help you avoid giving your clients analysis paralysis:
• Offer fewer choices. This is the most obvious and simplest answer to combat analysis paralysis. By offering fewer choices or offering them in small chunks, prospects will be able to choose what they feel is best for their needs.
• Discover their needs. This should be done with every prospect. By outright asking their needs rather than assuming, you will be able to tailor your choices to the client’s specific needs. Don’t make assumptions. Ask.
• Make the best choice obvious. Lead your client into the choice that fits best. Being honest and displaying the direct benefits that come as the result of their decision will help move the process along. Giving them time to analyze each and every insignificant detail will lead to confusion and uncertainty. Put yourself in their shoes, and offer genuine advice.
Unfortunately, clients aren’t the only ones who deal with analysis paralysis. For example, a salesperson with downtime is often faced with many choices. Should I be training? Do I have paperwork that needs handling? How could I use my time to effectively prospect right now? All these thoughts can lead salespeople to procrastinate.
One of the best pieces of advice that I can offer is to set deadlines. Don’t wait around. By holding yourself accountable and being able to look at your calendar to know where you should be at any time, you will be more likely to get things done.
Also, accept the fact that you will not reach perfection. People want to make the absolute best decision and are sometimes too focused on weighing out the pros and cons, especially on decisions that aren’t really that crucial. Make the best-educated decision with the time and resources that you’ve been given. A good decision executed now is better than a great decision executed later.
Now that you are aware of analysis paralysis, take note of the time it takes for you to make decisions. Acknowledge when you completely avoid making a decision. Remember, you can overcome these difficult decisions. Just be sure not to overanalyze them.
Over-Analyzing and Business Gridlock
Starting something–it can be the hardest thing to do. Just getting our feet off the ground to start a personal project or a business venture or an action inside a business can be scary. Fear of starting alone can lead to a paralyzing halt in progress of an organization. Let’s look at some reasons that people often fear starting and some idea on how to avoid stagnation.
Stagnation in business due to indecision and / or failure to act on a decision is called analysis paralysis. Analysis paralysis may occur for quite a few different reasons, but in the business world, there are common reasons. Fear, ego, unclarity, idea overload, disorganization, and laziness and more play into this stagnation. Let’s look at how these often play out in the business world.
What Causes Analysis Paralysis? Fear.
Why is it that–in both our personal business lives–many of us fear starting a project or making a defining decision? Some common base-fear reasons are that:
- people fear failure,
- people fear being blamed if a decision turns out to be wrong,
- people fear rejection,
- people fear change,
- people fear stepping out of their comfort zones,
- followers fear leading,
In the end, ideas may be thrown around while trying to solve a business issue for which the right direction is not entirely clear. Because no one wants to be looked at negatively, blamed, or even face repercussion should they make the wrong decision, often the decisions are sat on–leaving no decision made and no action taken.
What Causes Analysis Paralysis? Ego.
Ego–placing one’s appearance to other, the opinion of others, etc.–above what is most important (such as making and acting on a wise decision) can also cause stagnation.
- People want to be right.
- People want credit for having the answer.
- People want recognition.
On recognition, people indeed should be recognized for their genuine and quality efforts. But let’s say you have a manager with an idea and an employee comes up with a better idea, that manager’s ego may lead him to not act on the employee’s decision because he doesn’t want the employee to get credit and recognition over him for the good idea–even if going with their idea might reflect solid leadership on the manager’s part.
What Causes Analysis Paralysis? Unclarity.
If you’ve been in the corporate world, chances are that you have sat in meetings–often meetings that have nothing to do with your job or meetings for discussing a project and who is responsible for what. Many times, well-intentioned people hold meetings that lead to people’s eyes glazing over–because the requirement of the project not clear or are not explained well.
Also, explaining to much in one go can lead to unclarity. You can lose people. If one doesn’t understand your explanation of requirement one, you may lose them during your explanation of requirements two, three, four, and so on.
Another point on unclarity: Many times, one attempting to explain an entire project will start explaining its specifics before explaining the end goal. If I explained to you out of nowhere about the proper type and gauge of wiring to use for the canisters, you would have no idea what I mean because these are specifics. But if I told you that we are rewiring the recessed lighting in a customer’s business on the east and west wings, that gives you the end goal.
