How To Stop Analysis Paralysis

[3 Minute Read + Examples + Activities]I use one purpose, one time and four questions to reflect on progress and to stop analysis paralysis.

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How To Stop Analysis Paralysis (And Get Things Done)

I use one purpose, one time and four questions to reflect on progress and to stop analysis paralysis.

PHOTO: Contemplating my next step in a solo adventure, near Mancora north Peru, in 2018.

What’s in play and what’s not

There are well-trodden pathways to many of the bold goals we want to achieve. Choose any sporting, business, or creative pursuit, and the internet will have a guide for mastering it. Those who have gone before you distil their journey into bullet points for you to follow. The path to success has never been more straightforward.

So, with the red carpet to success rolled out, why do many people still not live their bold goals?

Your prefrontal cortex just did an eye roll, “It’s because of me, darling. I love to over-complicate things.”

The prefrontal cortex is the Head Professor in the Analytics department inside your brain. When you sit down to reflect, it steps up to the lectern and cues a 400-slide presentation. It will share every permeation, problem and possibility until your head plonks on the table in dire disillusion. You’ll end up with reams of fear-inducing spreadsheets, ideas and to-do lists but no practical way forward.

If you want to escape analysis paralysis and live your bold goals, you must learn to put the Professor in its place.

  • Set limitations for your prefrontal cortex before you reflect.
  • Dictate a clear purpose and time limit.
  • Define the boundaries of your investigations.

You must spell out what is in play and what’s not and then blow the whistle if it dares to step outside the lines. Do that, and you’ll harness the power of your mind for progress rather than procrastination.

I set tight limits for my goal reflections

Let me roll out the red carpet for you and step you through how I do reflection. I set one purpose, one point in time and four questions.

One purpose.

My reflection aims to identify one behaviour that will empower me to achieve my vision.

One point in time.

The focus of the reflection shared below was a 90-Day action plan that commenced on 11/11/21. I reflected for no more than one hour, and only once, no revisiting after the fact.

PHOTO: My 30-60-90 Day plan starting 11/11/2021.

Four questions.

These questions elicit the best behaviours to achieve my goal.

  1. What was my intended destination?
  2. How close did I get to my destination?
  3. What is my proudest point of progress?
  4. What change in behaviour will I take forward?

Wait, what? Where’s the detail?

If you are regularly overthinking, the results from my reflection will look superficial. That’s your prefrontal cortex wanting to create its 400-slide presentation.

Keep in mind that when pursuing a bold goal, there will be lots of points of reflection along the way. Take only small bites of insight from each one because what you bite off, you then have to chew and swallow.

Working Example: 90-Day Reflection

Q1. What was my intended destination?

You’ll see on my 90-Day plan above that I have written goals for three priorities, which were:

  • Priority 1: Gathering my tribe – letting the people close to me know what I’m doing
  • Priority 2: Fear Club – fun challenges enabling Go-Getters to bust mental barriers
  • Priority 3: Jewellery range – think Pandora meets prayer beads. Earned on finishing ’bouts’ in Fear Club.

Q2. How close did I get to my destination?

I achieved my 30-day goals and dipped into my 60-day goals but flatlined on my 90-day goals.

The main barrier to my success was expecting too much progress within the time available. I can dedicate around 15 hours a week to Go-Getter’s Compass, and it’s not the highest priority in my life. Tasks get dropped down the list behind the needs of my family or the farm. Also, I failed to account for the summer holidays happening during this period.

Q3. What is my proudest point of progress?

I killed my darling.

Stephen King, an expert at these things, planted the idea in my head.

“Kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.”

~ Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of The Craft

The darling, in this instance, was the first iteration of Go-Getter’s Compass. In 2020 and 2021, I ran a series of workshops that I thought were the natural pathway for what I wanted to achieve. After doing the workshops, I spotted some significant issues with my direction.

  • The content was too complex; some university degrees are easier
  • It required a lot of discipline for the participants to live the principles in the real world
  • The workshop format was like the consulting model I’d lived with for 20 years; I wanted a change
  • The structure didn’t scale efficiently for global engagement

I had invested a lot of sweat, time, and hope when creating Go-Getter’s Compass V1.0. My gut twisted in a knot when I moved the files on my laptop from the “Current Projects” folder into “Past Documents”.

It felt like a massive step backwards, but I’m proud that I found the courage to do it. It created space for better ideas to shine. Shortly after, the concept of “Girl Scouts for grown-ups” popped.

PHOTO: Proof of Life that Sean is indeed alive and well and he wasn’t the darling subjected to Stephen King’s philosophy.

Q4. What change in behaviour will I take forward into the next 90 days?

I will stop overloading my work program and start giving more time and space for my plans to bear fruit.

My hectic work pace and hunger for results have produced a lot of fruit in the past, but I question its quality. Pushing ideas out fast is like picking tomatoes when they’re still green. Sure, they are edible, but they will only ever be suitable for chutney.

A relaxed and happy mind is more creative and capable than a mind locked on adrenal alert. That’s the behaviour change I will focus on for my coming 90-Day period. Let’s see the difference it makes if I choose to be less Tassie Devil and more Dalai Lama.

Discover more about your bold mind every Monday

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