Analysis Paralysis

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I want to help people understand the idea of “analysis paralysis” and when and how they do it. I want to help them understand that sometimes their minds and intellects are distracting and diverting them from their goals rather than helping them to achieve them.

But how do you intellectually explain to someone that their over-intellectualization is just them avoiding their anxieties and emotional problems, their real problems? How do you get them to understand that when they perceive everything through an intellectual lens? How do you show them that most of their planning and studying and strategizing has been a means to avoid their goals rather than a means to achieve their goals? How do you distinguish between that fine line of planning just enough and planning way too much? Where is that line?

I think the line between analysis and over-analysis is where more thinking makes action less likely rather than more likely.

But a certain internal awareness is required to recognize this. I’m afraid those who are disconnected the most from their emotions are going to see this idea as merely another invitation to analyze their own thoughts and actions even further, rather than getting in touch with the underlying emotion and anxiety, thus once again avoiding their goal.

I wish I could figure out how to write in such a way to tap into each reader’s personal self-awareness so that they actually feel themselves over-analyzing, over-thinking, and making something far more complicated and drawn out than it needs to be. They can feel the avoidance, the mental garbage, the thought vomit spewing out and drowning their ability to act.

I suppose any technique used to do this would require playing with perspective — presenting thoughts in a first-person perspective, but making an obvious meta-perspective of satirical analysis of said first-person perspective. That way the reader can directly relate to the immediate writing while being forced into a meta-awareness of the writing — a postmodern form of life advice.

How many paragraphs should I make it though? Studies show that most readers tune out after 500 words or so, yet my metrics show that articles of 2,000 and more words are read and shared the most often. Ironically, a blog post lacking in analysis paralysis would be short, yet the first-person meta-perspective technique described above would necessitate a longer post to fully communicate the point. Should I be blunt about being blunt, or be long-winded to demonstrate why you shouldn’t be long-winded?

And then there’s the issue of vocabulary. Do I use big, fancy, psychological words to play up the whole over-analysis spoof? Or do I keep things simple and to the point. I’ve always worried about user readability. I’m kind of a dork and over-use big words and maybe that turns off some readers. Who knows, maybe I could have twice the readership if I wrote like a 15-year-old. And if I had twice the readership, that means potentially helping twice as many people. I should apply the Flesch-Kincaid Readability Scale to some of my articles, cross-reference them with my traffic metrics, and then tabulate those along with my marketing surveys to find the correct readability and proper vocabulary based on the site’s reader demographics, performance of prior articles, expected education level of various readers, and then of course, a qualitative analysis of commenting histories.

Nerd typing on a keyboard

And fonts. Research shows Arial is most readable, but I feel like a Serif font demonstrates a more erudite tendency to overthink simple situations. Also, they’ve found screen resolution has a great deal to do with font readability. I imagine most of my readers are young and savvy and not reading this at a low resolution, but isn’t it better to be safe than sorry?

Readability is so important. I really, really, really want the reader to get the point that they should not be over-thinking simple situations, that they should just get to the point and go for it and learn from their failures. I think (hope) that constructing a post which is over-thinking a simple post about over-thinking will not cause readers to over-think the simple post.

And then there’s the formatting techniques to increase readability such as catchy headers, lists, and sparse and short paragraphs broken with double line-breaks.

Perhaps I should create simple lists for people: “7 Signs You’re Over-thinking Your Life,” or “5 Most Common Situations You Think Are Difficult, But Actually Aren’t” or “10 Reasons Why Your Mind Is Screwing Up Your Life,” or perhaps “6 Ways to Think About This Blog Post Too Much.”

Wow, this is getting pretty dense. It’s a lot to keep in mind. I should construct some sort of model to organize all of the important information I’ve uncovered about writing a blog post about over-analyzing blog posts. I should organize the information in a simple, and easy-to-understand manner. Yes, that’s important. That way, I can write the blog post quickly and easily when I finally get around to it.

The model should have three primary components: aesthetics, theoretical content and organization. I’ll create a 7-point, step-by-step process for organizing the blog’s content as well. Theoretical content and framework should come first, organization second, and finally aesthetics. Perhaps I could compare my model to other blog posting models and combine their frameworks to get a more complete understanding of how I should explain analysis paralysis to my readers. Yes, in fact, while I’m at it, I should dig up some books and research on prose, persuasion and presentation. Three P’s. I like that. I’ll write that down and organize all of my sources into one of each of the three P’s and then transpose all relative information into my aggregation of blog post models (mapped out in an Excel spreadsheet for easy comprehension), and then from there, recreate my original 7-step process for writing the post itself.

Wow, I’ve already accomplished so much, I can’t wait until I actually do something.

So often, people take simple situations and over-complicate them. They do it out of nervousness, anxiety or pride. They assume, since something feels difficult, that it must be because they lack the proper knowledge to do it, not that it’s merely emotionally difficult for them.

Intellectualizing situations often distracts us from the difficult truths: that someone flaked on you because they simply don’t like you enough to make time for you; that there’s no guarantee that your new business will make money; that no matter what you say to someone when you meet them, there’s always chance they will reject you; that no matter how much you plan every minute of your vacation, you will not enjoy parts of it; that breaking up with your girlfriend/boyfriend will be incredibly painful no matter how you go about it.

Analysis paralysis allows us to avoid a difficult emotional situation while feeling like we’re accomplishing something by analyzing it. Our minds lead us into an illusion of progress and effort without actual real progress or effort.

The best answer to most problems is usually the simplest one.

They’re not playing head games by not texting you, they just don’t like you. The only way you can know if your business idea will work is by trying it. You won’t know if someone will like you or not until you speak to them. You won’t know if you like your vacation until you go on it. There’s no easy way to dump someone, so just do it.

Stop thinking and act.