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Last Updated on December 24, 2018

10 Simple Ways To Stop Overthinking

10 Simple Ways To Stop Overthinking

Analysis paralysis.

It’s when you do a whole lot of thinking … but you never take action.

Let’s look at New Year’s Eve resolutions as an example. Every year, millions of people say they’re going to make big changes in their lives. And yet only 12 percent of folks stick to their resolution.

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Why?

It’s not that they don’t want to change. But when you don’t set a plan in place for getting off your butt and taking the steps necessary to making your goal happen, then failure is often the result.

Here are 10 easy ways to stop overthinking and start doing.

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Set short time limits for decisions.

One of the easiest ways to stop overthinking is to give yourself “decision making deadlines.” It’s okay to take some time to think through tough decisions. But most decisions shouldn’t require a lot of your time. Here’s what I do: set a reminder on my phone when I need to make a decision quickly and am spending too much time thinking about it.

Become a person of action.

The first step is often the hardest. But it’s the most important. If you want to change something in your life, you need to take action now. It sounds simple but most of us just don’t do it. Want to lose weight? What have you done today to make that happen? Want to quit your job and work for yourself? What action have you taken today to achieve that goal? Take baby steps … starting this moment.

Let go.

One of the most important lessons to help you stop overthinking is this: you can’t control everything. There will always be circumstances beyond your control. So embrace your fears, and face them head-on. Don’t be afraid to stumble. Because you’ll learn valuable life lessons with each failure that will only serve to help you grow.

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Write down your action plan and track your progress every day.

This is by far the most effective strategy I’ve used to stop overthinking and become a man of action. It’s very simple too. Pick up a cheap daily planner (or find one online). At the beginning of each week, write down the things you want to accomplish that week. Then, every day record what actions you’re taking to get there. Every day one of the first things I do is list out the things I’m going to do to achieve my goals. And when I check those things off my list, I know I’m closer than I was the day before.

Burn some calories.

Exercise is an amazingly therapeutic way to free your mind of negative thoughts and help you keep a healthier body and a healthier mind. Exercise doesn’t have to be a chore either. Find an activity you love to do, then start doing it every day … even if it’s for five minutes. Once exercise becomes a habit that’s part of your every day life, you’ll notice that you start to become a better decision maker (and you’ll look and feel better too).

Meditate.

Meditation is a scientifically backed method to help you relax and free your mind. Even taking a few minutes every day and focusing on just breathing slowly and deeply can have a profound impact on your life. It’s one of the best ways to help you put things into perspective and stop overthinking.

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Read something inspiring.

Sometimes too much reading can be counter-intuitive. But reading inspiring words (like you’ll find on Lifehack) can help you develop a more positive, motivated mindset. Don’t just read and do nothing though. The key is to take that positive energy and turn it into some type of action that gets you closer to where you want to be.

Do something spontaneous.

Spontaneity is a fantastic way to break you out of a funk and help clear your head. Many of us don’t think we have a lot of opportunities to be spontaneous because of work and family constraints. However, being spontaneous can be something as simple as trying a new food; going to a new class at the gym; or watching a new TV show. The point is, you want to place yourself out of your comfort zone so you can experience different ways of thinking … which can in turn prevent overthinking.

Talk to a mentor.

A lot of times when you’re stuck, an outsider’s opinion can help you overcome your tendency to overthink and overanalyze. So don’t be afraid to ask for help. Talk to someone you respect and tell them about your challenges. You’ll find that most people are happy to help, and appreciate the fact that you respect them enough to ask them for help.

Make a commitment.

Dr. Robert Cialdini says in his book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

    , “Once a stand is taken, there’s a natural tendency to behave in ways that are stubbornly consistent with the stand.” Commitment is a psychological principle that is one of the best ways to help you stop overthinking. It’s this simple: state out loud what you commit to doing, and frame it as something specific you will do. For example, “I commit to losing 10 pounds and getting in the best shape of my life.” Then go and tell everyone you know, which will keep you more motivated and accountable to taking action.

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    Scott Christ

    Scott Christ is a writer, entrepreneur, and founder of Pure Food Company.

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    Last Updated on December 10, 2019

    5 Smart Reasons to Start Journal Writing Today

    5 Smart Reasons to Start Journal Writing Today

    Here’s the truth: your effectiveness at life is not what it could be. You’re missing out.

    Each day passes by and you have nothing to prove that it even happened. Did you achieve something? Go on a date? Have an emotional breakthrough? Who knows?

    But what you do know is that you don’t want to make the same mistakes that you’ve made in the past.

