I want to know if I'm alone in this. I've thought about this a long time and I just can't decide if it's a strength or a weakness.
Okay, here it is. I don't overthink.
There I said it.
Whew that feels good! I've been that way for as long as I can remember. While other first graders were carefully checking over every answer of their quiz, I was flying through the questions, going with my first thoughts on each one. For the most part, I did pretty well like that. I made A's and B's and my teacher's only complaint to my parents was: “Slooowww dowwwnn when you're doing your work.”
Apparently, she thought I was rushing through things and it was affecting my performance. Many years later in college. I was still always the first one done with tests. My classmates would give me HORRIFIED looks as I walked to the front of the room and turned in my exams. I wasn't racing anyone and I wasn't trying to rush through my work. In fact, often times I would look over my work several times and I still felt more than confident turning it in well before everyone else.
So, am I a careless, flighty person, or am I just extremely confident in trusting my gut? I like to think the latter. In any major decision – college, prom dresses, purchasing decorations – I always seem to make up my mind quickly and I mostly stick with my original decision. While some tend to second guess themselves and try on multiple options, I know my truth when I see it and I am most happy to make my choice final and move on. Very rarely do I experience regret when I trust my intuition. My theory is, when you know, you know.
Overthinking is an enemy of productivity
Are you like that, or do you overthink a lot? While thinking is very beneficial, I'm afraid that overthinking is an enemy of productivity. I know many people who try to do their best, but fail due to overthinking a problem.
Other times I've witnessed creative masters destroy themselves because of their lack of acceptance in their own work. They think they can do better and so they keep pushing and keep working and keep changing a product that was finished a long time ago. They simply lack the ability to accept their work the way it is and walk away. This often times leads to paralysis by overthinking.
Overthinking causes paralysis
Despite my careless ways, I too, have fallen victim to overthinking. This most commonly happens in a field I know I have many thoughts about. A type of industry I've studied and know how to interact with. When you are new at something you really don't have the audacity to overthink things and so you act either on impulse or by instruction. Once you've mastered something, it is easier to overthink it.
For me, marketing is a great example of this. I seem to be able to do this for everyone else but myself. When it comes to my own work, I almost always overthink my marketing strategy. What if I change my mind later on? If I do change my mind, then I don't want to start marketing what I have now. I'd rather start fresh with the one idea that's going to last me a lifetime. I mean, how will people know my distinct style if I change my mind after I've already spent time and effort marketing a different style? Maybe I just won't market my stuff yet. Actually, I don't even think I should share it with anyone until I know it's perfectly how I want it...and that's never going to happen.
Invevitably I allow my fear and paranoia to paralyze my creative endevours. Nothing changes. Nothing gets done. No one benefits.
But is that any way to live the one and only life we've been given?? I think not. Paralysis can be deadly to not only your career but your personal relationships and creative ambition. It isn't a pretty picture. How's that for overthinking?
Have you experienced this? The anxiety of small, daily decisions can easily wrap itself around our thoughts so intensely that we become completely paralyzed in our ability to make healthy, productive motions towards reaching our goals. In that aspect, overthinking destroys dreams.
Think about it, how many dreams have you let die because you thought about them too long? How many awesome opportunities have slipped through your fingers, not because you didn't want to jump on them, but because you thought about it so hard that you psyched yourself out of doing it?
Overthinking murders our ambitious thoughts, before they have a chance to blossom.
What dream has overthinking destroyed for you? What decision-making process has overthinking currently delayed in your life? Maybe you are similar to me in that you make quick and precise judgements and that has served you well. Maybe you're an over-thinker who delights in pondering. Both can have devastating effects, but I've never had regrets trusting my gut instinct.
Overthinking shadows your gut-intuition that points you to true north
I've said it before, but that thing that keeps your daydreams active, the thing that gnaws at you day and night, you know the thing...that's your gut talking. Your gut is perfectly capable of making destiny-shaping decisions for your benefit. The scary part is trusting that gut and acting on that thing. What is it that you need to trust? What is that gut feeling that you've let fall dormant to the curse of overthinking?
Are you thinking you aren't good enough? You aren't ready. You don't have enough support. You can't afford it. You won't make a difference.
Whatever your thoughts are, you have to push them all aside, take a deep breath and sit very still so that you can hear that soft, warm voice in your gut telling you exactly what you should be doing at this very moment of life.
Your intuition and the passion in your belly tie together perfectly. They were placed there for a reason, not by accident.
It takes real courage to step out and trust this inkling, but you'll regret forever if you don't try. Use today to take a small step in that direction. Do something brave that affirms that intuitive passion of yours. I dare ya!