In short, if people don’t know the goal, the chances are that they will put off proceeding.
What Causes Analysis Paralysis? Idea Overload.
Then there are those meetings where everybody’s talking. While attempting to solve an issue, so many ideas are flying around the conference table that no one knows what is actually going to be done. Well-intentioned staff talk over each other and override each other’s ideas, sparking resentment and jealously.
A fully-open discussion is a great idea, but progress can be lost if the focus is not pulled back on to the end goal and ideas evaluated with a humble and level head.
What Causes Analysis Paralysis? Disorganization.
In the above scenario, a lack of ability of staff and management to work with people can lead to disorganized meetings, disorganized structure, and more. This leads to frustration, lack of settlement on a decision, and ultimately gridlock.
What Causes Analysis Paralysis? Laziness.
And sometimes you just have a person in charge who might be loud on their verbal commitment, but rarely acts on what they promised. This can, of course, be due them being overloaded with work, but it is often due to laziness.
If you notice, none of these are business issues. Though business is affected by these issues, they are people issues. They are psychological issues. They are personal issues.
Because of the above fears and characteristics, an organization may stagnate. Often, ideas and projects and intentions are discussed, they are analyzed, they are planned, and they are even put in writing. But so many factors can result in no decision being made and no action being taken.
Avoiding Analysis Paralysis
Be real about the personal fears and issues we all have. Make effort to genuinely get to know people that you work with and teach and work with them in a way appropriate for how they are wired. Create an open environment for people to express what they really think–even If it’s rough. Forget ego and hash things out toward a goal. Be humble when correcting bad direction and appreciate the good intentions and good ideas.
Get off the sideline, it is time to act
You. Yes, you. I know that you have done your research and due diligence. You have created a superb investment strategy. You have even done some paper trading. What are you waiting for? Why do you continue to overthink? Investing is not meant to be difficult; you must be willing to jump in. Yes, you can lose money. There is no guarantee that you will make money, but wrapping back around to the great investment strategy you have created for yourself, why are you still on the sideline waiting? Everyone else is in the game, and I want you to check-in because you are ready.
What is analysis paralysis? Analysis paralysis is when you overthink or overanalyze a situation leading to your decision-making becoming paralyzed, causing you to never act on what you have spent a lot of time preparing for. Thinking and analyzing are great, but it gets to a point where it hinders your forward progression. The stock market is not going to stop and wait for you. You may have missed out on a few chances for some major gains, but that is okay. There will be future opportunities for that. Once you overcome your analysis paralysis, you will look back and realize you were utilizing too much brain energy for no reason. The 4 specific ways to overcome analysis paralysis are to prioritize your decisions, start small, stop trying to be perfect, and stay away from negativity.
1. Prioritize Your Decisions
No, this does not involve more overthinking. Rather, look at it as an opportunity to truly narrow down on the main objectives of your investment strategy. For example, if you have different focuses in your investment strategy such as investing in ETFs that track benchmarks, investing in growth technology companies, and investing in value consumer discretionary companies, start with just two of those things. This will help in simplifying your thought process and allow you to have a narrower focus on how you are going to start investing. Once you do that, prioritize even more.
Let us say you decide to set your priorities on investing in the Vanguard S&P 500 ETF and investing in Apple and Microsoft. Now assign them in numerical order. I believe starting with an ETF is the best choice, but if you believe investing in a single security is better for your investment strategy go for it. You have done the research and due diligence, go get those returns you have been looking forward to getting. Once you prioritize your decisions, it makes you realize that there is no reason to overthink.
2. Start Small
When it comes to investing, it is best to start small. Do not fall for these social media “gurus” telling you to put this amount or that amount into the stock market. Start with a comfortable amount, something in the range of $100 to $500. Starting small is important because it gives you some breathing room. When starting, you should be focused on investing as a long-term play. Starting small makes you realize that sure, there are fluctuations in the market, but at least you have now overcome the fear of possibly losing everything at once.
