Analysis Paralysis-Learn How To Relax And Ease Anxiety

frustrated person with head on desk holding a help sign.

Stopping the vicious cycle of Analysis Paralysis is the best way to learn how to make informed and quicker decisions.

Analysis paralysis, often referred to as overthinking, is a common cognitive phenomenon that afflicts many of us at some point in our lives, including me. This is when we are unable to make a decision, in the present moment, or take action due to too much information, too many options, or fear of making the wrong choice. 

Chronic Overthinker

Some of us suffer the consequences of being a chronic overthinker. This is not an easy habit to break, if you even want to. I feel like I am a walking anomaly because sometimes I can make lightning fast decisions and sometimes I give up trying to decide, especially when frustrated by too many options.

Knowing I can’t be the only one experiencing the negative effects of analysis paralysis, I decided I would research this topic.

Decision Making

First, I just love the seemingly long periods of time where it feels I don’t have to make any major decisions. My regular decision making practice is to procrastinate as long as possible and then moan I don’t want to be the adult today. When I am finished whining I get to work researching and eventually deciding. 

I have bought vehicles in less time than it takes me to decide what dog food to feed my pups. For me it seems to be when the stakes are highest I have the most difficulty. Does this mean I consider dog food to be more important than vehicle safety? No, not at all. In this example I knew nothing about dog food and I trusted my mechanic of 35 years, that pointed me to the car to buy. 

This annoyance of decision making can, and frequently does, hinder personal and professional growth. All these anxious thoughts raise our stress levels and cause destructive thought patterns. Understanding the roots to overthinking and learning how to overcome it can be transformative.

Why Do Some People Suffer from Analysis Paralysis?

Fear of Failure

One of the primary causes of analysis paralysis is the fear of making a wrong decision. People may worry that their choices will lead to undesirable outcomes, which can be paralyzing. Reminders of past mistakes and a lack of problem solving skills all add to the problem.

Fear of Finances

Sometimes the higher cost of an item paralyzes us with fear. Cars can be expensive today and I have no trouble deciding what car to buy. This may be because I know what I want and can afford, and I know I can always sell the car if I made a wrong choice.

Trying to decide if I wind down my little small business of 30 years that has supported me well is an altogether different kind of decision for me to make and has the potential to paralyze me. Knowing my own head though and that a decision like this could cause huge anxiety, I have formed some good habits over the years to help me.

I am no longer paralyzed by fear. Full disclosure, I do a fair amount of deep breathing exercises! One of the tools I use is knowing that I generally entertain irrational fears and when I look at the history of my decision making none of the consequences were life threatening. Not even close and many really good decisions.

Sure there have been times that maybe deciding to go in the other direction would have been better. Live and learn.


Perfectionists often fall victim to analysis paralysis because they set impossibly high standards for themselves. They constantly seek the “perfect” solution, leading to prolonged decision-making.

I am a recovering perfectionist. Years ago I decided my work needs to allow me to make mistakes and to give up on the false pretense that there is no such thing as perfect. Today I do my best and let go of the rest!

Information Overload

In today’s information age, it is great to have so much information at our finger tips! We have have access to an overwhelming amount of data and we have to discern fact form fiction. Trying to process all this information has obvious negative aspects.

All this info can lead to confusion and indecision. When searching for a particular item I may see so many different options it just makes my head spin and I shut the search down. The flip side of this is when I ask a friend for a recommendation I often go with it to avoid having to think about it. This has not always worked out so well.

Lack of Self-Confidence

Individuals with low self-esteem may doubt their ability to make sound decisions. This self-doubt can prevent them from taking action. 

We all know the friend that won’t make a decision until checking with a dozen people. At times I find it far less confusing to just make the decision without the input of others. We are after all, I believe, just looking for confirmation of what we want.

Decision Fatigue

The constant need to make decisions, especially in a professional context, can exhaust decision-makers, making them more prone to analysis paralysis. I can’t even imagine having a high stress job like that. My stress hormones levels would be off the chart!

Sometimes during my thought process I can feel my blood pressure rising and the thing I have to do is to shut it down and go for a brisk walk or any other physical exercise. Usually either on my walk, or shortly thereafter, I have come up with the right solution for me and made my decision.

How to Correct Analysis Paralysis

Set Clear Goals

Begin by defining your goals and what you want to achieve. Having a clear sense of purpose will help you filter through options more effectively. Set a timer, give yourself a worry period and then move beyond the fear. Making plans including practical steps with a timeline will be an aid to better and hopefully faster decision making.

Prioritize Information

Learn to distinguish between essential and non-essential information. Focus on gathering only the data that directly relates to your decision. In other words don’t fall down the rabbit hole which is very challenging to do today.

