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Are you Affected by Paralysis by Analysis? How I try to Overcome My Issues

Paralysis by Analysis or Analysis Paralysis can be defined as

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 making any decision which could lead to erroneous results, when on the way to a better solution.

I think I have a natural tendency to be paralyzed by analysis.  I think this blog highlights that problem, look how much analysis/thought went into some recent posts (some of it may have been necessary):

How Do I Overcome Paralysis by Analysis?

Believe it or not, thinking it out and writing it out (usually in the form of blog posts) is therapeutic for me to get stuff done.  I don’t have any training nor have I read any books on this particular topic, I just know how I handle the situation.

Determine Your Issue

I usually start by really trying to determine my issue.  The issue needs to be clearly defined, otherwise you’ll be flopping around without a clue how to even analyze it.

Do the Results Matter?

I next determine that even if I were to do all the analyzing in the world would it matter?  Personal Finance is sometimes not about numbers, so next, I try to determine whether am I going to ignore the numbers.

If I am going to ignore what the numbers tell me, then I try to stop the paralysis and make some moves.  If however, I want the numbers I determine how can I analyze the problem.

How Are You Going to Analyze It?

I know that when I figure out whether that analysis won’t change my mind,  half my problems fade away and I can make a decision.   But let’s say you don’t have an issue that needs to be analyzed how do you do it?

If I have a numbers issue – I go to see the best site ever to see if someone has already created a calculator for the problem.  If not, I  grab a plain old excel spreadsheet!

If it is not a number issue, I try to put a simple pros and con list together (maybe I’ll do it in my head lol), and then…



Ever get paralyzed by analysis?



    • Do you ever not make moves because of your analyzing? Missing a great opportunity?

      The blog posts are examples of my over analyzing decisions that may not have needed all that analyzing.

      • I like to agonizingly analyze until nothing is left regarding big life changing things. Once I decide, i still with it 100% and don’t look back. I make sure that the choice I made is the right one.

        There’s nothing to regret, there are only things you don’t do.

        • Sam:

          Ugh. Businessweek had this disheartening slide show on 30 Ways to Wreck Your Career…

          Made a BIG career decision that landed me flat on my face. Picking up the pieces and moving on has led me to even greater paralysis by analysis…

  1. people who have worked for government for years are really good at doing this. they are trained to not speak up, not make waves, not suggest ways to improve things. in short, they are stuck in a BIG rut.

  2. I come from a risk management background in banking, so every morning it was, “What’s the worst thing that could happen today?” while eating my Frosted Flakes.

    One thing risk management did teach me is that you can’t completely eliminate a bad situation from happening. Instead, you mitigate it – you build in cushions and life rafts. Rather than get wrapped up in analysis paralysis, trying to find some number to indicate certain success or certain failure, we’d look at things more flexibly.

    Ultimately, indecision wastes time. And in personal finance, time is money.

  3. I’m a victim of over-analysis! Excel helps me though! Blogging not so much, but blogging has aided me in my communications skills 🙂

    I also like to write things down on paper, this helps me to focus on the area that I’m stuck on.

    If I just think about it without excel or paper, I got off on in to many directions in my head…

    Also, once I’ve started the task I run through to completion easily enough… It just getting started that’s hardest for me.

  4. Evan:

    Nice post. Was thinking about this exact topic myself recently. Beyond the pro/con – the potential benefits vs. repercussions are really important. It’s essentially the same as a Pro/Con, but you weight the items. You may have more cons on the list, but the significance of the pros outweigh those.

    Working backwards from the result I want is usually the approach. If you’re booking flights, are you going to agonize over small savings if you have to transfer 2+ times, fly out of some obscure airport, or wake up at 1am or just pull the trigger w/ the “best value” flight?

  5. Unlike Sam,

    I actually do tend to analyze my blog posts. Sometimes, I’ll have a few ideas for posts, and I won’t know which one to start with first.

    Or I’ll start one, but think it’s not worth writing because people might not want to read it, so I’ll trash it and think of something else.

    Rarely do I write freely. I hear lots of people say blogging is therapeutic, but I find it kind of stressful! Maybe it’s just the perfectionist in me.

    But like Derek says, indecision just wastes time.


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