"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself. And burnout. Definitely burnout. "
-Franklin D. Roosevelt (probably)
If you’re anything like me you have a love for analyzing every decision, problem, and project form every possible angle. Then, after your thorough analysis is complete, you decide on the most foolproof course of action that will minimize, nay, completely destroy the possibility of the “F” word:
Except, there’s always a “what if” nagging at the back of your mind. It’s like a piece of sand in your oyster mouth. Except instead of turning into a nice little pearl that little piece of sand scratches and grates on you every time you do something. It’s the “D” word:
It feels like you’ve barely started and already you’re beginning to doubt your perfect plan. Suddenly, the project you put so much faith in is starting to look like not such a good idea after all. Your perfect plan for your life has a tiny crack that grows ever bigger, harder to ignore as the days wear on.
Then, it happens. The “S” word. Suddenly, you
The wheels stop. You get off the “progress express” and wait at the to board the next train. You need to wait at the station. Maybe you boarded the first train too early. Maybe you didn’t have the right timetable. Maybe the train you were on was going in a roundabout way. You made a mistake in your calculations. It’s okay. You’ll get it right next time. There will always be another train. You can try again in a few weeks. A few months. A couple years...
The emotional result of all this rigmarole? A nice little goodie bag filled with any (or all) of the following:
LOSS OF CONFIDENCE
And, my personal favorite: DEPRESSION.
Does this sound familiar? I’m gonna assume “yes” since you’re still here.
The past few weeks have taught me an important lesson about “overthink.”
IN ORDER TO MOVE FORWARD WITH YOUR GOALS/DREAMS/PROJECT/WHATEVER…
SHUT. THAT. BRAIN. DOWN.
Why? As some character in a movie I no longer remember once said, “To a man with a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.”
Meaning, your brain did a really good job getting the idea, envisioning, and refining it. It’s done it’s job. You can take it from here. You’re more than qualified. Except your brain doesn’t know that. It doesn't know how to quit while it’s ahead.
So, it over analyzes everything you do. It constantly looks for proof that you’re making progress. That you’re really making the best most sensible decision every second of every minute of every day until you die.
Is it any wonder we buckle under the weight of this insane mental strain?
Now , to be clear, this isn’t about changing your approach or cutting your losses once you found out something really wasn’t working for a valid reason.
No, this is about when you’re your own worst critic and stumbling block. When you throw one too many “what if’s” and “but’s” at yourself and sabotage your journey instead of just letting it unfold, with all the good, bad, and ugly.
So what do you do to continue and not let the thing that helped you start be the reason you stop prematurely?
Even if you can do more or want to do more, limit yourself. Doing a lot of something and doing it often makes it really easy for the brain to throw doubts and objections about how, what, and why you’re doing things. Better to do a little every day and consistently chip away than go for one big push and then put the poject on pause indefinitely or abandon it altogether. Think of it like an ant depositing one grain of sand by the water’s edge. In time there will be a beach. Better than the human who starts off strong with a couple shovels of sand and leaving the vision unfinished.
Start small. Aim for consistency and progress. You’ll thank yourself for it later.
When you start to feel doubts or objections creep in, don’t do what you always do. Don’t read that disruptive text message your brain is sending you that will cause you to spiral. It’s not going to help you. It’s not truthful. You don’t have to listen to it. SO DON’T.
Instead, when you feel the overthink begin to happen, rewire your brain and choose something else to fixate on. For me, I like to just take a break and just blank out my mind until the apprehension has passed. When that doesn't work, I put some pumped up music on full blast and replace the thoughts with some pumped up beats until the waters of my mind have stilled and I can continue.
Like anything you’re doing for the first time, know it’s not gonna stick right away. You’re rewiring your brain. You’re literally taking YEARS or an ingrained thought process and rewriting the script. It ain’t gonna happen overnight but it will happen.
Don’t give up. Keep at it. You can do it, friend. I’m rooting for ya. :)
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