Gayle Terzis on escaping overthinking and paralyzed decision-making

08 August 2023 4 min. read
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A growing number of professionals are facing with the issue of ‘analysis paralysis’ – the inability to act upon choices, thoughts, or decisions. Also known as the strategy-execution gap at an individual level. Gayle Terzis, a former banker and now an independent career consultant and coach, outlines 8 steps how people can overcome the phenomenon.

Analysis Paralysis is the state of thinking about a decision to the point that a choice never gets made (or much too late). In this case, people are stuck in their heads at the stage of thinking or moreover at the stage of overthinking.

Along with thinking about the various “what if”, people might also be overcomplicating simple decisions because they might feel overwhelmed by the possible outcomes, ultimately fearing not picking the best one.

Gayle Terzis on escaping overthinking and paralyzed decision-making

The roots of analysis paralysis can be traced back to perfectionism. A perfectionist is always set on finding the best solution to all the problems that present themselves regardless of their meaning, their importance, or even their effect on their lives. And because life is messy and imperfect, this black-and-white behavior can lead to overthinking – potentially creating a damaging loop, that if left unchecked, can start to magnify. With time, it can also lead to analysis paralysis.

So how can analysis paralysis be overcome? Eight steps that help people smoothen their decisions:

Determine your goals

It is important to identify your goals in life and learn about who you aspire to become. By envisioning your future self, and knowing what goals are important to you, you will be able to have a clear idea about what your future will look like, giving yourself a guideline.

Work on your priorities and break big tasks down

This guideline will help you determine your priorities and identify which tasks will contribute to making your vision come to life and which ones can be delayed for when the time is right. It can also allow you to break big tasks into smaller, and more manageable ones.

Ask yourself: Are the decisions you are facing, big or small?

It is important to understand which decisions are more important than the rest and give each one of them the appropriate amount of time. Not every decision needs to be carefully thought of for hours on end, and some choices can be made way quicker than others, especially in situations where you have control over the outcome.

Allow yourself to let go and start

Realizing that we have little control over various situations should bring us some comfort and stop us from blaming ourselves when problems arise. When you first start to work on a task, you will start having clear ideas on how to proceed and keep the flow going. Allowing yourself to just start and working on letting go are skill sets that should be consciously mastered because they will eventually help you take concrete actions towards achieving your goals.

Focus on one task or decision

Allowing yourself to focus on one task or making one decision at a time, is a great relief that will help you become more productive and feel more accomplished. You can use various time-management and productivity techniques such as timeboxing.

Become comfortable with making mistakes

Making mistakes is only human after all! Not allowing ourselves to make mistakes and learn from them is not only paralyzing, it is also restrictive to our personal growth. Realizing that everybody makes mistakes and that actually mistakes are an undeniable part of our human nature, is freeing and an incredible step in the right direction.

Practice, practice, practice

Remember, how powerful it is the practice! The skillset we need to work on in order to overcome perfectionism, takes time, patience, and effort. That is why it is important to practice them as soon as our analysis paralysis tendency starts to kick in, and with time, we will even be able to catch ourselves at the overthinking or perfectionism stage.

Reward yourself for all your efforts

While working on improving an aspect of your personality that is causing you distress, it is important to always reward yourself in big and/or small ways to keep yourself motivated.

About the author: Gayle Terzis is an executive and career coach and the founder of Boost Up. She helps mid-senior Level professionals redesign their career and achieve meaningful goals faster, while having a balanced, healthy, happy, and productive life.