Updated: Mar 28, 2022
If you’re like a lot of people, this is how you drive yourself crazy. Let’s say you belong to a gym. There are bad things about being there. It’s expensive and has limited facilities. But on the good side, it’s close by and you know a lot of people there. So you spend endless time thinking and rethinking whether to quit or not.
And if you do that about the gym, you do it for tons of other things in your life. You’re gonna get a dog, you’re not gonna get a dog. You're gonna finally quit your job, nah, you’re not gonna quit your job. You’re gonna get serious about losing weight, but...no you’ve been down that road so why not just let the whole thing go?
In other words, you over-think everything. Every decision in your life stays wide open, undecided, bubbling away on a mental stove with a hundred and one front burners.
It’s stressful, confusing, and exhausting to live that way. But you’re riding the tiger and you don’t know how to get off.
Let me help.
What you’re doing now—and I understand it because it’s too often what I’ve done—is stew over everything until the perfect right decision comes along. Except that, of course, it never does come along. Only more things to think about.
So you have to ask yourself, Do I want to stop riding this tiger? Do I want to lead an easier, less stressful life?
If so, this is what you do.
To prepare, get ready for the fact that you’re going to make a decision that’s a) good enough b) for now. Not perfect forever. Just good enough for now.
Let’s use the gym thing for an illustration of what to do. So, yeah, there are all those issues rolling around in your head, but for now, what’s most important? For example, if you know you need to work out for your health and sense of well-being, then convenience is really important. People don’t go to gyms that are too far away.
So now you have what I call a decision rule: A basis for making that decision. “Getting to the gym is the most important thing to me, because that’s what’s most important when it comes to getting fit.”
You’re done! That’s because if the gym were really so expensive or so limited in facilities, you would have put that first.
Now when you start to re-hash the re-hashing of this issue, you have a basis for telling yourself to shut the f—k up. “I’ve figured this out, made my decision, and I’m going to stick with it until something new comes up.”
Here’s how to do it:
Think about what’s important to you about a decision.
Force yourself to say what’s most important.
Given what’s most important, what decision clearly follows from that?
That’s your decision rule. You’re all set.
Stick with it until something significant changes.
If you find yourself over-thinking the decision, just tell yourself you’ve already made your decision and you’re not going to fall back into stress and confusion.
I’ll be honest. The hardest part of this is weaning yourself from over-thinking. Here’s how you do that. Just keep reminding yourself that you had to stop over-thinking because it was ruining your life!
Remind yourself of that, use the decision rule, and you’ll soon be able to leave the stress of over-thinking behind. You’ll have clarity, focus, freedom, and peace of mind.
Tell me how this works for you, and where you get stuck. We can have a post later about trouble-shooting this. But most people find it pretty straightforward.