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Avoiding Analysis Paralysis

As an introvert, you're a deep thinker and you like to consider every angle of a problem. And that's a good thing — except when it leads to something called analysis paralysis. What is analysis paralysis? It's what happens when you get so carried away analyzing every aspect of a situation that you can't come to a decision. Instead, you just sit there, paralyzed, doing nothing.

As an introvert, you're prone to analysis paralysis for a few reasons:

  • You draw your energy from focusing inward, not outward. That means you spend a lot of time in your head, mulling your thoughts. And all that thinking can lead to excessive worry, especially about making wrong decisions.

  • You're likely to be a "worst case scenario" kind of person and fret a lot about what could go wrong after you make a decision. As a result, you'll want to figure every detail out in advance. But that's impossible, and searching for guarantees will just leave you more anxious and paralyzed.

  • You're skilled at research and planning, so you come up with more possible approaches to a problem. And the more choices you have, the harder it is to pick one.

Analysis paralysis is bad news in the workplace, where it can keep you from starting and finishing your projects on time. And it's bad news in your personal life because it can keep you from moving ahead in relationships (or ending them when you should). In addition, the stress that analysis paralysis causes can give you headaches and leave you anxious and sleepless. At its worst, it can even make you depressed.

Luckily, there are ways to prevent analysis paralysis — or to get over it if you find yourself avoiding a decision. Here are some of the best approaches:

  • Set a firm deadline for making your decision, and stick to it. Tell other people to be ruthless with you if you don't.

  • Don't seek perfection. Instead, assume that any project you undertake is likely to have a few flaws, and decide to be okay with that.

  • Move from thinking to acting. Pick one part of your project that you can begin on, even if it's just a tiny part. (And when you do complete a step, reward yourself.) Often, you'll create enough momentum to move you forward.

  • Figure out which decisions you need to make immediately and which you can postpone. Focus on the ones you need to make now and save the rest for later, even if you don't feel comfortable doing things this way.

Finally, remind yourself that your project is more likely to fail if you don't make a timely decision than if you do. In other words, endlessly twiddling your thumbs is the worst of your choices, so take it off the table!

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