Updated: Jul 23, 2021
By Corina Walsh
I have a confession to make. I am a classic overthinker and have been for most of my life. I recognize my overthinking comes from having too many ideas, therefore often feeling overwhelmed. Only in my thirties did I realize I came up with so many ideas because, at my core, I am an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs are ideas people.
Perhaps having too many ideas for your business is not an issue for you. Maybe you get bogged down thinking about all the things that could go wrong. Success is linked to your ability to act on things that will drive your business forward. This article will help you stop overthinking and act.
Take a deep breath. Ask yourself what is going on here? Identify emotions that come up when you try to decide. The prevailing wisdom related to emotions and decision making is that emotions should be ignored. We are told that using logic will ensure we make a sound decision. This is inaccurate advice. Emotions provide guidance on what we need in any given situation. Rather than ignore your emotions, lean into them.
Ask yourself why the decision is triggering this emotion. The emotion you often feel is fear. Our brains are hardwired to resist change to keep us safe. When we are about to move our business in a new direction, our brain triggers an alarm, sending us into overthinking mode. “Are you sure you want to do this, because you have no idea what danger lurks ahead?” Take back your power by acknowledging emotion.
Apply the Marie Kondo method if you are drowning in ideas. Take each idea one at a time. Notice what emotions come up as you envision moving forward. If you don’t feel absolute joy and excitement, cross that idea off the list. Life is too short to spend time on ideas that do not light you up. Narrow ideas and options to your top three, and evaluate each one for feasibility, and profitability. Move forward with the best business idea.
Know your vision and core values. Core values are your compass, guiding you toward the options that support who you are, and who you want to be. Identify core values by asking what is important and what you want to be known for.
Write down your vision for the next one, three, and five years. Where do you want to take your business? How much money do you want to make? What impact do you want to have? When you know your values and vision, decisions are evaluated through the lens of does this decision move me toward who I am and where I want to be? It becomes easier to recognize, and say no, to options that will not bring you closer to your goal.
A final step that will help you stop overthinking is to begin cultivating a bias toward action and break your bias toward thinking. We cultivate a bias toward thinking every time we stop to think for an extended period before acting.
If you were driving and couldn’t see the road ahead because of fog, you wouldn’t pull over and wait for it to lift. You would slowly and safely drive forward, knowing you will drive out of that fog. It’s the same process for decision making.
We assume more thinking will lead to clarity. Instead, action creates clarity. Inaction magnifies confusion. If you are unsure, take one small step in any direction. If you pay attention to the results, and how you feel, you get the information.
You are destined for greatness. You will not reach that destination by overanalyzing every decision. Objects in motion stay in motion. Stop thinking and start doing!
Corina Walsh is an author, speaker, and certified professional coach. Through her company, Shift People Development Inc., Corina works with business owners and emerging leaders to help them gain applied leadership skills to grow their business and build engaged, high-performing teams. Corina has delivered keynote addresses and training programs in Canada, the United States, and United Kingdom. Corina is the author of The Engaged Employee Blueprint - Build a Workplace Culture Where Employees Thrive. Corina has been recognized as a Top 50 Leader Under 40 in Atlantic Canada, and a Woman of Distinction in Business by the YWCA.