According to Wikipedia “Analysis paralysis is the state of over-analyzing (or over-thinking) a situation so that a decision or action is never taken, in effect paralyzing the outcome. A decision can be treated as over-complicated, with too many detailed options, so that a choice is never made, rather than try something and change if a major problem arises. A person might be seeking the optimal or “perfect” solution upfront, and fear to make any decision which could lead to erroneous results, while on the way to a better solution.”
Let’s understand this and most probably find a solution and motivation to solve this problem from your life. At the end of this blog post, I will share a real-life case study which I recently get to know in an event
Analysis paralysis is happening for two reason
- When you over analyzed data and have too many options
- When you are scared of taking any action
When you have lots of data and you actually have lots of options, you actually freeze to take the decision. In another way, we call it choice Paralysis or if we go by the book of American psychologist “Barry Schwartz” we can call it the paradox of choices.
Why it is happening, the reason is called FOMO or “fear of missing out”, FOMO perpetuates the fear of having made the wrong decision on how to spend time, as “you can imagine how things could be different”.
It comes to again the 2nd option we talk about earlier – ” When you are scared of taking any action because of the outcome” In this case you are scared of the outcome of each option you have because you overanalyzed upcoming result.
If you look closely both options complete each other, the option where you overanalyzed things prey on your fear and the option where you are scared to take action is prey on over analyzing.
Effect of Analysis Paralysis
- It will lead you to depression
- It will stop you from taking any action
Now I already posted a long post about depression, so please go and read Can We Deal With Depression
How we make the perfect decision
I am going to base this on my real life experiences and a book by Barry Schwartz called ” The Paradox of Choices – Why Less is More”
before we start with how we make decisions, let’s talk about Occam’ss razor
Occam’s (or Ockham’s) razor is a principle attributed to the 14th-century logician and Franciscan friar William of Ockham. Ockham was the village in the English county of Surrey where he was born. many scientists have used his theory to explain many things.
In simple language, if you have two similar choices then the best choice would be the simplest one. If you keep this in mind it will help you cut down few choices so that you have fewer choices to deal with.
Now Human mind is fascinating, we make the decision based on various things but the most interesting part is that our brain is lazy and want to use lesser resources so it starts to find the simplest path to get things done, so it uses experiences and habits to do this. our day to day decisions is influenced by this.
- Figure out your goal or goals. The process of goal-setting and decision making begins with the question: “What do I want?” When faced with the choice to pick a restaurant, a CD, or a movie, one makes their choice based upon how one would expect the experience to make them feel, expected utility. Once they have experienced that particular restaurant, CD or movie, their choice will be based on a remembered utility. To say that you know what you want, therefore, means that these utilities align. Nobel Prize-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman and his colleagues have shown that what we remember about the pleasurable quality of our past experiences is almost entirely determined by two things: how the experiences felt when they were at their peak (best or worst), and how they felt when they ended.
- Evaluate the importance of each goal. Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky have researched how people make decisions and found a variety of rules of thumb that often lead us astray. Most people give substantial weight to anecdotal evidence, perhaps so much so that it cancels out expert evidence. The researchers called it the availability heuristic describing how we assume that the more available some piece of information is to memory, the more frequently we must have encountered it in the past. Salience will influence the weight we give any particular piece of information.
- Array the options. Kahneman and Tversky found that personal “psychological accounts” will produce the effect of framing the choice and determining what options are considered as subjects to factor. For example, an evening at a concert could be just one entry in a much larger account, of say a “meeting a potential mate” account. Or it could be part of a more general account such as “ways to spend a Friday night”. Just how much an evening at a concert is worth will depend on which account it is a part of.
- Evaluate how likely each of the options is to meet your goals. People often talk about how “creative accountants can make a corporate balance sheet look as good or bad as they want it to look.” In many ways, Schwartz views most people as creative accountants when it comes to keeping their own psychological balance sheet.
- Pick the winning option. Schwartz argues that options are already attached to choices being considered. When the options are not already attached, they are not part of the endowment and choosing them is perceived as a gain. Economist Richard Thaler provides a helpful term sunk costs.
- Modify goals. Schwartz points out that later, one uses the consequences of their choice to modify their goals, the importance assigned to them, and the way future possibilities are evaluated.
Now since we know how psychologically we make choices it will be easier for us to overcome Analysis Paralysis, but here are few tips to do that
- Take a decision if you are in the loop and afraid of taking the decision, it doesn’t matter it is good or bad by doing it you will escape from endless circle of your own comfort zone
- Differentiate between big, small, instant or regular decisions.
- Identify your objective of doing anything
- Set up a timeline and action plan
- Don’t go for the perfection, apply the concept of MVP ( Minimum Viable Product), make the decision first and work on making it perfect rather than wait for the perfect decision
- Get opinions of your trusted people
- Channelize your energy once you made a decision toward your goal
- Trust yourself
Real life case study on Analysis paralysis and how this guy overcome this
There is a community of entrepreneur on Facebook called Pushstart, this is fastest growing community in India and one of the most engaging one, they do the offline meetup and they call it #PushMeet. I was there in one Pushmeet in Delhi NCR. I met a guy who told me his story and our conversation a few months back.
The guy was extremely introvert and in depression. He did his engineering from IIT Roorkee in Civil Engineering due to family pressure but his interest was somewhere else, when placement comes he got placed in some companies but do not want to go there.
He basically falls in 2nd category he had two choices first in which he has to go to do the job as a civil engineer where his family would be happy he will not, 2nd he can go to explorer his passion which is farming, in this situation his family will not be very happy because they do not see the big picture.
Pushstart host anonymous question asking to its member who is introvert, a great way to engage the people who are scared by giving them no face. He asked his question there and I replied him along with many other guys, he messaged me.
I told him, buddy, right now you are in a circle, if you do not break free then you will remain there for a long time, its a closed space and your fear will eat you up, wake up and take a decision. If you take a decision then you will have two paths one is right path and another is the wrong path, now suppose we are calculating worst case scenario and you are in a wrong path, and buddy a path can be changed but a circle is infinite, it has no start and no end. Just take a decision and try to improve it, work hard on that path.
RIght now this introvert guy told us about his journey, he is no more a introvert guy or a shy guy in a corner and doing what he loves farming.