Do you overthink everything?
When I first started my coaching business over a decade ago, I spent hours and hours feverishly writing and creating systems for my non-existent clients.
Content was written for pamphlets that were never printed, a website that didn’t exist, and information about coaching that never left my hard drive. I believed that I had to have all these little pieces in place before I could actually start coaching clients.
Hours and hours were spent planning what I would do, how I would do it, and the systems I’d need in place. It made me feel like I was being productive, proactive, and even responsible for thinking about all these moving pieces and how I would use them.
When I really dove into my business, I realized that all that writing I had done was a complete waste of time. I never used any of it.
And all my plans? Useless. It was all garbage.
I had spent so much time thinking about my business but almost no time doing the work that would get me paying clients.
Plans are a diversion and a big distraction that keep us busy with being unproductive.
It was clear that I was far more comfortable thinking about my business than doing the work to build it.
We can’t possibly plan or foresee things we haven’t yet experienced. In other words: we can’t know what we don’t know. We can only truly know what needs to come next once we’ve taken action.
I wish I could say that I stopped overthinking after that, but I’m a slow learner.
It’s taken me many years to teach myself to switch from: think first (of allllllllll the possible scenarios repeatedly, just in case I missed something) and act later, to acting first and thinking later (which is so much better, btw!).
Some of my most popular offerings have come out of a split-second decision and a quick email invite. I’ve also saved myself a lot of time by learning quickly what offerings my tribe isn’t interested in before I invest too much developing them.
Learning how to fail fast is one of the best skills you can cultivate.
Essentially, it’s taking action and then seeing what to do next. It will give you insight you could only get by doing the work: how to proceed or maybe to scrap it.
Failing fast a huge time saver, but most importantly, its also a proven way to increase confidence. Since overthinking is a HUGE confidence killer, failing fast is definitely worth trying on.
I’ve broken it down into a simple 5 step method (that you can use with just about anything) to help you stop overthinking:
1)Be clear on what you want.
Most of us have no idea of what it is we really want. We might have an inkling, but no real clear picture. If you don’t have a clear “what” defined, it’s very difficult to create an effective “how” (which is where we get caught overthinking). Once you are clear on what you want, your how will be easier to see.
2) Decide what actions are going to get you there the fastest.
Rather than spending your time thinking about all the possible scenarios that might-never-happen-but-should-think-about-every-detail-of-each-scenario-anyways, cut the chase and figure out what might be the best actions that would get you there the fastest.
3) Ask yourself if spending time planning it is going to help you get there.
Make it a conscious decision to plan, instead of a diversion from what you actually need to do. Maybe there is some planning that needs to be involved, great, then be strategic in it. If you know that planning isn’t going to make a huge difference, other than your brain desperately wants to do it, then let that shit go.
4) If you need think about it write it all out and give it a deadline.
Do NOT think about planning, write that shit down. When we allow things to roll around in our heads they get cluttered, are hard to prioritize, and are impossible to sort out clearly. Once it’s on paper you free up valuable head space and have power over your thoughts. Give yourself a deadline of how much time you are willing to devote to planning, and then stick to it so you don’t continually get sucked in.
5) Take action before you’re ready.
This is the MOST important step (besides number 1). If you wait until you feel ready, you may be waiting a long time, even years maybe. Do not waste anymore of your life waiting for a feeling, decide, and then jump in. There are very few decisions in our lives that have the weight and power we give to most of them. You will never know the next steps until you take action, no matter how much planning you do. It is the only way to move forward.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned (very slowly, like I said) is to focus on progress rather than perfection…and progress requires doing something other than thinking about doing something.
(Otherwise we’d all be sitting on the couch eating chips thinking about eating better to get healthier, am I right? But, if you ever figure out how to do it though, tell me, I’d love to get in on it!)
I’d love to hear from you now: which step resonated with you, and why? Do you eat chips on the couch thinking about eating healthier too, or is it just me? Are you sick of overthinking everything?