Don’t Overthink

It seemed like a silly question.

What’s your secret to being happy in your 40s? a reporter asks actress Jennifer Aniston. Does she really have to answer this kind of crap? I think to myself. Ms. Aniston answers.

Don’t overthink it.

Great life answer. Great business answer, too. We know the perils of collective overthinking. We have catch phrases to describe it. Group Think. Analysis Paralysis. Mental Constipation.

We rely on process tools to accelerate thought. Risk Analysis Tables. Decision Matrices. Very helpful. They have the power to focus group thinking. And they often foster more paralysis.

When a bunch of the big clients I work with brought in McKinsey and Company for an organizational diagnosis, the answer, down-the-line, was the same:

Inability to make decisions.

Uhuh. Overthinking. Let’s talk about you and me for a moment. No group involved.

When does thinking become overthinking?

A thought begins to repeat itself again and again. Added information does not lead to clarity. Thought bogs down in future eventualities. Repeated reflection leads to more obsessive thinking. Thinking becomes the toxic lover I cannot let go.

Trust your gut instinct. It’s the cliché-advice for by-passing thought. Love the notion. Reality is often more complex. What was I thinking? We have all had this hindsight reaction to an action we took. Chances are, we weren’t thinking. Gut instinct turned out to be a bunch of unexamined desires.

Here’s the ENERGY take on overthinking.

Thought is a vital form of energy. Personal effectiveness, however, is always enhanced when we connect with a wide spectrum of energy. Mental, emotional, physical, spiritual.

When I overthink, I am stuck in one energy stream. A crucial stream, but a limited one. He is stuck in his head. Another phrase we know well.

Want to get unstuck? Switch your attention to other energy streams. Exercise. Notice what you are feeling. Meditate. Connect with the God of your choice. When an entire work team you’re with is stuck, initiate a collective energy shift. Go for a walk together. Play a game of volley-ball. Do a bunch a jumping jacks. Sing a song together.

It’s not the thought that is stuck, it’s your energy. The moment you connect with other energy streams, you begin to remove the shackles of obsessive overthinking.

Energy begins to flow. Thought starts to get clear.

Yes, it is that simple.