In anything in life, it is best to start small and then scale as you continue to better understand what you are getting involved in. It is honestly not a good idea in most cases to “go big or go home.” Most people end up going home empty with that thinking so understanding how to start small and scale will be key in successfully achieving many things in your life. Companies like Microsoft and Apple did not become who they are today overnight. It took decades of starting small and then scaling to become the leaders they are today. Taking your time while taking action is better than not doing anything at all. It is also better than taking action at too large of a scale leading to major risks.
3. Stop Trying to Be Perfect
“Let me wait until Microsoft drops to $150 per share so I can buy exactly $1,500 worth of it.” No, stop thinking like that. I know that you have a strategy. I do as well, but sometimes waiting for a security to go down to an exact price will not benefit you in the long run. Your goal is to be a participant in the market. Sure, shares of Microsoft might be a little more expensive than what you want them to be, but remember, they will likely be more expensive 1 to 2 years from now. Timing the market is not going to benefit you at all. I know that you have done great research and due diligence and that you have picked securities that will garner you returns in the next 1 to 2 years and even further in the future than that.
4. Stay Away from Negativity
Stop reading the negative news of people losing money while investing by making mistakes that could have been easily avoided with a sound strategy. Stop listening to people close to you who doubt you or doubt making money by investing in the stock market. Negative media and the negative thoughts of people around you will only continue to hold you back rather than set yourself forward. At the end of the day, your investing is about you. You have put in all the hard work, and for you not to take action due to hearing some negative things that clearly under weigh the positives would signify that you have wasted your time. Sometimes, the negativity is necessary to hear, but most of the time it is nonsense that you should filter out of your life.
And just like that, you have overcome analysis paralysis. Well, maybe not that instantly, but you now clearly see that there is no need to continue to overthink and overanalyze. Calming down, relaxing a little, and then narrowing down on these 4 ways to overcome analysis paralysis will be beneficial to you in many ways other than investing. Being able to take a simpler approach to life regarding things that sometimes do not require the most complex thinking is important. Analysis paralysis brings unnecessary stress to your life. Being able to fully combat it and act on your strategy will be key to not only your long-term financial success but your success in general.
If you dissect the term Analysis Paralysis, you may notice the fact that ‘too much analysis leads to paralysis’. Now you must be thinking how come? Understand this: you spend a lot of time gathering information from all the sources, even if you missed many opportunities on your way. Now you have so much information that you cannot find out which way is right to move ahead.
It’s obvious that you don’t want to make any wrong decision but procrastinating to find the best possible solution can leave you only in setbacks. Whether it’s about personal relationships, marriage or career, too much analysis leaves you with a mental blindspot, also called analysis paralysis.
Through the above discussion, you may have understood that analysis paralysis makes a person unable to act or decide due to overthinking and searching for possible alternatives. This state of thinking creates paralyzed outcomes, way different from balanced and planned decisions.
Lost In Cloud Of Thoughts & Not Able To Step Ahead?
Take a deep breath, calm yourself down and stretch your arms up. Answer yourself if you need help or not! To get over it, write us down at [email protected] and connect yourself with a counselor today.
Why Do People Go Through Analysis Paralysis?
Decision making may lead to decision fatigue with abundant confusion, impulsiveness, avoidance of necessary items and ultimately drained energy. But the reason behind analysis paralysis could come under an umbrella of:
- Satisfice: People who fall into this category try to choose an option that can satisfy maximum needs and search for more into one single choice.
- Maximize: People who are never satisfied with available options and keep looking for more and better alternatives often think too much.
A famous experiment in Columbia University proved an interesting fact to the world. We are much attracted to a place that offers multiple selection options but this fails our decision-making process early. Increased time consumption and slow hopping between various stages of development kills productivity before it shapes into something crucial.
How To Overcome Analysis Paralysis?
1. Answer Yourself, ‘Why Did You Start The Process?’
After all the overanalysis that you have already done, maybe it’s required to go back why you started it. Even if there is no crisis, you should recognize what and why you want a certain thing. The best decision-makers are those who recognize the timeline and urgency of making decisions before it’s too late.
