By Scott Maudz
Being a leader requires confidence, decisiveness, and quick thinking–none of which are served by overthinking every decision or scenario or worrying about every move you make. There’s a time to think, a time to act, a time to reflect, and a time to move forward. Here are 11 mental tricks to dash the dissecting and stop the overscrutinizing.
1. Reopen the door only when new information knocks.
Overthinking goes into overdrive when we keep revisiting decisions we make, refusing to close the door on a call that has been made. Believe that you’ve done your due diligence, and revisit something you’ve already decided only when you’re presented with new information.
2. Know that overthinking and problem solving aren’t the same thing.
Constantly ruminating and going over scenarios and possibilities often disguises itself as problem solving. It feels like you’re doing something good and useful. But you’re not, you’re just spinning in a circle. Recognize when you’re overthinking something, don’t act like it’s problem solving, and press fast-forward.
3. Remember the 90-10 rule.
This is a formula, a ratio, for how you should calculate how you value yourself, based on 90 percent self-worth, 10 percent assigned worth. Ninety percent should come from your self-acceptance and self-appreciation, and just 10 percent from that occasional sliver of external validation we all need.
4. Assume good intent.
Overthinkers read too much into things. Why? They’re assuming something bad lies underneath, something like a bad perception, someone wishing them ill, or an unfavorable outcome. When you catch yourself doing this, switch your assumption to what you’re reading into was well-intended, or at least neutral. The vast majority of the time, it really is, so why not act like it?
5. Embrace informed ignorance.
News flash: You can’t read the future, you can’t read minds, and you can’t know everything. So don’t try. Thinking harder doesn’t activate the crystal ball.
6. Embrace uncertainty.
When we don’t know something, we tend to fill in the blanks, often with garbage assumptions. Why? Many of us would rather be unhappy than uncertain. Garbage assumptions can take many forms, all infusing themselves into the inner monologue of the overthinker.
7. Replace “what if” with “we’ll see.”
Overthinkers keep asking themselves “what if,” which is an impossible question to answer. If you catch yourself asking “what if,” quickly switch it to “we’ll see,” which is a way of moving past analysis paralysis to acceptance.