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Stuck in Analysis Paralysis?

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If analysis paralysis sounds scary, that's because it is.

Why? Because getting stuck in analysis paralysis means you spend more time thinking, learning, researching, planning, fortune telling, playing out possible scenarios, and getting ready to work on your goal than you do taking action.

This robs you of new opportunities, personal growth, and a fulfilling life.

Analysis paralysis can appear at any time in the goal journey, but I've found that it most likely appears at the very beginning before any action is taken, or at times when the work gets hard and you revert to 'research mode' because you think you need to learn more before moving forward.

While research and preparation have their place in the goal journey, getting stuck in analysis paralysis often leads to something you want to avoid -- never beginning.

What is Analysis Paralysis?

Also known as decision paralysis or choice overload, analysis paralysis is a psychological phenomenon where you become overwhelmed by an abundance of options or information that's available to you. This makes it difficult for you to make decisions or in the case of your goals, take action.

Overanalyzing or overthinking about your goal 'paralyzes' you and keeps you from moving forward.

Causes of Analysis Paralysis

Aside from going down the rabbit hole of research in the name of 'learning', there are some other things that could be at play that are making it difficult for you to move forward with your goals:

Fear of Failure: Your mind loves to catastrophize and think the worst will happen if you go for your goal and mess up. It throws negative consequences and the threat of embarrassment in for good measure.

Fear of Success: You worry about what will happen when you succeed -- will you be able to maintain your success? Will life change? Will your success cause others to feel bad? These unknowns are your primal brain's way of keeping you playing small and out of the spotlight.

Overweighting the Decision: You pressure yourself into making the 'right' choice and imagine the negative consequences of what might happen if you don't.

Doubt: You question your ability to make good decisions or to choose wisely. Sometimes you base this on a feeling of being unqualified (imposter syndrome) or from comparing yourself to others.

Looking Backward Instead of Forward: Recalling past mistakes or bad decisions can keep you from your confidence with a fear of making the wrong choices again.

Overcoming Analysis Paralysis

Overcoming analysis paralysis requires an intentional decision. This means getting out of your head and setting some boundaries.

Set a Decision Date: Allow yourself time to explore your options, but also set a date for a decision -- and then honor it.

Limit Your Options: Pare down your choices to just a few of your favorites or the most important ones. Having fewer to consider will help save you from spinning in confusion.

Take a Tiny Action: I've always believed that action brings clarity. Allow yourself to take a small step in one direction to see if it is the right one for you. If it's not, try another.

Define Your Decision Criteria: Before you begin examining your options, decide what criteria are most important to you. Then look at your options through this lens and decide.

Redefine Mistakes and Failure: Mistakes are just data that tells you that you tried one thing that didn't get the results you were hoping for. The only way to truly fail is to stop trying.

Leaving Your Comfort Cave

It is my professional experience that when goal-setters get stuck in analysis paralysis, it's often because they are afraid to head out of their Comfort Cave to try something new.

Understand that this is completely normal. Your primal brain does not want you to make decisions that could lead to your growth. Analysis paralysis is just one of the many roadblocks it uses to keep you stuck.

Ultimately, the decision to move forward is up to you. Set boundaries or guidelines, make decisions, and take some kind of action. Don't get stuck in the comfort of not making hard decisions that often comes with analysis paralysis.

Your big goals are waiting.

Want more tips to fly to help you become a goal-GETTER? Listen to The Flight School Podcast here.

Jen Laffin wearing a brightly flowered dress, glasses, smiling at the camera

Jen Laffin is an Accountability & Success Mentor for people who like to finish big goals, a master teacher, host of The Flight School Podcast, a possible thinker, and a recovering procrastinator. She helps goal-SETTERS become goal-GETTERS. To learn more, visit, or find Jen on Linkedin.


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