2. Break Decisions Into Smaller Goals
It is common that bigger decisions lead to confusion, anxiety and overwhelmingness which can lead to drowning in analysis paralysis. Instead of taking one big decision at a time, form some smaller steps and hit them one by one. Yes, this is one of the best ways to escape from a spiral of analysis paralysis.
3. Don’t Run After Perfection
A big decision requires you to have focus and good thoughts as it can prove itself as a life-altering aspect. But even psychologists and experts recommend that one shall not run after perfection or else you will be stuck in the cycle of analysis paralysis. It is advised to show satisfaction with a decision which is good enough.
As we know that every step comes with its ups and downs, do not let any decision stop you from moving forward in life.
4. Know The Difference Between Healthy & Unhealthy Pressure
Sometimes people work best under pressure or set deadlines. If you have been a team leader or manager, you already know that enforcing a deadline provides better results. However, if the pressure is leading you in an unhealthy term then you must take a break or ask someone senior for help.
5. Work On Your Self-Confidence
Self-confidence is likely to go down if you cannot make out a good decision or the decision has already been paralyzed. Firstly, understand how to build confidence and vanguard your personality. Secondly, ask your family, friends or colleagues to help you move along with the process. It is because this will help you to get a new perspective on how to not fall in trap of multiple thoughts and be proactive with decision making.
Consider Asking For Help Again
Be mindful of your actions and work smartly for positive outcomes. No, we are not telling you to rush into big decisions but just wanting you to escape from analysis paralysis.
What is analysis paralysis?
I like to think of analysis paralysis as becoming paralyzed from overthinking, which further leads to the inability to make a decision or take action. It’s paralysis by over-analysis.
Have you ever felt so overwhelmed by your thoughts that you feel like you suffocate yourself and instead of breathing through it and trying to accomplish things task by task, you completely give up and walk away? That’s the best way I can describe how analysis paralysis feels.
Your over-analysis of a decision you have to make or goal you have to accomplish actually prevents you from accomplishing what you set out to do.
If you have ever experienced extreme anxiety, I’m sure you can relate and have gone through this before.
Here are 8 Tips to Overcome Analysis Paralysis:
#1. Ground Yourself
What works for me is momentarily removing myself from the situation and doing some type of self-care activity, such as taking a 15-minute walk to regroup and clear my head or simply doing some breathing exercises. Don’t go overboard and completely abandon whatever it is you are working on–that just adds to the analysis paralysis!
Check out my post on how to calm down in the moment for some breathing exercises and grounding techniques.
#2. Differentiate between the big and small decisions or actions
Ask yourself, how important is this action or step toward making a decision or completing a project? Give your energy toward the level of importance of each component in relation to the outcome that you desire. If one component is critical to that overall goal you need to accomplish, give that the most energy, and categorize accordingly.
#3. Know what your end goal is or what you’d like to achieve from making that decision
Having a clear outcome will only help you work through the analysis paralysis. It is also extremely helpful to have a clear outline of how you’re going to accomplish that goal or what’s involved in that decision.
Are your goals S.M.A.R.T. (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely)? Learn how to structure your goals for success, and grab my free S.M.A.R.T. goals worksheet below!
Tip #4 Don’t be a perfectionist
Perfectionism and overthinking go hand in hand. Perfectionists tend to naturally overanalyze, and this just adds to the analysis paralysis. Try limiting the amount of information you take in and lay off your tendency to micromanage and control every outcome.
#5 Set a hard time limit
Set a date for when you need to make your decision by or when you need to complete your project. Organize or create an outline and timeline to achieve your goal. I cannot stress enough how easy things can be and how much progress you can make when there’s order in place.
Related: S.M.A.R.T. Goals: How to Achieve Your Goals
#6 Pick something and go
Whether it’s an action step toward the project you’re trying to complete or a smaller decision that comes before the big decision, just do it. Procrastinating leads to more over-analyzing and contributes to the vicious cycle. Once you start doing something, it becomes a lot easier, and I’m sure you’ll feel a sense of relief once you actually get the ball rolling.
