It's easy to fall into the trap of overthinking when you have an important decision to make. You go back and forth endlessly as you struggle to determine what your best move is. Yet instead of making progress, you find yourself right back where you started.
Much of this overthinking happens when you're committed to making “perfect” decisions with the hope everything will turn out exactly as planned. But given the complexity of life with all its twists and turns, there’s always the potential for something unexpected to come along and throw things off.
With that said, decisions have consequences, sometimes far-reaching ones, so you want to invest time and care to make the best decisions possible.
Here are four ways to make healthy, sound decisions without overthinking.
1. Gain clarity by writing things out.
Instead of ruminating over a decision endlessly in your head, gain clarity by getting things out of your head and down on paper. The actual process of writing things down, and then the process of seeing things laid out in writing, will both lead to deeper insight.
Are you considering multiple options and struggling to determine which one is best? Start by writing all the options down. Identify key criteria you know you need to take into account when making your decision, and rate each option based on that criteria. Doing this breaks the overthinking loop by giving you something concrete to focus on; and rating the options helps you look at them more objectively.
Once you're finished, you might find even though you gave a certain option the highest rating, you don’t feel completely at ease going with it. That’s okay; take things a step further by writing about how you’re feeling and what your reservations are. Once again, the process of writing will keep you moving forward and making headway, so you don’t get stuck in an overthinking loop.
2. Don't try to predict the future.
Remember that old saying, “look before you leap”? It makes sense to take some time to look ahead before you take action; doing so can help you avoid costly mistakes. But you can’t predict the future. Everyone's life is filled with a few surprises, both good and bad. An essential part of getting through life is learning how to deal with these unexpected surprises when they land on your doorstep.
When faced with a big decision, it’s tempting to want to look into the future and visualize how things will play out. In reality, all you can do is make what seems like the best decision based on the information you have to work with in the present. No matter what you decide, accept that you never know when or how you might get hit with a curve ball you never saw coming. Have faith in yourself that when the future arrives, you’ll find a way to deal with it.
3. Recognize when some fallout is inevitable.
Are you looking for an easy solution to a challenging situation? Are you trying to please everyone around you in hopes that you don’t ruffle any feathers? Are you aiming for a tidy, happy ending even though deep down, you know that's unlikely?
Life can be messy and complicated at times. That means there are bound to be occasions where any decision you make will have some negative consequences or fallout. For instance:
Attempting to avoid the inevitable can lead to overthinking. Be honest with yourself and recognize when you do indeed know what you need to do, you’re just feeling reluctant to do it because you know it comes with a cost.
4. Get clear on your values.
One of the best ways to avoid overthinking is by getting clear on your values. Your values keep you grounded. They serve as important guideposts as you navigate through the decision-making process.
If you’re struggling with overthinking as you try to make a decision, set the decision aside and focus on your values:
Once you’re clear on your values, you’re no longer operating based on feelings, a whim, or some other random element. You’ll be far less susceptible to overthinking and far more confident in arriving at a decision that aligns with who you are and your life on a whole.
Tips for achieving optimal wellness, inside and out.