Why Too Much Analysis Can Ruin Your Life

Image via Unsplash/Patryk Sobczak

“The unexamined life is not worth living, but if all you’re doing is examining, you’re not living.” -Adam Leipzig

It’s easy to fall into the trap of too much analysis. Especially with constant Internet access, we can now search for answers to any question imaginable at any time of day. The capacity to question is a uniquely human gift, but it’s possible to have too much of a good thing. When it comes to analyzing important decisions, we can fall into a vicious cycle, gathering information to the point of paralysis.

If you’ve been agonizing over a decision between several things or a chance you may or may not take, remember that there are even more opportunities beyond those. This isn’t to make you anxiously consider even more possibilities; rather, it’s meant to help you recognize the insanity of trying to choose the “perfect” option. You can’t consider every path. It’s impossible.

Searching for one precise thing (career, spouse, home, etc.) that will be “the right one” or the one that will solve all your problems is futile. There is often no “right” option. There are only a series of good, bad and in-between options that we must navigate. As long as your choices are not leading you to unhealthy things, there’s no need to agonize over each decision with a laundry list of pros and cons.

Simply put, every choice has pros and cons. If you find yourself making decisions and regretting them, consider whether they are really regrettable. Would you really be that much better off if you’d chosen another path, or would you be doing the same thing — regretting it either way?

Sometimes we overanalyze simply because we don’t think we’re ready to handle a decision or a new role. In these cases, if we weren’t analyzing so much, there wouldn’t even be a problem.

To an extent, analysis is extremely useful. But spending more time on analysis than action can create more confusion than necessary. Overanalyzing could cause you to feel stuck and forever in need of more research, questioning, examining, etc. At that point, you may never feel confident that you’ve found the “right” solution.

There are a few things we can do to determine whether we’re overanalyzing or not. Give yourself a time limit for research. If you’re considering leaving a job or moving away, for example, don’t spend years fretting over it. Talk to others and do your research, but give yourself a time limit. If you’ve been stressing and there is still no obvious decision, more analysis probably won’t help. You can either take a leap of faith or simply wait until things become more clear to you.

Avoid making decisions based on fear. Fear shouldn’t be a deciding factor in any decision-making process. It may steer you toward the path of least resistance or toward something you truly don’t want.

Overanalysis can be exhausting, and exhausted people don’t make the best decisions. So the next time you’re really stuck, give yourself permission to stop analyzing. The answer may come from an unexpected source, a new development or simply from the act of relaxing your mind.