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How to Win the Fight Against Analysis Paralysis

Analysis paralysis can seriously impede our ability to make progress in our lives. Personally. Professionally. Financially. With friends, family, colleagues. The list goes on and on…

It is also super common. I have never asked one person who hasn’t admitted to suffering from analysis paralysis in one form or another.

And it is hard to resist. Evolutionarily, analysis paralysis makes sense. We are a loss adverse species in which losses hurt a lot more than wins give us pleasure. We are hardwired to scrutinize the decisions we make with an emphasis on not making the wrong one.

analysis paralysis
Don’t let analysis paralysis get in your way!

And that is what the driving force of analysis paralysis is…fear!

How often have you seen someone that is deciding between two good things? It really can be anything.

Maybe it’s something serious like the decision to pay down debt or invest in index funds…both options are great.

I hate to admit it but I even experience analysis paralysis about some pretty dumb (but very good) things, like what do order for dinner…sushi or burgers? (Just ask Selenid, it drives her absolutely nuts.)

For a person on the outside of the situation, it’s so easy to realize that either decision would be fine, great even. It can even be kind of annoying that the other person doesn’t just make.a.decision.

But when you are the person stuck in the decision, your brain tricks you into feeling like this is the most important thing in the world and it can be hard to disengage and move forward.

The bigger the issue, the tougher it is to break free

This isn’t so much a scientific fact that I can prove. But rather an observation over my lifetime.

Usually, I can break out of the food decision pretty quick when Selenid just yells and me and snaps me out of it.

But it was much tougher when we were deciding to sign the contract on our first investment rental real estate property.

It was a huge leap into the unknown in our life. And even though we had prepared beforehand, it felt scary. Our Neanderthal brains started screaming warning sirens.

But, we went ahead and did it. And it turned out great!

Let me touch on an even more personal example

The decision to have children.

My wife and I always knew that we wanted multiple children. It wasn’t even a question and we were both so on the same page.

But, the tough question then came…when?

I was in the middle of my plastic surgery residency. Selenid was in the middle of her PhD program. We lived in a tiny one bedroom apartment in New York City. Finances were already tight (mostly due to my ignorance).

We did so many pro/con lists, both mentally and otherwise. We talked about why it made sense to start having kids now, why it made sense later. On and on.

We ended up having two children during our residency and PhD program, respectively. Our kids, Samuel and Emery, are the best parts of our lives.

So, how did we overcome the analysis paralysis?

I’ve just provided two personal examples of analysis paralysis impacting my life and, if Im being honest, impeding my success.

I could give hundreds of more examples and I’m sure these have jogged your brain of a few examples from your life.

If we had given into these brain traps, our lives would be worse, not better. The irony is that our brain is trying to protect us through these mental exercises.

I can sum up our strategy for defeating analysis paralysis in just three words and one cliche…Just.Do.It.

I know that seems almost insultingly simple

But this is really what we did and what we continue to do when we recognize that we, or one another, are going down this road.

In regards to our start in real estate investing, we trusted ourselves and moved forward into the scary financial unknown. When we decided to learn about real estate investing, we made a decision to follow it through. (You can start to learn what you need to get started here!) We prepared and when we got to the point of no return, we trusted our part selves that told us we could do it.

And we did it.

We did the exact same thing in a much less informed way when deciding when to begin having kids.

If you have children, you know that there is no preparation that can even begin to get you ready. But we trusted ourselves as loving and successful people that could provide an excellent live for our children while also balancing our professional ambitions.

Now, this is not to say that achieving this balance was easy. It was super hard. It took a LOT of mindset work, particularly on my end. But I trusted that I could do it and so I did.

analysis paralysis
The absolute best

The same can be said about real estate investing. I’m not trying to say that it became easy once we pushed through analysis paralysis. It was hard work that is becoming more passive for us. But we trusted that we could figure not out and be successful so we did and are.

Analysis paralysis doesn’t go away

Like so many things in this world, analysis paralysis is not one of those things that you conquer once and for all.

It’s a constant effort.