#7 Delegate the task(s) to someone else
This is one of my favorites because it’s something that I continuously have to work on. I have the “I can do it all” mentality, so I’m not the best at delegating tasks. By delegating, you may feel like you’ve taken yourself out of the project or out of the decision-making process, but if you’re shifting some responsibility to someone you trust, it will only propel you to take more steps toward your end goal. Working with someone else will also help you hold yourself accountable.
#8 Get the opinion of someone you trust but don’t get too many opinions
Everyone is going to have a different perspective and too many opinions will overwhelm you. Talk to maybe one to three people who you really trust and whose opinions you value. At the end of the day, whether other people’s perspectives affect you or not, your gut is going to tell you what you ultimately want to do. Only you know what’s best for you. You just need to gain the confidence to trust yourself!
I hope these tips help you tackle your analysis paralysis. Just remember, you can accomplish anything with a clear and calm mindset! 🙂
The Analysis Paralysis – Sounds boring right??
Please bear with me for few minutes as this phrase might sound a bit boring but I can promise that you are going to learn something very useful today.
OK so let’s start today’s topic.
I am sure you all can remember at least one incident where you wanted to start working on something very important but kept thinking ( rather overthinking). Finally, you never started working on it.
The something I mentioned above could have been to start working on your dream business idea, starting a new diet, starting to exercise, cultivating a new good habit or as small as deciding which smartphone to buy.
If you face such situation once in a while then it’s okay. However, if you are having difficulty to start working on a new task or taking an important decision quite often then you, my friend, are a victim of The Analysis Paralysis knowingly or unknowingly.
Hold on. There is nothing to worry even if you are caught up by The Analysis Paralysis.
Yeah yeah. I can sense you are eager to know how we can kill The Analysis Paralysis demon.
Don’t worry I am here to help you with that ( remember I mentioned in the starting of this article that you will learn something very useful Today).
OK. Let me first explain what The Analysis Paralysis exactly is and then we will see how we can overcome it. At last we will see some practical examples as well on the same.
What is The Analysis Paralysis?
Nope. Ok, just kidding. I’m gonna tell you.
So in simple words The Analysis Paralysis is the state where you are unable to start working on a task or unable to take a decision as a result of overthinking, over- analyzing or over evaluating the data needed to take a decision.
I told you not to overthink but you never listen to me.
Ok. The reason it is known as The Analysis Paralysis is because due to over- analyzing of a situation we end up not starting or not taking a decision resulting in a Paralysis of the expected final outcome.
No rocket science here, you don’t take action, you won’t get any results.
When you are experiencing The Analysis Paralysis you are so much engrossed in over-analyzing and evaluating the information you have so that you are unable to act or take a decision.
There are many psychological reasons and explanations of why people fall prey of The Analysis Paralysis but that will be a topic for another article.
As you now understood what is The Analysis Paralysis and a couple of incidents must have crossed your mind where you got stuck and unable to start or take a decision.
So now it’s time to know how we can overcome this using some simple hacks.
How to overcome The Analysis Paralysis?
Or for the people who want some adventure – How to kill The Analysis Paralysis demon?
Any ideas you want to share?
Ok let me walk you through few simple points to take care and by the way I have used all these point on myself as well recently.
- Start putting a deadline to the task you want to start or decision you want to make. No matter how impossible it looks ,try to time bound it.
- Break the task at hand into small parts so that you get a little feeling of accomplishment every time you complete a small chunk of it.
- Set a specific frequency and specific time in the day for working on those small chunks of sub-tasks. If required set a reminder in your mobile phone.
- Give yourself a small reward every time you complete a sub-task for the day or whatever little goal you have set for completion of the sub- task. Be it your favourite meal or a piece of chocolate. As they say “Celebrate small wins”. Or as Domino’s says have “Har choti khushi ka celebration”.
- Do not chase perfection. Start with whatever you have and you will improve as you keep working on it. Remember “Every expert was once a beginner”.
I promise if you will keep the above points in mind you can easily kill The Analysis Paralysis demon.
Do let me know how it feels after starting that something you were waiting for a long time.
Now we will see one real life example of Analysis Paralysis and how to overcome it.
This one is my personal experience of starting this blog itself.
