Stop Overthinking, Start Excelling

You can’t be that kid standing at the top of the waterslide, overthinking it. You have to go down the chute.

Tina Fey
[3-min read]

The Maze of My Mind

Two years ago, I found myself tangled in a web of my own thoughts.

Preparing for a major presentation to my $4B company’s CEO and executive team, I replayed every detail in my mind, obsessing over the what-ifs.

“What if they don’t like it? What if I forget something crucial?”

I’d made many presentations like this in my career. So why was I so concerned?

This wasn’t just thorough preparation; it was overthinking. It robbed me of sleep and filled my days with anxiety. The impact was undeniable. I knew something had to change.

That’s when I started my journey to untangle my thoughts and take back control.

Understanding Overthinking

Overthinking is like a hamster wheel. It keeps you moving but gets you nowhere.

It’s a common trap, especially in our high-stress, fast-paced world.

Psychology tells us it’s part of our natural defense mechanism, where our brain tries to anticipate and solve problems before they happen.

But when overdone, it leads to analysis paralysis, affecting decision-making and overall well-being.

Your Toolkit to Overcome Overthinking

Ready to tackle overthinking head-on? Here are some no-nonsense strategies that have worked for me and many others. Let’s get straight to it:

  1. Set Time Limits for Decisions: Assign a specific timeframe for making decisions. Small decisions get 5 minutes, bigger ones, a day or two. Stick to it. This approach forces your mind to focus on the essentials, not the endless “what-ifs.”

  2. Embrace “Good Enough”: Perfection is a myth. Aim for “good enough” instead. It’s about making progress, not achieving perfection. This mindset frees you from over-analysis. Remember, “good and done” is better than waiting for it to be perfect.

  3. Mindfulness: Practice mindfulness to stay grounded in the now. It helps to quiet the noise in your head. If you’re new to meditation or have struggled with it before (🙋), try the FitMind app or the Netflix series: Headspace Guide to Meditation. Both are science-backed, approachable methods to learn in a few minutes a day.

  4. Physical Activity: Exercise is good for the body and the mind. It helps clear mental clutter, reducing the space for overthinking. Whether it’s a daily jog, yoga, or just stretching, regular movement can significantly boost your mental clarity.

  5. Journaling: Put your thoughts on paper. It’s a great way to organize and see them clearly. Daily reflections or bullet-point lists can help you manage and understand your overthinking patterns.

Making It Work for You

It’s about small steps. Start by identifying one area where you overthink. Apply these strategies there first.

Here are four examples to get you started:

Morning Routine: Begin each day with a 5-min decision-making exercise. Choose your outfit or plan your day within this time frame.

Work Tasks: Apply the “good enough” principle to your emails. Aim to respond briefly and efficiently, rather than crafting the perfect reply.

Social Interactions: Practice mindfulness in conversations. Focus fully on the other person. Use active listening to stay present and avoid drifting into overthought.

Evening Reflection: Spend 5 - 10 mins journaling before bed. Reflect on the day's events and write down any lingering thoughts to clear your mind for sleep.

Diving Deeper

To explore this topic further, I recommend watching Mel Robbins’ TED Talk, How to Stop Screwing Yourself Over.

And for you readers, The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle is a brilliant resource for understanding and practicing mindfulness. Also, check out Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow for insights into how your mind works.

Connecting the Dots

Taming overthinking isn’t just about quieting your mind; it’s about freeing yourself to live more fully.

It’s transforming from being stuck in endless loops of “what-ifs” to embracing a life of purpose and action.

Remember, you control your thoughts; they don’t control you. Start taking small steps today, and watch as your world opens up to new possibilities.

Until next time, think less and live more my friend.