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What Is Analysis Paralysis?

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  • Written By: Jacob Queen
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 22 October 2014
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Analysis paralysis is the condition where people become so caught up in planning that they can't bring themselves to actually act on their plans. This usually comes from a fear of what might happen if there is a mistake. Dealing with analysis paralysis is generally a process of getting rid of the fear or finding a way to live with it. Usually, people suffer from this problem when facing major decisions that could have long-term consequences, but some people may even have trouble making small decisions that don't matter that much.

Many people thrive on predictability, and they may not like anything where they can't predict the outcome with 100-percent effectiveness. This is one of the main things that causes analysis paralysis. People want to study something as much as possible until they feel absolutely certain that they've figured out the outcome. Sometimes it isn't really possible to achieve this level of certainty, and when people refuse to recognize this fact, analysis paralysis can set in.

People suffer from analysis paralysis in a wide variety of situations. For example, it can pop up when people are making business decisions, and it can be crippling for executives trying to decide how to proceed in uncertain situations. It also often affects people when dealing with major personal decisions, career choices, or financial options.

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People suffering from analysis paralysis may spend a lot of time online researching things. In fact, some people believe that access to the internet may actually cause people to suffer from this problem more frequently. Prior to the internet, it wasn't as easy to access information about any subject, so people may have been more willing to take risks with less data. Experts suggest that doing massive amounts of research can be a good thing up to a certain point because it helps people make better choices, but people generally need to draw the line somewhere, and finding that line can be difficult for some.

Overcoming analysis paralysis is usually a process of simply deciding to go ahead and act instead of continuing to worry, but this is often much more difficult than it might sound. When people reach a mental impasse on an important decision, it can be hard to simply ignore the inner feeling of indecisiveness. Some experts recommend that people should simply follow their instincts, while others recommend lists of pros and cons or other analytic methods.

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