5 steps to beat Analysis Paralysis (from a pro procrastinator)
Are you buried in charts and planners and worksheets? Have you been researching how to launch your blog for the last three months? Do you keep telling friends, family, and followers that your product is *almost* ready?
You, my friend, may be suffering from "Analysis Paralysis." This is the state of overthinking or over-analyzing or over-planning a situation to the point that you never end up taking action. The result is lots of time spent making beautifully detailed plans that never see the light of day.
As an aspiring entrepreneur, Analysis Paralysis can effectively cripple your business before you even start. Studies have shown that over-planning can actually stifle your creativity and make future decision making more difficult. Additionally it is exhausting to continually second guess yourself. These repercussions add up and when you finally do take action, you won't be operating at your full capacity.
You're not alone! A few months ago, I could have answered "yes" to all those questions. I knew I was stuck and needed to move forward if I was ever going to achieve my business goals. It's terrifying to put yourself and your work out there, but I promise it's worth it!
So, how do you break the nasty cycle of analysis paralysis?
Here are the 5 steps you can take,
to confidently move forward today:
1. identify the problem
There is always some unspoken fear that does the actual crippling with analysis. Fear of failure or fear of embarrassment are the usual culprits. Ultimately we choose to believe the fear that tells us we're not good enough, not smart enough, or not prepared enough to take the first step. We allow that fear to trap us in a holding pattern of "research" and self-doubt.
The first step to solving any problem is admitting that there is one, so honestly identify the fear that is holding you back, write it on a piece of paper, and throw it away!
"...failure is not the outcome, failure is not trying. Don't be afraid to fail." - Sara Blakely
2. Anticipate & Accept Mistakes
Unless you were born in an office, nobody just *knows* how to run a business. Nobody just *knows* how to write well, or paint, or sell. Everyone starts at 0.
0 followers, 0 clients, 0 experience - reading one more article on Social Media marketing or conversion rates won't change that. If you anticipate and accept the fact that you will make mistake, doors will open for you.
You'll discover that perfection is boring and nobody wants to work with a perfect person. If you approach your business with passion and humility you'll find that most people are very gracious and forgiving of the occasional mistake or breach of etiquette. There are actually a lot of people who would love to support you in your business ventures. If you take this to heart and anticipate that you will make mistakes; you can surround yourself with people who have been there and who will accept and encourage you as you stumble and learn.
So take a lesson from one of my favorite teachers: "Take Chances, Make MISTAKES, Get Messy!"
It's the only way we learn.
3. Don't Confuse "Perfection" and "Success"
Perfection is a goal post that keeps moving farther and farther away. It's always unattainable. There will always be another article, another book, another webinar that you could do to perfect your business plan. All of those resources are good things but only when applied to attainable goals. Give yourself permission to be imperfect and focus instead on being successful.
For some of us, success is getting out of bed in the morning, or finally hitting "publish" on that first blog post. That's whats so wonderful about "success" - you get to set your own goal. You get to decide how far you go and what success is for you. Isn't that why you want to start your own business in the first place?
Vince Lombardi was 100% right when he said, "The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand." In your business, hard work, dedication, and persistence will equal success. Planning can help, but that's all it can do. You can choose today to wholeheartedly pursue success or you can be paralyzed by perfection.
4. Set Goals & Prioritize
Are you already overwhelmed by goals and charts and worksheets? Cut through that clutter and write one single goal. Just one. Maybe it's to sell one item. Maybe it's to finish your book. Maybe it's to send that email. Write down your one goal and then list the steps you know you need to take to accomplish that goal. To stay focused you can filter all other activities through the Eisenhower Decision Matrix.
Simply put, you deal with the important/urgent items first, followed by the urgent/not-important as they arise, then on to the important/not-urgent, and finally the not urgent or important.
Let's face it: reading one more "how to" is probably not "important" or "urgent" to achieving your goal.
5. Take Action!
Nike's slogan "Just do it" needs to become yours. There are a few ways you can make sure that you take action:
Set a deadline - Deadlines are fantastic for lighting a fire under us! Put it on the calendar and circle it.
Tell someone - Tell someone your goal and the deadline you have set for yourself. Tell a few people. Make sure these are people who will ask about your progress and support you as you strive towards your goal.
Eliminate Options - Instead of trying to pick the "best" course of action, eliminate the ten bad options. Narrowing your options will help you fight against decision fatigue.
Take one small step - This article gets no printable checklist or worksheet - you have plenty of those - you're probably drowning in them. So take out a blank piece of paper, write down your goal and go for it. Take that first step. Even if you mess it up, even if you do it wrong, take that first step.
Then take another one.