In an earlier blog, we talked about worrying

Analysis paralysis = unproductive planning.

Sometimes, when we’re planning something or analyzing a situation in our mind, we’re actually worrying and repeating the same thought over and over again. We’re trying to legitimize worrying by labeling it “planning” and pretending it’s productive, but it’s not.

Personally, I think about 80% of my mental planning is bullsh*t. It’s repetitive and unhelpful.

I’m not taking action or making a decision to move things forward. Instead, I’m wasting time analyzing a situation or debating between two options over and over again. Sure, it can be helpful to ruminate and let the answer emerge. But when I really step back and observe my inner dialogue, most of the time these “planning” thoughts are not helpful.

Analysis can be a form of worry or fear.

There are times when analysis serves you well. Other times, it’s a time suck and you just need to stop second guessing yourself and make a decision (sh*t or get off the pot Clark).

Or don’t make a decision, but decide to table the decision and stop over-thinking it!

When you’re spinning your wheels, you end up wasting time.

The deeper issue is fear.

Often when we’re over-analyzing something, it’s because we’re scared of making a mistake, choosing a less than optimal option, or getting it wrong. Maybe we’re trying to be perfect and are putting a lot of pressure on ourselves. Perhaps we’re trying to justify a decision that feels wrong because it’s what we “should” do. All of these issues are rooted in fear.

Unmask the fear and move into productive planning.

When I think of all the “planning” and “analysis” I’ve done that wasn’t really serving me and was actually disguised worry or fear, there are a few common categories that are red flags.

Is your analysis or planning unproductive? See if it falls into any of these categories:

1) Repetitive.

If you’re analyzing the same situation over and over again, spinning your wheels like a car stuck in the mud that keeps revving its engine to no effect, that’s a good sign that it’s time to stop analyzing that particular predicament. Take a break. Divert your attention to something in the present moment, like the rise and fall of your chest as you inhale and exhale. Or the laugh of your child or the happy bark of your dog. Focus on something you’re grateful for.

2) Premature.

During our Soul Planner Power Hour call yesterday(free to join), one woman found herself debating whether she should charge money for a new resource she wanted to create, or give it away for free. She was very excited and energized visualizing the outline, but then she went into analysis on what to charge for the finished product and this form of worry took away her mojo.

Sometimes, it’s just not time to make a decision yet.

As we discussed it afterwards, she realized it was too early to even be making a decision about what to charge for this product. She had to create it first! She was doing what I call “premature planning,” when your mind is spending time analyzing a situation when it’s not yet time to make that decision. We often jump the gun and waste mental energy trying to plan an outcome or anticipate a future situation when we don’t yet have enough information or certain steps must come first. In those cases, this premature planning or analysis is not useful. It’s a form of worry.

3) Pitfall.

If you find yourself thinking of all the things that could possibly go wrong, and you’ve justified this to yourself as productive because you’re looking out for things to avoid…joke’s on you! (says your ego). It could just be worry in disguise. Yes, it’s helpful to see around the bend and anticipate what could go wrong, but focusing on this too much is counter-productive. It’s a form of worry, not productive planning.

Perhaps it’s useful to anticipate a future pitfall once (although I’d even argue that’s often not really helpful or necessary), but when you keep re-visiting it, you haven’t flagged any new concerns. You’re ruminating in a way that’s unproductive. It can be a fine line between anticipating what could go wrong in a way that’s useful, and unnecessary worrying. But if you pay attention, you can sense when you’ve crossed that line (trust me, it’s more often than you think!)

4) Listing To Do’s

I catch myself all the time ruminating on To Do’s without doing anything. Planning, ruminating, thinking and analyzing…not taking action. Heck, I can’t even look around my house without seeing To Do’s everywhere I turn (“I need to clear the kids clutter on that table. Ugh, that plant looks sad and needs to be watered. Should I bake cookies? I really want Brent to carry those dang Christmas ornaments into the garage. I still haven’t finished writing my blog for tomorrow.'”)

This tendency to ABP (Always Be Planning) can be a subtle or disguised form of anxiety or worry.

When you sit down to meditate and quiet the mind, many people begin thinking about all the things they need to do. It’s like your To Do list is on auto-repeat in your mind and never shuts off.

To Do thoughts without action create mind clutter.

When you’re driving somewhere, standing in line, or trying to quiet your mind but instead keep thinking of all the things you need to do, it isn’t actually that helpful. It’s stressful because you can’t take action on those thoughts at the moment.

Now I’d love to hear from you! In what ways has your planning or analysis served you, and in what ways do you think you’ve spun your wheels unnecessarily? Is your “planning” often a form of worry or anxiety? How can you relax and trust more, and analyze less?

Leave a comment below and join the conversation! We really would love to hear your thoughts, so please leave a comment.

May you create work and a life you love,

Vanessa

P.S. Don’t forget to get your Downloadable Weekly Planning Guide! Also available in soft cover journal on Amazon HERE.

It’s the best tool I know to help you get organized, stay focused on top priorities and make sure you carve out time for things that feed your soul each week.

Focus on what matters, follow your heart.

You can also join our Weekly Soul Planner Power Hour for the month of February for FREE.

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