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How to Push Past Your Analysis Paralysis | Scott H Young

https://www.scotthyoung.com/blog/2019/01/28/analysis-paralysis/

scotthyoung.com

How to Push Past Your Analysis Paralysis | Scott H Young
You know you should really get started but you can't. What if you make the wrong choice? What if you start it out the wrong way, and it all gets ruined? You start to feel that weight in your stomach, that tension in your chest, as you feel a little panic about the idea of going forward.

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Analysis paralysis

It's a form of procrastination.

It happens when you convince yourself you can't go forward with a decision, because you haven't given it enough thought, done enough research or figured things out to get started.

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Why analysis paralysis happens

It has the same root cause as all forms of procrastination. It is caused by the desire to avoid something unpleasant: you don’t want to get started, so you start searching for excuses to justify avoiding the unpleasantness.

And there really are fears, uncertainties or doubts, which make doing more research an attractive excuse.

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Dealing with analysis paralysis

You have to manage 2 realities: 

  • Rationalization: Deal with your rationalization that you need more time to think, plan and research by preventing this excuse from working.
  • Underlying fear: Even if you convince yourself that you are engaging in procrastination and your paralysis is unhelpful, that may not stop you from doing it. Now you need to figure out how to get past it.

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Overcoming Rational Excuses

Spending some time analyzing the possible options is good. But an indefinite amount of time is going to be bad.

The way to get past this is to set constraints. If you set these constraints in advance, then you can undermine the rational part of your mind from using them as a justification for further procrastination.

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Setting Constraints

  • Set a decision deadline (for doing all the research and thinking) with a default (when the deadline passes, you’re stuck with the default).
  • Start blindly, change later. Give yourself a default, and force yourself to work on it for a certain amount of time, before you can go back to research.
  • Leave hard choices open-ended.

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Overcoming Emotional Resistance

You need to remove the anxiety and fear of doing the thing you’re avoiding. Then, you need to remove or invert the pleasant feeling you get from stalling:

  • Give yourself small doses of the thing you’re scared of to diminish the fear it generates.
  • Punish yourself for failure to act. 

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Paradox of Choice

Paradox of Choice
It means that while increased choice allows us to achieve objectively better results, it also leads to greater anxiety, indecision, paralysis, and dissatisfaction.

Overthinking lowers your performance

Our working memory is what allows us to focus on the information we need to get things done at the moment we’re doing them. It is also in limited supply. You can think of it like our brain’s computer memory. Once it’s used up, nothing more can fit in.

When you overanalyze a situation, the repetitive thoughts, anxiety, and self-doubt decrease the amount of working memory you have available to complete challenging tasks, causing your productivity to plummet.

Overthinking kills your creativity

A recent Stanford study suggests that over-thinking not only impedes our ability to perform cognitive tasks but keeps us from reaching our creative potential as well.

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There are a few different ways you can go about setting a goal or creating a new habit.

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Minimum targeting works well for establishing long-term habits.

A goal of, for instance, doing fifty push-ups every day might not be ideal for fitness, but doing something is better than doing nothing.

Another reason to focus on the minimum is that it assumes the difficulty is in starting. To start a process can often be the hardest. Then you want to set a lower threshold to make starting as easy as possible.

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Focusing on the average makes sense when you're hoping to sustain something, even if it is not always a perfectly easy and consistent output.

It works when you are already putting in a bit of effort, but want to improve that effort over the long-term.

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Explaining inaction

Some possible but weak reasons why action is hard:

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  • Capacity for effort. If your capacity for doing things is lower, it does not explain chronic bursts of activity with inevitable crashes in your goals and projects.
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Confidence

Motivation and expectation of success create a feedback loop:
  • Your motivation to complete a task depends on the value of the reward and your expectation of success. 
  • Your expectation of success depends on your motivation.

If your projects tend to fail, your expectations are low, and motivation fades. If your projects tend to succeed, your expectations go up, and motivation stays strong.