You won’t believe I was thinking ,rather overthinking, about starting a blog since last 4 years . But every time I used to get an urge to start writing, I started over-analyzing on things like which topics should I choose, which niche should I pick, will people be interested in reading my blog, will I be able to write a good blog, should I start on WordPress or blogger, how will I do SEO on my blog etc etc.
I used to start reading articles and watching videos on YouTube with titles as ‘How to start a blog’ or ‘Blogging for beginners’ and after every article I read or video I watch , I get to know something new. And I start to think I am not ready yet, I have a lot to learn etc etc. So basically I used to go chase perfection without writing a single word on the blog. I was trapped in this vicious cycle for almost last 4 years because of The Analysis Paralysis.
Now, how I killed this demon.
Yes, you guessed it right. I followed the exact same points as I mentioned above.
I have given myself a strict deadline that I have to start writing by the first week of June. – ( First point)
After that I decided to write one blog daily at midnight till I go to sleep. Yeah I am a night owl. – (Second and third point)
To be honest I have not started giving myself any reward after completing the blog post for the day but yeah I am going to start it soon. Right now I am not feeling a need of it, maybe due to Placebo. – (Fourth point)
And yes I am not chasing perfection anymore, at least not immediately. I very well understand that I am going to get better with time and will grow. – (Fifth point)
I wanted to put one more example but I am writing for a long time and feeling a little bit tired. It’s already 2:30 AM.
Will definitely edit this article with one more real life example.
Some Good Quotes
Now I would like to close this article with a couple of great quotes I came across while doing research for this article.
The best thing is to do the right thing; the next best thing is to do the wrong thing; the worst of all things is to stand perfectly still. -Alfred Henry Lewis
If fear of failure is the mother of procrastination, perfectionism is the father.
Courtesy- YouTube channel Philip VanDusen
I hope you enjoyed reading my last article – The Criticism Sandwich.
If you did not read it yet then please go check that out by clicking the link above and you will learn a new useful hack which can get you some benefit in your day to day life.
I know this article was a little lengthy but I believe I was able to keep you guys engaged ( I tried at least).
Hope you got to learn something good and helpful today as I promised at the starting of the article.
It’s time to say bye bye.
Will meet you in the next article.
Till then take care.
February 4, 2020
When I’m not stuck in analysis paralysis (more on that in a moment), I love folk singer Joan Baez’s insight that “action is the antidote to despair.”
However, have you ever noticed that sometimes the desire to take action is what leads to despair (or at least discomfort), especially if you don’t know how to do it?
To give a personal example, this is my first week back to my regular office space after over two months and I started the day off feeling confused on what to do.
After having spent 10-ish weeks running my business while country-hopping through South East Asia (December) or practically never leaving my parents’ house in Germany (January), I couldn’t just get back to a regular working routine the second I got back to the United States.
I wanted to take massive action but I wasn’t clear on what that could look like. By asking myself one of the following questions (guess which one?), I managed to get back on the horse. Without that question, I might have just stayed stuck in analysis paralysis, instead of being productive and seeing my projects to completion.
Of course, your situation might be very different to the one I was facing this morning.
That’s why my “Massive Action Framework” contains 3 distinct phases and a total of 6 questions. Together, these cover most issues that hold people back from taking action.
Let’s jump right in:
Phase 1: avoid analysis paralysis by conducting a pre-action analysis
The term “paralysis analysis” basically means that the habit of over-analyzing often keeps people from simply taking action.
Those of us who are pretty intellectual by nature are most likely to suffer from analysis paralysis because we (erroneously) believe that we can think our way out of a situation.
(Spoiler alert: we can’t. Believe me, I’ve tried…)
While you have to avoid analysis paralysis, this doesn’t mean that you should jump head-first into taking action without any prior thought. A little planning can go a long way when it comes to increasing your productivity.
The key is to have a good structure that allows you to analyze the situation without over-doing it.
The following four questions will give you that structure:
1. What are the steps you need to take?
Sometimes, people don’t take action because they don’t know what they should be doing. This question helps you gain more clarity on how exactly you can take action.
A word to the wise: if you can’t answer this question, it’s tempting to skip it and to just start doing something.
