Let me guess, you have big ambitions and big goals, but you fail to achieve your goals and dreams because you don’t do anything about them. You fail to take action, and the reason is that you are stuck in the overthinking cycle. You think too much but are not making any progress.
Does this sound familiar?
Thinking is good, but overthinking can cause a lot of problems.
For instance, when you overthink, you feel stress, your judgments get blurry, and you spend too much time thinking, especially negative thoughts, but you are not taking action or doing anything.
In other words, overthinking causes you stuck where you are.
You fail to make progress and unable to take any solid actions because you overthink things.
If overthinking is consuming your goals, dreams, and life, don’t worry, below are the 7 effective methods on how to stop overthinking and start doing…
1. Be Conscious with Your Thoughts
You can’t fix what you don’t know is broken. Hence, the first step in overcoming overthinking is to realize that you are stuck because you overthink things.
This is the most important step because if you are not aware that you are overthinking, you will never get to find the solutions to get rid of it.
You have to start paying attention to the way you think and be more conscious of what’s going into your head.
What do you think about most of the time? Do you think about negative things that can happen that paralyze your progress?
Or do you often daydream but are not taking action?
So, step back and look at the big picture of the situation and how you are responding to it.
Every time you find yourself stuck, feeling stressed, anxious, worried, lack motivation, or when you doubt yourself, take a step back and examine what thoughts you are thinking.
2. Focus on What’s on Your Hands Now – the Present
Once you realize you are overthinking, you can then make a conscious effort to switch your focus. You want to focus on what’s on your hands now.
In short, you want to focus on the present.
Most people overthink because they either linger in the past or worry too much about the future.
Don’t let your past control your current life because you can’t change your past. And don’t worry about your future because it is yet to happen.
What you need to do then is to learn from your past and get inspired by a brighter future, and then work on the present.
Your future will take care of itself if you work on your present moment.
Do understand that your future is created now, not 20 years from now.
Thus, focus on the present.
You don’t have to worry about if you will fail in your online business venture, just do it.
You don’t have to think about if your guest article will be accepted by a reputable publisher, just write and submit.
You don’t have to worry too much about having not enough money to pay the bills, just work on the now so that you will get enough when the future arrives.
We can’t change the past and we don’t have a crystal ball to predict the future, but we do have control over what we can do at this present moment.
Hence, focus on the present and do what’s most important right now.
3. Think About What Can Go Right
This is a big one. Most people overthink and they think about what can go wrong more than what can go right most of the time.
This results in unnecessary negative thinking that will make you unproductive.
Rather than thinking about what can go wrong, choose to think about what can go right.
Many people are paralyzed and fail to make any progress toward their goals and dreams because they overthink the negative things.
When you overthink negative thoughts, you will fall into the ‘fear’ trap.
- You don’t take action because you fear that you might fail.
- You don’t invest because you are afraid you will lose money.
- You don’t start the business because you think you are going to fail.
That’s what paralyzes most people from taking action – fear. They cramp their minds with negative thoughts. As a result, they are consumed by fear and inactivity.
Don’t let this happens to you.
Think about what can go right, not what can go wrong.
- Don’t think about what if you fail, think about what if you succeed.
- Don’t think about what if you can’t make it, think about what if you did it.
Don’t visualize failures, instead, see yourself achieving the success you want, reaching your goals, and living the great life that you have always wanted.
Focus on the positive or what can go right is a great way to get rid of overthinking.
4. Use Hal Elrod’s 5-Minute Rule
Hal Elrod is the best-selling author of several books, including The Miracle Morning.
In one of his podcasts, he shared a 5-Minute Rule that changed his life forever. This was what he said:
“I live my life by the five-minute rule. When things go wrong it’s OK to be negative – but not for more than five minutes.”Hal Elrod
When Hal was age 20, he was hit by a drunk driver and was clinically dead for 6 minutes. He broke most of his bones in his body and the doctor told him that he could never walk again.
But Hal went on to prove the doctor wrong by living a successful and healthy life. And he credited his dramatic recovery to the 5-Minute Rule.
