Creating a plan is the first step toward taking action, which often means pushing toward the thing you would typically avoid. It is a step moving towards what is uncomfortable or what scares you.
What makes taking action so tricky for people who overthink is the fact that action typically goes against their impulses.
What is easier is to mull over a plan for the umpteenth time and deceive yourself into “playing it safe” (which means not doing anything until you think you know what to do).
However, your potential to predict the future is quite slim. And it is hard to see the possibility of success if all you have experienced is failure. Yet, it is only after several failures that most people get a chance at success.
This fear fixates overthinkers into inaction. It convinces them to believe that inaction does not hurt. However, while you may play it safe temporarily, it is important to realize that inaction may not hurt you now but will hurt you for the rest of your life.
And the longer you choose inaction over action, the harder it becomes to act.
How To Take Action
Here are some ways to cut the cord and step into taking action:
Just do it
Nike got it right when they chose “Just Do It” as their slogan. This step will help you stop overthinking, making you do what needs to be done immediately. By now, you know you can’t just sit around and think your way out of something.
But just doing it sounds much easier than going through it, especially if you are an overthinker.
This step also involves cutting ties with your thoughts and emotions. (Not all relationships, but just the irrational ones holding you back).
This means disregarding what your thoughts are babbling about and how your emotions are trying to hold you back. It is perhaps the best reminder to focus on the present and forget everything else.
This, however, does not mean that thoughts and emotions are useless. However, sometimes, you know when they hold you back. If you can disassociate with these temporarily, it becomes easier to act regardless of what others say.
This step can be beneficial if you are trying to establish a new habit or quit an old one.
Take the example of quitting smoking. By identifying less with your thoughts and emotions, you will improve faster and stick to your habit until it sticks to you.
Doing it is also useful when you don’t feel like doing something. For instance, your new habit may be to exercise every day, but today, you may not feel like working out.
In this scenario, you can find many excuses not to work out and slack off, but doing it without regard for these excuses may surprisingly make you feel better.
Exercise is known for boosting mood, so once you start, you may find out that you flip around mentally, and what felt like a drag before actually helped make you feel better and turned the rest of your day around.
Become result oriented
All actions work towards getting results. If you make this your motto, you may find it much easier to finish the job. Becoming result-oriented is also a very practical mindset for productivity and scoffs procrastination.
When you take action to get a result, everything else becomes insignificant. Only the result remains relevant; this mindset automatically puts all your focus into action.
There are a few advantages to becoming result-oriented as you work toward your target. First, there is a drive to action. And then there is flexibility.
For instance, if one action does not work as planned, you improvise and get things done another way. Since the result is all that matters, you will change how you do things to get there. This promotes flexibility.
Here is an example of result-oriented action: You must do the dishes, but chores are not the most exciting.
However, if you are result-oriented, you will see the scenario as something like this- you want an organized and clean kitchen, and you need to finish the dishes to achieve that.
You will do so quickly without giving it too much thought since that will get you the desired result.
Hold yourself accountable
This is a good check to monitor your actions versus inaction. When you hold yourself accountable to yourself, you establish your principles and standards of behavior. This is the first step.
But it is easy to cheat your way out of your accountability, especially if no one else knows what you are up to.
You may be tempted to rationalize your inaction to yourself and take a cheat day or two off. So, another way to ascertain action is to tell others about your plans.
Being accountable to others makes it harder not to do something as promised. If a bunch of people knows what you will do, you would not want to disappoint them by inaction or will have to face up to them the next time you see them.
This tip can work well for some people but may not be for everyone. It may put some at risk for taking action only to avoid judgment and create pressure within themselves.
But if you feel that you can create accountability for yourself to your standards, it may be more helpful when taking action than the one you receive from being accountable to others. You may need to review both options to see what works best.
This may seem a little out of sorts, but it is important not to take everything so seriously. And people who overthink tend to do exactly that.
Taking things too seriously is perhaps one of the most effective ways to discourage yourself from being proactive.
After all, there could be serious consequences and repercussions of the action you take to tell the mind of an overthinker to the person.
This possibility makes taking action feel too large, too difficult, and too intimidating simultaneously. Having a too serious mindset is a one-way street that creates big problems and negative feelings from pretty much nothing.
But if you relax and ease off, you will realize that the issues and negative emotions wandering inside your mind are simply the mind’s creations and nothing more.
Without such a negative state of mind, your projects will also appear lighter and less cumbersome to get started on.
Too often, overthinkers fail to discriminate between what is important and what isn’t since they think about everything.
On the other hand, lighting up will also help you distinguish the important stuff from the unimportant, leaving you more time and energy for what matters.
Prepare a to-do list.
If you pair the previous step up with preparing a to-do list, taking action can become even easier.
When you have a to-do list, it becomes a visual reminder of what needs to be done and where to take action.
Visual reminders are also a great tool to limit the wanderings of a rambling mind.
Plus, the list also acts as a filter to separate the important things from the unimportant. You (or your busy mind) need not worry about things not on the list.
When creating your list, remember to make it precise and limited. This is important as it is easy to become overly passionate when penning down what needs to be done.
Or, you may make a long list that eventually fills you with dread, makes you feel weary, and sets you in the temptation to procrastinate.
Instead, having a short list of three to four items is better, and everything else can go on a different list.
A shorter list will be less frightening and make it simpler to take action and get the work done.
Get rid of the “what if.”
The “what if” dilemma can affect your mind. It can lead you to devote days, weeks, months, and sometimes even years just contemplating what might happen should you take action.
A better suggestion is redirecting the focus from “what if” to “how.” Rather than let your mind meander over “what if,” think about the course of action you will follow to do something, solve a problem, or reach a goal.
How you plan to achieve all these things and what you must do to get there is a better and more relevant way to engage the mind.
Focusing on “how” to take action not only puts your thinking skills to use better but also helps establish a positive outlook.
It replaces resolve with resolution, which in turn makes it quicker to take action in the absence of overthinking possible scenarios.
To sum up, quieting an on-the-go mind requires active participation. You can only do so when you stop being a constant worrywart and put some action into motion.
While some anxiety and worry are normal, overthinking everything takes it beyond the bounds of normalcy if it starts to affect routine life.
Still, breaking the habit with a few simple changes can help free your mind and become proactive rather than be fixated on the negative.