Don’t overthink it

It's easy to think and think and never act on a great idea. Don't overthink it!
Fran’s twirling an idea in her head…

It’s easy to do – we’ve all done it. Twirl an idea around in your head and not act on it. I’ve done it more times than I care to admit. You think about it, approach an idea from all different angles and sort out the “What if’s …?” and not do anything. It’s called “analysis paralysis” – when you think about something for so long that nothing gets done. Here’s some advice: Don’t overthink it.

So you think you have a great idea. It doesn’t matter what context it’s in. You have this idea and start thinking about all the eventualities and then you decide it’s not so great after all.

But what if it is and you just over thought yourself right out of acting on your idea? You’ve spent so much time thinking about it that it’s impossible for you to act on it. And then you feel guilty about spending time on nothing.

You’re never not going to have ideas

So – here’s the plan. You’re never not going to have ideas. We’re people. We think. That’s a good thing. But a while ago you set goals for yourself: Set goals – big and little. So you don’t overthink this idea – ask yourself first if this idea fits into your overall plan. Will it help you achieve a goal you set for yourself? If not, then move on. Unless the idea is so attractive to you that you can’t put it aside.

Don’t overthink it – don’t think

If your new idea is still appealing, let your mind go blank for a little while. Just forget about it for a few minutes. Then come back to it and think about how to go about this idea. If a really great plan comes to mind – revise your goals and go for it!

Give it a time limit

If you keep cogitating about this new idea and whether or not you should go for it, give yourself a strict time limit: “I’ll decide whether or not to go for this by noon on Thursday.” You’ve given yourself a deadline. Act on it.

Go for the gut feeling

And when all else fails – write down your options on small pieces of paper. Fold them up and shuffle them around. Pick one. How do you feel about it? If your gut clenches, it’s the wrong decision.

Now, don’t overthink it. Go do it. Plan for it. Embrace it – whatever that “it” is.

Set goals – big and little

Are you retired? Still working? Working on not working? Regardless – it’s important to set goals for yourself. The way we grow is to set goals and challenge ourselves, in whatever area we choose. And, don’t limit yourself to one area. If you’re still working, great! Set goals – big and little – for yourself professionally, but also personally. 

I work for myself in a number of enterprises. I set goals for the business and for myself. One goal is to create a course relating to self-discipline that my readers (you!) will find useful in your fitness journey. My sister tells me that I have more discipline than anyone else she knows, so hopefully that expertise will help others. I’m writing my modules and hope to have a course by the end of the summer.

Another of my personal goals is to complete 10 regular pushups (from my toes). Pushups from my knees are no problem. And incline pushups are easy as well. I’m at about 4 or 5 regular ones now, so I’ll keep working at it.

To grow means that there’s work involved. Many people think the word “work” has a negative connotation. Meaning that work is bad. I don’t see it that way. Work is serious, yes, because my goals are serious to me. It’s hard. And work is challenging. But it can be fun. And the results: downright delightful.

I have fun when I work. I try to have fun all the time. Just because I’m trying to accomplish something doesn’t mean that I can’t have fun with it. Fun makes the work easier.

Big goals

When you have a BIG GOAL, it can seem intimidating and not at all fun. The secret to achieving that BIG GOAL is to chop it into smaller, more manageable goals and incorporate some fun into it if possible. And big goals can seem crushingly hard, unless you’re committed to its success. I wrote about that just a couple of weeks ago.

For example, if, as my sister and I did, you had to move all of your grandmother’s things into your house and then, after living with the clutter for a couple of years, decide to declutter – that’s an impossible goal to manage all at once. So we thought about the best way to tackle the job and came up with the strategy of: one room at a time, in fifteen to twenty minute chunks.

We started with a corner of one room, set up our three stations: throw away (for things that we could not see anyone having a use for, ever), donate (for things that we couldn’t see ourselves using) and keep (for things we couldn’t bear to give up). We worked for fifteen minutes every day, and in a matter of months the job was complete.

A side note: don’t ever feel badly about keeping something when you’re trying to declutter. You’re entitled to your feelings. Think about the item. Will you be sorry if you never see it again? You can always get rid of something but you can’t get it back.

