7 Ways to Stop Overthinking Big Decisions

I have been known to think a lot about things before making a decision. Sometimes, you could even argue that I think too much. While I completely stand behind the notion that fully considering your options and the impact your decision will have is necessary in order to make good decisions, there is definitely an extreme to this that can do more damage than good.

Some of the damaging results that can come from overthinking include:

  • Lost opportunities from taking too long to decide
  • Increased likelihood that you won’t be able to make a decision at all
  • Feeling paralyzed by the inability to decide
  • Increased fear, anxiety and stress about all decision-making

The good news is that it’s easy to recognize when you’re starting to overthink, and you can stop yourself before you lose sleep or create extra stress. Here are a few things I do to avoid overthinking when I am faced with a big decision.

Just Commit

An obvious solution to overthinking is to make a decision and fully commit to it. Once the decision is made and there’s no going back, you are forced to embrace the decision you made and the risk of overthinking is gone.

Set a Time Limit

Give yourself enough time to consider all of the options, but set a hard stop time. Use the time to think through all of the impacts your decision will have, but force yourself to make a decision and let go when it comes time.

Put It In Perspective

Think about the decision in relation to everything else in your current life and where you expect to be in the future. Even if it directly relates to your ultimate happiness and success, it’s just one decision and is unlikely to make or break everything in your life.

Go with Your Gut

What was your knee-jerk reaction when you first faced the decision? Many times, this is the best choice, and even if you spend days considering your options, your first thought may be the right one.

Ask for Help

If you’re stuck and unsure which way to go, a sounding board can be invaluable. Ask a colleague, family member, friend or even a mentor or a coach. External input can help you put the decision into perspective.

Take a Break

If possible, give yourself a night to sleep on it. It’s amazing how things usually seem clearer when you can approach them with a fresh mind and new outlook.

Give Up on Perfection

Aiming for the perfect outcome can be one of the reasons you have trouble making a decision; I know it is for me! It can help if you remind yourself that nothing is perfect and that no matter what, you will learn something from the process.

Have you ever been caught overthinking a big decision? How did you finally get past it and make a choice?

Image credit: krilm

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  • wwb_99

    Personal favorite trick — flipping a coin. Especially when dealing with a waffling group it works like a charm as it forces people to take sides.

  • chadavan

    I’ve been guilty of the opposite. I make decisions too quickly without thinking them through.

    Going with my gut has gotten me into trouble from time to time.

  • zaidybaby

    I’m a Gemini and I think I’m one half introvert and the other half extrovert. I think a good classification could be a “Load Introvert”. With that being said, depending on the situation I can change my thinking process. Certain cases I’ll jump right into it and go with my gut. Other cases I‘ll give people a time limit, for me to ponder a bit.
    I think a good way of not over thinking is ensuring you have the pro’s and cons, especially if the decision influences a group of individuals and sleeping on it. The next day might bring new solutions.
    Or did I just over think this whole topic?
    P.S. I’m not into stars and the scenario about being a Gemini was just mentioned for a better explanation.

  • neil

    A good label for this problem is analysis paralysis. In truth, most people I’ve ever known (including myself) actually make even really important decisions for emotional reasons and then spend an enormous amount of “think time” rationalising the “gut feeling” decision they’ve made.

    It really comes down to whether you do the rationalising before or after the fact. Such is the nature of being human :-)

  • Dorothy

    Giving up on perfection is the best of the 7 ways, especially for high IQ people that tend to overthink all decisions not just the big ones.
    (my website: http://www.girlszilla.com/)