017: Is Overthinking Misunderstood?

017: Is Overthinking Misunderstood?
Photo by Joel Lee / Unsplash

I have a chronic condition.

I'm an overthinker.

Since I'm confessing, I believe it's time to "rethink" overthinking.

In my opinion, overthinking is basically misunderstanding the power of imperfect action.

There's immense power in taking a specific action regardless of whether you're completely ready to do so.

In essence, perfection becomes the real issue.

I'm convicted that my overthinking tendencies are not necessarily a fear of taking action. Instead, I mostly fear that the action I take could lead to a less than perfect outcome.

Overcome overthinking by growing comfortable with imperfection

The key is being aware of your overthinking tendencies.

Such as...

  • When you overthink aging, health, and your post-career lifestyle.
  • Why you overthink your life now more than you previously did.
  • What happens when you overthink instead of taking action.

Know the difference between thinking-it-over and overthinking

Overthinking undermines essential thinking.

Processing a particular decision isn't the problem. Being stuck in the processing-loop is!

It's okay to push-pause and think through your next step.

When you do, ask yourself two questions:

  • 1-"Am I delaying out of fear?"


  • 2-"Am I delaying because I'm unprepared?"

Lack of preparation can be dealt with. Take a step back, inventory what you're lacking, fill in the gaps, and take the next productive step forward.

Fear on the other hand causes you to be more comfortable staying in preparation-mode.

The remedy for fear-based overthinking is taking the next step based on the information you have at the moment - not waiting for all-the-stars-to-align.

Recover your action-bias

As I've aged, I notice I've become more cautious and hesitant to act. Maybe it's that I'm wiser about the recklessness of my youth.

I often acted more impulsively when I was younger.


Recovering your action-bias isn't being an impulsive, adrenaline-junkie.

A bias for action is being equipped for better decisions that you now have the privilege of filtering through years of earned wisdom and experience.
  • Take action based on what you've learned from previous successes or failures.
  • Take action based on who (besides yourself) will benefit from your wisdom and experience.
  • Take action based on your evaluation of previous positive or negative outcomes.

And speaking of outcomes...

Discover that imperfect outcomes are better than outcomes perpetually waiting to be perfected

Imperfections, like failures, are a great teacher.

The principle of "accelerated failure" applies here.

Accelerated failure is the willingness to push yourself to a less than perfect outcome sooner rather than later. Doing so compels you to actually invite failure because the faster you fail, the sooner you'll discover how to perfect it.

Overthinking does the opposite. It sees an imperfect outcome as a threat to your success.

Aging, for example, is full of imperfections...am I right? Some things you can perfect, other's you can't.

But try, you must!

And grow, you will!

Imperfect action creates outcomes that overthinking merely delays (or prevents you from ever experiencing)

  • Think-things-over but don't over-process.
  • Use your wisdom and experience as motivation for action.
  • Get comfortable with imperfect outcomes and the growth they produce.

Press on...