Establish a Decision-Making Process

Create a structured decision-making process that includes a timeline. Timelines are essential or you will continue to flounder. Set deadlines for gathering information and making a choice, to prevent procrastination. Know that you have an anxious brain and most of the bad things you think may happen, likely won’t happen.  

Embrace Imperfection

Understand that perfection is often unattainable. Instead, strive for a good or satisfactory outcome. My best solution is to accept that mistakes are part of the learning process. I am not suggesting to stop at ‘this is good enough’.

As a life long artist, I know when my project is done. This is far different from ‘it is good enough’. Ask any artist and they will tell you most often it is knowing when to stop that is the challenge. 

Break Tasks into Smaller Steps

Complex decisions can be overwhelming. Break them down into smaller manageable steps to make the process less nerve wracking. I always have to do this with important stuff especially if there are many moving parts. 

Limit Options

Don’t overwhelm yourself with too many choices. Narrow down your options to a manageable number, considering only the most relevant ones. This is so important.

I get totally overwhelmed with too many choices. This is why I don’t like shopping in big department stores. I walk into these stores and instantly feel a visual overload. I am a fan too of making a pros & cons list using an old fashioned piece of paper and pencil.

Seek Input from Others

Consult with trusted friends, family, or colleagues. They can offer different perspectives and valuable insights to help you make a decision. Keep in mind though, this can backfire and add to your confusion. The responsibility, the decision making and accepting the outcome is still on you.

If you make an incorrect decision you don’t get to blame anyone but yourself. On second thought don’t waste time blaming yourself because presumably you armed yourself with as much information as possible and based your decision on this. Live and learn.

Take Action

Once you’ve gathered enough information and considered your options, make a decision and take action. A healthy way to look at this is knowing that doing something, even if it’s not perfect, is better than doing nothing.

Benefits of Overcoming Analysis Paralysis

Increased Productivity

Overcoming analysis paralysis allows you to make decisions more efficiently, leading to increased productivity in both personal and professional settings.

Reduced Stress

When you have made a tough decision doesn’t it feel so good!  I feel positively gleeful because decision-making can be mentally draining. Overcoming analysis paralysis can lead to reduced stress as you become more confident in your ability to make good choices.

Improved Self-Confidence

Successfully making decisions and taking action can boost your self-esteem, self-confidence and mental wellbeing. Better self confidence can lead to faster future decision making.

Enhanced Problem-Solving Skills

Overcoming analysis paralysis requires developing problem-solving skills, which can benefit you in various aspects of life.

Better Time Management

Efficient decision-making means less time wasted on overthinking, enabling you to allocate your time more effectively to other tasks and activities.

Enhanced Creativity

Analysis paralysis often stifles creativity, as individuals get bogged down in overthinking. By learning to trust your instincts and make decisions more swiftly, you’ll find that your creativity can flourish. You’ll be more open to innovative solutions and willing to take risks.

Greater Resilience

I tend to not look at life as mistakes or wins because some of my best designs that I thought were mistakes turned out to be my award winning pieces. 

Clearly some decisions we make don’t work out the way we hoped. This allows us to become better at adapting to unexpected outcomes and learning from the choices we make. This adaptability can be a valuable asset in both your personal and professional life.

Improved Relationships

Indecision can strain relationships, as it can lead to frustration and impatience in others. Overcoming analysis paralysis can help you communicate more effectively and make commitments with confidence, strengthening your connections with others.

Financial Gains  

In the realm of financial decisions, overcoming analysis paralysis can have a significant impact. In the particular situation of delaying investments, for instance, can result in missed opportunities for financial growth. Learning to make timely and well-informed financial decisions can lead to better wealth management and financial stability.

Personal Fulfillment

Ultimately, the greatest benefit of conquering analysis paralysis is personal fulfillment. When you take action and make choices aligned with your goals and values, you experience a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. This can lead to a more fulfilling and purpose-driven life.

By setting clear goals, prioritizing information, and taking calculated risks, you can break free from the cycle of overthinking. 

My quick summary of the benefits of overcoming analysis paralysis include increased productivity, reduced stress, improved self-confidence, enhanced problem-solving skills, and better time management. When faced with specific situations don’t let indecision hold you back—take the first step towards more confident and effective decision-making today. 

So, take that first step today and liberate yourself from the grip of analysis paralysis. Your future self will thank you for it. And feel free to borrow my trick of taking slow deep breaths in and out!

Marj Bates is a life long ridiculously organized declutter-er and artist. Less is more are words Marj lives by in everything she does except collecting dogs. “Dogs are like potato chips! Can’t have just one.” says Marj. Marj wonders if growing up with a fanatically clean Jewish mom means her decluttering and organizational skills are in her blood.

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