Do you experience chronic indecision when it comes to your career? According to a study by the Journal of Abnormal Psychology, overthinking or ruminating can take a serious toll on your well-being. Overthinking wastes time and drains precious energy. Experts agree that thinking too much can negatively impact job performance, cause anxiety, or even lead to depression. Psychologist Barry Schwartz coined the phrase “Paradox of Choice” to describe his findings that, while freedom of choice allows us to achieve objectively better results, it also leads to greater indecision, paralysis, and dissatisfaction. With the coronavirus pandemic, you may find yourself out of a job or reconsidering your current career path. But how can you tell if you are overthinking a career decision?
Here are five signs to watch for so you can stop deliberating and start acting:
You ignore your intuition
Overthinkers have trouble trusting themselves. You may be afraid to make the wrong decision, so you take too long to make a choice. When you find yourself overthinking a career choice, you tend to rely more on rational decision making than your instincts. There is value in listening to that little voice inside of you. Learn to trust your intuition and go with your gut. If it doesn’t work out, at least you acted and learned from the experience.
You have difficulty problem solving
Overthinking leads to analysis paralysis. Analysis paralysis describes an individual or group process when overanalyzing or overthinking a situation can cause forward motion or decision-making to become “paralyzed,” meaning that no solution or course of action is decided upon. You waste time thinking about the problem rather than available solutions.
You’re afraid of making the wrong choice
Instead of empowering us to make better choices, our unlimited access to information often leads to greater fear of making the wrong decision. In fact, a study from UC Santa Barbara found that overthinking leads to poor decision-making and judgments. This situation leads to you spinning your wheels and often overthinking a career decision.
You’ve researched your options to death
Research is all well and good until you have compiled so much information that you feel petrified. This concept also refers to the person who needs to acquire degree, after certification, after accreditation to give themselves permission to take a giant leap. At some point, you must take action. So, if you’ve been riding on your research merry-go-round for months or even years, it’s time to stop. Being fearless doesn’t mean eliminating fear. The key is to take small steps to keep fear from paralyzing you.
You obsess about things beyond your control
Overthinkers want to plan for the future, yet there are many aspects of our lives we can’t control. For example, we can’t control the economy or what other people think or feel. You may find yourself overthinking a career decision because you worry that your friends and family will find your choice irresponsible or reckless. Ultimately these feelings will cause you to continue to mull over your options instead of simply taking action.
Overthinking prevents you from making progress by keeping you trapped in circular thoughts. Get out of your own way! It is almost impossible to make confident choices when you are coming from a place of fear. Increase your self-awareness and open yourself up to the input of others. That way, when you find yourself overthinking, you can choose to move forward rather than remain in an endless cycle of indecision. As author Ralph Marston points out, “There are plenty of difficult obstacles in your path. Don’t allow yourself to become one of them.”