But it does get easier. Once your have developed the tools, you become more adept at implementing them when the time arises.

Selenid and I definitely still felt that analysis paralysis before submitting the offer on our second investment property. But we moved forward. We are moving towards closing now. It is a decision that will accelerate our wealth, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be scary!

We also felt it about deciding to have our second child, Emery. We were both still in training in New York City and it seemed like all our time was spoken for. “Are we crazy?!,” we thought. But we used our mindset strategies to overcome and guess what…we became better than ever!

What about analysis paralysis in the negative?

Sometime, you may be facing a tough decision. And the right answer may be to not move forward or not do something. This is what I mean by analysis paralysis in the negative.

And this is totally ok.

Do not feel that just because your are experiencing analysis paralysis means that you should just leap without thinking or preparation. Sometimes the best thing is to keep the course. Sometimes more preparation is truly needed.

The key to overcoming is trusting yourself

You need to learn to trust yourself. You will know what the right move and decision is. Your heart or gut or soul or whatever you want to call it will Abe telling you. Meanwhile, your cavewoman brain will still be wrestling to try and protect you.

I’m no GI doc, but I say trust your gut.

Two great ways to get started with this mindset work is to:

And remember to stay in the GAIN!

Put simply, the GAP is when life happens to us. It’s when we have an experience and immediately put the locus of control outside of ourselves.

We feel upset, angry, sorry, sad, etc. And then we let that event or experience define some portion of us, however big or small.

And the GAIN?

Naturally, the GAIN is the opposite of the GAP. It’s when life happens for us. An event happens and we get to decide the meaning that it takes for us. We define its meaning and make it a positive, learning experience. Whether the event is good or bad.

We own the locus of control.

But there’s more…

The other big premise of The GAP and The GAIN is that our culture is obsessed with the Jeffersonian “pursuit of happiness.” By definition, this concept of happiness always places it out of our reach. We are always pursuing it.

Because of this, we are all guilty of measuring our success and happiness based on where we are now versus where we want to be – our ideal. This is a recipe for disaster.

Instead, we need to measure our success and happiness based on where we were to where we are now. Then happiness and fulfillment becomes the present while our ideals still guide us like a rudder.

In the end…

Analysis paralysis is something we all experience. It’s normal. But that doesn’t mean it needs to derail your progress. Embrace massive action to create your best life!

And if you are looking for a jumpstart, check out my free masterclass webinar on The 12 Steps to Financial Freedom for Physicians!

What do you think? When have you experienced analysis paralysis? How did you overcome it? Let me know in the comments below!

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    Jordan Frey MD, a plastic surgeon in Buffalo, NY, is one of the fastest-growing physician finance bloggers in the world. See how he went from financially clueless to increasing his net worth by $1M in 1 year and how you can do the same! Feel free to send Jordan a message at [email protected].

    6 thoughts on “How to Win the Fight Against Analysis Paralysis”

    1. TPPS,

      As always a great relatable post. Anyone investing in real estate has experienced analysis paralysis. It is one the main topics that is regularly discussed on the bigger pockets podcast. I like how you point out that it also occurs in our personal lives outside of business and that it can sometimes be hard to identify. With real estate it is easier to notice when we are stuck and I agree that it is usually fear based. As physicians we are trained to “do no harm” we look to help others as well as look to avoid situations that could cause harm. In real estate the purchase price of a property can be high which escalates the “risk” and fear in our minds…. “do no harm” but applied to our finances…. don’t buy this property because it will not work out and you will lose everything… the reality is that even if you “lose” on a deal it will not likely end you financially. The reality is you will probably gain a great education on a “bad” deal and grow further in the long run. If you listen to bigger pockets the co-host David Greene talks about his first property that sounded like a total nightmare…. he learned a ton, did not give up and is now a major investor. Moving past analysis paralysis and accepting risk is the only way to grow. Thank you for sharing your experience.

    2. Great post! … An aphorism this reminds me of is how perfection is the enemy of good. Sometimes trying to analyze something perfectly leads to not completing a good analysis on time.


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