I overthink. And for me, overthinking and perfectionism go hand-in-hand. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve backed out of trying something new because I over thought it and needed it to be perfect.
This isn’t exactly how I pictured it. Everyone will think I’m no good at this. I need to know more first. I don’t know what I’m doing. It needs to be perfect.
Can you relate to those thoughts? I now work to talk myself out of overthinking. If I hadn’t, I never would have written my first eBook, started my first business, written my first blog post, gone on my first backpacking trip, or ran my first marathon. The truth is, there are things you just won’t get right until you try it. Starting is often the hardest part, then you have to stick with it to get better.
Are You an Overthinker?
I am not cured of this! I still overthink. I’m still a recovering perfectionist. If you’re an overthinker you might go over conversations in your head deciphering meanings and takeaways. You might take a long time to make trivial decisions, like what to wear or eat, based on a ton of scenarios in your head. You put things off or delay things if you’re worried they aren’t going to be perfect.
Plenty of people do these things and wouldn’t consider themselves to be overthinkers, but others may do this so often that they’ve noticed hardships as a result. I’m one of the latter! And if you tend to overthink, that’s okay! It’s helpful to be aware of it so you can push past those feelings in order to create momentum and try new things.
Learn as You Go
One of the things that really pushes me out of my overthinking comfort zone is the knowledge that I will only learn how to be good at something by doing it. No matter how much I read or research, there are just some things you need to learn as you do them. My first blog posts are sort of cringy to look at now, but I wouldn’t be able to write the ones I do now without the first ones! When I decided I wanted to hike with my kids, I was so worried I’d bring the wrong gear or get us lost… But I knew I’d never do it if I didn’t just try it one day. And that’s what I did!
Commit to learning as you go. Your first business, product, podcast, blog post, marathon, garden, or backpacking trip won’t be perfect. But your second will be better. And your third. And so on! You can read 1000 books about running marathons before running your first one. But you’ll learn more from lacing up your shoes and running than you will from any of the reading. Don’t overthink it, just do it.
Starting and Sticking With It
Some people say starting things isn’t the hard part for them, it’s sticking to them. And that’s valid! But overcoming overthinking is the same regardless! Action creates momentum, and the more you do it, the better you’ll get at it. Here are three tips for sticking with something and not overthinking it:
- Remember the Good, Better, Best rule. I have a whole blog post about this, but essentially it’s about allowing yourself to be “better” or “good” if you can’t be “best.” Overthinking or perfectionism will tell you if you can’t do the thing at your best, you shouldn’t do it. Untrue! Allow yourself to be better, or good. That’s better than not doing it at all.
- Make realistic goals. Don’t start something new and set unrealistic goals. If you do that, you’ll overthink it and give up instead of lowering your expectations. At least that’s my pattern! Instead, set realistic goals. And once you hit those consistently, raise them.
- One thing at a time. Keep your focus small at first. The overthinking mindset will tell you you need to do everything all at once! False. Take it one thing at a time. Overthinkers so often feel paralyzed when they are overwhelmed. And sometimes that is due to overthinking ALL of the tasks that go into a new thing. Don’t let your mind go there. Just do one thing at a time.
The key to sticking with something is creating wins for yourself along the way, not more losses. By being flexible with your “good, better, best” mentality, making realistic goals, and focusing on one thing at a time, you’re setting yourself up for success!
More often than not, you just have to allow yourself to fail. You have to be willing to be new at something and to make mistakes. If you tend to overthink, you may feel comfort and in control by knowing everything before starting something. But that’s just not a reality for so many new things!
It’s okay to be an overthinker! You just have to remember the times that overthinking isn’t serving you and to have the tools to get yourself out of that headspace. You have to know that learning as you go is how you’ll get good at nearly everything. And remember that starting something and sticking with it is all about setting yourself up for success.
Are you an overthinker? What tools do you use to push past those feelings when they aren’t serving you?
Thanks for reading!