After the accident, like everybody, Hal was depressed and grieved over his situation. But he only allowed himself to feel negative for only 5 minutes.
In those 5 minutes, he would get upset, angry at the drunk driver for damaging his health and life, and felt totally negative. But for just 5 minutes.
After the 5 minutes were up, he would spend his mental energies focusing on getting and living a better life.
So, here’s the rule: You can overthink, feel upset, negative, complain, moan, yell, or whatever, but for NO LONGER than 5 minutes.
Once the 5 minutes are over, accept your situation, and focus on the present. Stop overthinking and get back to work after the 5 minutes are up.
5. Practice Deliberate Distractions
We need time to think. The more you spend time in solitude, thinking, and planning, the more productive you become.
It is not about working and hustling 24 hours. Because you want to work on things that matter most to you, not just anything.
And thinking and planning allow you to identify what’s most important and get them done.
This is why you need to spend time thinking, but not overthinking.
And the best way to do so is to deliberately schedule a time for thinking.
For instance, you can schedule two 15-minute sessions to do nothing and just let your mind wanders. Just like meditation, you can schedule a time to be in solitude and dive into a deep thinking state.
Rather than overthinking and end up doing nothing the whole day, you purposely schedule time for thinking.
By doing so, you are allowing yourself both the time to think and to work.
You can slot in 20 minutes of thinking time for reflection in your mid-day. And during that 20 minutes, you can overthink, worry, focus on the positive or the negative, or whatever thoughts you want.
But once the time is up, you move on to something else.
The moment you start overthinking, tell yourself that you will have to wait until your ‘thinking time’ to allow your mind to wander again.
You can also schedule activities to distract yourself from overthinking.
For example, you can practice yoga, journaling, go for a run, exercise, dance, learn to play an instrument, paint an art piece, etc., to distract yourself from overthinking.
6. Aim for Progress, Not Perfection
Another way to stop overthinking is to aim for progress, not perfection. A lot of people are stuck with overthinking because they are a perfectionist.
They worry if the work they have done isn’t perfect. They worry if others will comment and complain about their work.
Never let this happen to you. The key is to aim for progress, not perfection.
Being ambitious is great, but if you aim for perfection, it will cause you to feel overwhelmed and paralyzed. It is impractical to aim for perfection.
Remember, you are not building a grand piano, and it doesn’t need to be perfect.
When I write an article like this one, I don’t focus on perfection. I write from my mind and just let the words flow.
Some of my articles are good, but most are just so-so. But it doesn’t matter. As long as I continue to make progress and keep writing, my skill gets better.
And the more articles and content I produce, the more good ones I will have on my blog. And that’s how I build this blog from scratch.
It is not about being perfect, it is about making progress.
Hence, don’t overthink that you need to be perfect or be so good to be successful. You just need to focus on getting things done. Make progress and the results will come.
7. Put a Time Limit for Work and Fun
You want to give yourself a time limit for everything you do and set a boundary.
You don’t want to spend 20 hours working a day or spend 15 hours sleeping. Everything has its boundary and limit.
There are times you should work longer hours, but for most days, you shouldn’t. This is why you want to schedule other activities or hobbies into your days.
Don’t just work all day, there are times for work and there are also times to relax and recharge. The same goes for overthinking. You can schedule time to think and time to work.
Telling yourself to stop overthinking is not a good strategy. Just like if I tell you not to think about a pink elephant, you will do exactly that.
That’s how our mind works. If you tell yourself to stop overthinking, guess what, you will overthink.
And that’s why you want to set a boundary and use activities to replace overthinking.
Change the channel in your brain by changing your activity and what you do. You can exercise, go for a walk, talk to someone, watch a movie, listen to a song, etc.
If you are someone who always overthinks, use the 7 ways above to stop the habit. And yes, overthinking is a habit.
Therefore, you want to work on mastering your mind and the way you think. Pay attention to your thinking pattern and become aware of your bad mental habits.
Overthinking is a common problem most people face in life, but if you know how to deal with it, you can turn your thinking pattern into a productive one and not something that stops you.