Analysis Paralysis

Posted by on Feb 1, 2007 in Success!Ezine For You



E. Carol Webster, Ph.D.
Original Copyright © 2007

Can’t make a decision? Always waiting to get more facts, figures, and analyses? You may be suffering from analysis paralysis and have to break free of this grip if you are to be an effective manager of your staff or business. Fear is usually at the root of this problem. Many people have experienced harsh or guilt-evoking parenting with zero tolerance for mistakes, preventing them from gaining confidence in how to figure things out, try new strategies, and take some risks in order to excel. To cope, you learn to avoid punishment or ridicule by playing it safe — stalling until you feel sure that your solution is 100% correct – a condition that’s hard to attain. Thus, few decisions get made. Stop drifting along, feeling content to blame fate for the way things turn out. You have more control in life than that and can stand the heat that comes along with being a decision-maker.

  • End the Busy Work

Stop fooling around. Holding meeting after meeting, requesting more information, and pouring over papers and reports isn’t getting you anywhere. It may make you feel like you’re doing something because you’re busy reading about the problem and discussing it, but doing this doesn’t equal action. Of course, it’s important to collect data – particularly analyses of what worked and didn’t work in the past. But, simply being inundated with information is only a security blanket and you have to reach a point where you stop collecting and start taking action. Set a deadline and stick to it!

  • Trust Yourself

You didn’t get this far by not knowing something, so trust yourself to be able to make smart decisions. Get comfortable with the fact that there’s a degree of uncertainty and risk involved with every decision and that this is to be expected. Naturally, no one wants to be in a situation where they will be blamed for error but your boss is not your parent and even though some can be quite authoritarian in their manner, they typically want you and the business to succeed and understand that even with the best effort things don’t always turn out as planned. This doesn’t mean that they will accept repeated mistakes – nor should they – but you are likely to find them to be quite reasonable and not just waiting to see you mess up. Even when you’re the boss and the buck stops with you, or when you work alone and have to make lots of decisions that affect the lives of others, there will be many times when you’re not absolutely certain about what to do. Based upon your expertise, knowledge of the past, and new information at hand, — and yes, a little hunch and intuition too, some decision is likely to better than no decision at all.

  • Monitor Your Behavior

Since entrenched patterns of behavior are hard to break, get some help. Retain a coach or ask trusted colleagues to let you know when you’re overanalyzing a problem so that you can get yourself unstuck. It’s impossible to change behavior if you don’t know you’re doing something so it’s important for you to know when you’ve fallen into analysis paralysis mode. If you find that you can’t move to the point of making a decision, get expert help to address your fears of failure and of being blamed so that you can become the type of business manager you deserve to be.

Analysis paralysis is a professional crippler. It prevents you from doing your job effectively and keeps you inhibited by fear. Your true capabilities remain stifled, cheating your business of your great talents and limits your professional advancement. Get unstuck and watch your career soar!

About the Author:

Dr. E. Carol Webster is a clinical psychologist consultant in Fort Lauderdale, FL.
She is author of the book for those dealing with the stress of success ―
Success Management: How to Get to the Top and Keep Your Sanity Once You Get There,

The Fear of Success: Stop It From Stopping You! ―
the book to help you overcome fears that may be holding you back in your life and career
The Private Practice of Clinical Psychology in: Voices of Historical & Contemporary Black American Pioneers
To contact Dr. Webster visit online at or call 954.797.9766.

E. Carol Webster, Ph.D.
Clinical Psychology Consulting
Mailing Address: 7027 West Broward Boulevard, #262  Fort Lauderdale, FL 33317

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