Don’t give into that temptation! When we take action without clarity on what to do, we’re like dogs chasing their own tails. That doesn’t sound very efficient, does it?
If you don’t know what steps to take, your task is to sit with that question until you gain more clarity.
Having just gone through a similar process this morning, I know that that’s not the easiest thing to do, particularly if we feel pressed for time.
That’s where discipline comes in. Make yourself sit with that question, particularly if you don’t want to. Keep in mind that it’s ultimately way more efficient to spend time getting clear on your priorities than spending that time doing something that doesn’t actually matter.
When you find the answer to that question, write it down, preferably on a piece of paper with an actual pen. (In general, I find that when it comes to productivity, pen and paper is superior to digital approaches.)
→ A potential answer to this question: “I need to answer two inquiries from potential clients and then I need to send out an email to my list and announce my new course.”
2. What potential obstacles might get in the way?
Sometimes people don’t take action because of (real or imagined) obstacles. By getting clear on what might get in your way you can then trouble-shoot in the next step.
When answering this question, keep in mind that obstacles can be of a physical/logistical or of a purely emotional nature.
Sometimes, we don’t take our fears seriously but the truth is that it’s often easier for people to resolve logistical challenges than emotional ones (particularly if they don’t have a trusted friend or coach to help them through it).
→ A potential answer: “Answering the inquiries is easy enough but I’m afraid of sending out the email, announcing my new course. It’s a big step forward.”
3. What support do you need to remove these obstacles?
So often, we forget that we can ask other people for help. By asking yourself this question, you won’t fall into the trap of thinking that you need to do it all by yourself.
→ A potential answer to this question: “I need to call my friend Mindy. She’ll be excited about what I have proposed and that will encourage me to send off the email.”
4. When will you complete this?
When you try to avoid paralysis by analysis, it’s helpful to set deadlines. In general, I would encourage you to set short deadlines (hours or days as opposed to week/months) because people tend to treat these as more real than longer ones.
Keep in mind that setting short deadlines might require you to break down a larger task into smaller ones.
→ A potential answer to this question: “I will finish answering the inquiries today. I will draft the email tomorrow and call Mindy to get her feedback and support. After that call, I can send off the email.”
Phase 2: Action
After answering all these questions, it’s time to go and just do it. When people are stuck in analysis paralysis, they often look for a secret to taking action. The secret is that there’s no secret.
Just do the thing.
Phase 3: Post-action analysis, instead of paralysis by analysis
After taking action (you did take action, didn’t you?), it’s time for another quick analysis. The key here is not to get bogged down in excessive detail or to be hard on yourself about real or perceived shortcomings.
Instead, this phase is all about taking stock of what happened and to gather valuable insights for the future.
These two questions will help you with that:
1. How did it go?
Quickly jot down how it was to take action for you.
→ A potential answer to this question: “Once I got started, it was surprisingly easy. I feel proud of myself for having done this.”
2. What can you learn from this for the future?
By answering this question, you can gain valuable insights for the future. Write down your answer to this question every time you’ve gone through this process and regularly revisit what you have written down in the past.
That way, you integrate these lessons into your life which will make it easier and easier for you to take action in the future.
→ A potential answer to this question: “It’s so helpful to have support. Without Mindy, this would have been a lot more challenging.”
When it comes to any framework for moving out of analysis paralysis, the danger is that people just read the information without actually applying it.
Please don’t fall into this trap. After all, as Roy T. Bennett put it: “Dreams don’t work unless you take action.”
Let’s make your dreams work! Begin by asking yourself the first question, the one that helped me this morning. Then, follow through on your plan.
I look forward to seeing you on the other side!
Did you like this article?
Want some more help?
Know how to overcome paralysis analysis? Struggling with making effective decisions in your life? ‘
If you often struggle to make an important decision or frequently overthink the choices you have to make, then you might be dealing with a mindset known as “analysis paralysis.”
This can be a major issue where you find yourself overthinking… obsessing even… to the point where a decision is never made.
So in this video, we will talk about analysis paralysis and I will provide 7 actionable strategies you can use to overcome this mindset.
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