And the goal of losing weight. If you have more than 3 pounds to lose, that’s a BIG GOAL. It’s hard and needs to be addressed as a true achievement. Intermediate goals should be set and addressed.

Little goals

I practice my balance every day by standing on one foot for a minute while I brush my teeth. That’s a total of two minutes, which is how long we’re supposed to brush our teeth. My little goal is to not put a toe down before the time is up. My reward if I’m successful? Well, in this case, just the knowledge that I’m growing stronger and my balance is improving. I’ve been doing this long enough that the exercise is a habit.

But your little goals can range from substituting a piece of fruit for the candy you usually eat in the afternoon, to focusing on work for an extra five minutes. And then reward yourself with a big stretch or an extra round of Spider Solitaire.

My goal of 10 regular pushups is a medium-sized goal. It’s big enough that it needs to get chopped up and intermediate goals set, but not big enough that it will take months. And when I reach that goal? I’ll think of another.

Use these lazy days of summer to your advantage

The days may be warm, but you've got things to do

Yup – me too. Dog days of summer perhaps? Especially theses days, we see on the calendar an unending stretch of similar days. Not even the weather changes much. The last few weeks have been hot and humid. Not much precipitation. One after another.

Feel that sense of urgency?

You know you should be doing things. You just know that you’ll be sorry in three months that you let this stretch of days with no appointments, no urgency, no places to be end with nothing to show for it. So use these lazy days of summer to your advantage!

Set a goal!

How to snap out of it? Well, think of what you would like to see accomplished at the end of those three months. That’s a quarter of a year. Would you like to perfect a new dish? In 13 weeks you can prepare that dish at least 6 times without getting bored yawns from the family.

Want to lose weight?

Or would you like to lose 5 pounds? Completely doable. Figure out your eating plan for the next few weeks and exercise schedule. You’ve got it covered.

Would you like to learn how to crochet? You can order a few different size crochet hooks, some yarn and a beginner’s pattern or two, have them arrive and try it out after watching a few YouTube instructional videos a few times during this quarter year.

Want to be a writer? I did too. Now I have a published book.

Or how about writing a story? Completely possible. Write your ideas, organize the plot and start writing. It won’t take long if you devote just a half hour or so a day. For me, writing a non-fiction book about my training journey with my reactive dog Tango was both cathartic and rewarding. And I got it done in about 4 months. Tango: Transforming My Hellhound.

The point: anything is possible

The point is that anything is possible if you set your mind to it. The first step is to set a goal.

Next is to break that goal down into smaller chunks. And smaller. And smaller – until you’ve got about an hour a day of “work.” But it won’t seem like work because it’s something you really want to do, and an hour out of 24 is nothing. Writing your goals down, and then scheduling your tasks on a planner or calendar really help keep you honest.

Be better

Be a little better

Keep trying - full plank with one arm and one leg.Just a little – be better today than you were yesterday. Try for a little more.

It’s easy to plod along, day after day, doing the same things, eating the same foods, seeing the same people, that we forget that we have a limited time.

Sorry – don’t mean to be morbid here, but isn’t that what life is all about?

If not, then why bother?

Trying to be better today than you were yesterday? Otherwise, why bother doing anything at all.

Whatever your goals are, don’t you want to be a little closer to reaching them today? Just be a little better.

Set big goals

If you have big goals, great! Set big ones – you don’t have to meet it all in one day.

Break up the big goals into more manageable chunks, and that way you can set a mini-goal to be better at every day! If you don’t, it’s all too easy to be overwhelmed by that great big goal staring at you. Lose 50 pounds? Impossible in a day or even a week, or a month! But two pounds this week? Absolutely! Resolve to be chocolate-free for two days. Even for me, that’s probably doable. And then maybe cut out a piece of bread a day. Or maybe every other day.

Mini-goals on your way to the big ones

The point is, your mini-goals should lead you on your way to achieving that big goal, but still be doable today. And when you reach that mini-goal, celebrate and make a new mini-goal. And that’s how you lose 50 pounds. Or launch a business. Or whatever big goal you have in mind.

Today – be better

For today, think of that goal, and be better.

Or think of a few goals to choose among. Then think of what would make you happiest and put the rest on a back burner. You’ll get to them.

And in the meantime, be better today at something than you were yesterday!