    Our lives are full of hidden gems of knowledge and insight, and the most recent events in our lives contain the most useful gems of all. Do you know why? It’s simple, those hidden lessons are the most up to date, meaning they have the largest impact on what we’re doing right now.

    But the question is, how do you get those lessons? There’s a simple way to do it, and it doesn’t involve time machines:

    Journal writing.

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    Improved mental clarity, the ability to see our lives in the big picture, as well as serving as a piece of evidence cataloguing every success we’ve ever had; we are provided all of the above and more by doing some journal writing.

    Journal writing is a useful and flexible tool to help shed light on achieving your goals.

    Here’s 5 smart reasons why you should do journal writing:

    1. Journals Help You Have a Better Connection with Your Values, Emotions, and Goals

    By journaling about what you believe in, why you believe it, how you feel, and what your goals are, you understand your relationships with these things better. This is because you must sort through the mental clutter and provide details on why you do what you do and feel what you feel.

    Consider this:

    Perhaps you’ve spent the last year or so working at a job you don’t like. It would be easy to just suck it up and keep working with your head down, going on as if it’s supposed to be normal to not like your job. Nobody else is complaining, so why should you, right?

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    But a little journal writing will set things straight for you. You don’t like your job. You feel like it’s robbing you of happiness and satisfaction, and you don’t see yourself better there in the future.

    The other workers? Maybe they don’t know, maybe they don’t care. But you do, you know and care enough to do something about it. And you’re capable of fixing this problem because your journal writing allows you to finally be honest with yourself about it.

    2. Journals Improve Mental Clarity and Help Improve Your Focus

    If there’s one thing journal writing is good for, it’s clearing the mental clutter.

    How does it work? Simply, whenever you have a problem and write about it in a journal, you transfer the problem from your head to the paper. This empties the mind, allowing allocation of precious resources to problem-solving rather than problem-storing.

    Let’s say you’ve been juggling several tasks at work. You’ve got data entry, testing, e-mails, problems with the boss, and so on—enough to overwhelm you—but as you start journal writing, things become clearer and easier to understand: Data entry can actually wait till Thursday; Bill kindly offered earlier to do my testing; For e-mails, I can check them now; the boss is just upset because Becky called in sick, etc.

    You become better able to focus and reason your tasks out, and this is an indispensable and useful skill to have.

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    3. Journals Improve Insight and Understanding

    As a positive consequence of improving your mental clarity, you become more open to insights you may have missed before. As you write your notes out, you’re essentially having a dialogue with yourself. This draws out insights that you would have missed otherwise; it’s almost as if two people are working together to better understand each other. This kind of insight is only available to the person who has taken the time to connect with and understand themselves in the form of writing.

    Once you’ve gotten a few entries written down, new insights can be gleaned from reading over them. What themes do you see in your life? Do you keep switching goals halfway through? Are you constantly dating the same type of people who aren’t good for you? Have you slowly but surely pushed people out of your life for fear of being hurt?

    All of these questions can be answered by simply self-reflecting, but you can only discover the answers if you’ve captured them in writing. These questions are going to be tough to answer without a journal of your actions and experiences.

    4. Journals Track Your Overall Development

    Life happens, and it can happen fast. Sometimes we don’t take the time to stop and look around at what’s happening to us at each moment. We don’t get to see the step-by-step progress that we’re making in our own lives. So what happens? One day it’s the future, and you have no idea how you’ve gotten there.

    Journal writing allows you to see how you’ve changed over time, so you can see where you did things right, and you can see where you took a misstep and fell.

    The great thing about journals is that you’ll know what that misstep was, and you can make sure it doesn’t happen again—all because you made sure to log it, allowing yourself to learn from your mistakes.

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    5. Journals Facilitate Personal Growth

    The best thing about journal writing is that no matter what you end up writing about, it’s hard to not grow from it. You can’t just look at a past entry in which you acted shamefully and say “that was dumb, anyway!” No, we say “I will never make a dumb choice like that again!”

    It’s impossible not to grow when it comes to journal writing. That’s what makes journal writing such a powerful tool, whether it’s about achieving goals, becoming a better person, or just general personal-development. No matter what you use it for, you’ll eventually see yourself growing as a person.

    Kickstart Journaling

    How can journaling best be of use to you? To vent your emotions? To help achieve your goals? To help clear your mind? What do you think makes journaling such a useful life skill?

    Know the answer? Then it’s about time you reap the benefits of journal writing and start putting pen to paper.

    Here’s what you can do to start journaling:

    Featured photo credit: Jealous Weekends via unsplash.com

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