Warren Van Dam – Preventing Paralysis By Analysis

A really cool phrase, which I have learned in the last 12 months is ‘paralysis by analysis’ which is a phrase to use in situations whereby you are unable to make a decision or take action because you are too heavily invested in reading all of the information about said action or decision. I first heard this on the Warren Van Dam podcast, and when he mentioned it and explained what it meant, I very quickly realized that it applied to me in a business decision, which I am trying to make.

It is one thing to arm yourself with the information that you need in order to make a decision or a particular course of action, but it is quite another to allow that to become an obstacle in just getting it done. If you have been guilty of this, here are some steps to avoid it in the future.

What Are Your Fears?

There is only one reason why we take things to such a specific and detailed level before taking action and that is because we are trying to mitigate some kind of risk of fear that we had in taking action. A perfect example here, I had the chance to teach some kids how to speak English, the opportunity was there for a couple of months, to be honest, and I invested a lot of time in finding out how to teach. I haven’t trained in this so I would look at tips, lesson plans etc. etc. Eventually, I realized that I had to just give it a go, and it was a fear of failure that held me back in taking the decision. At the root of your analysis is fear, find out what it is and go after it.

Seeking Support

If you are worried that you are over-analyzing a situation then this is perfectly natural, and you should seek some help and support at this stage. Ask the advice of a couple of people who you trust, let them know what you have found with regards to information and what thoughts you have in mind, and then ask them if they believe there to be any other approach, which would make sense. Very often you need someone to give you that little nudge that kicks you into action.

Worst Case Scenario

The best advice which I can give to those who feel that they are overanalyzing a decision or a course of action is to simply break it down into ‘what is the worst that could happen’. This is going to really help you to get a grasp of how big or small this decision is, and that in turn will show how much analysis it really needs in the first place. If the worst-case scenario is financial ruin then yes, you need to ensure that you are fully on board, if not, however, it may not need so much analyzing at all.

Be mindful of doing this as it can seriously hold you back.