Overthinking may be hurting you; here’s how to avoid it

Thinking is good. Many of our biggest mistakes come from not thinking things through. Most of our best breakthroughs come from thinking about problems and opportunities.

But it doesn’t follow that the more thinking you do, the better it gets. In fact, too much thinking can do as much damage as not enough.

Overthinking is a common problem at many nonprofits. I think it’s the consensus-driven, cautious, non-entrepreneurial culture of our sector. We’re terrified of mistakes. So we think, and think, and think. Which causes several things to happen:


  • Things get increasingly complicated and murky. If you try to anticipate every possible problem and then engineer each one out of existence, you create a crazy labyrinth that often ends up not succeeding while it’s not failing.
  • You miss deadlines. And missed time can kill your best projects.
  • Sucks the life and energy out of almost anything, turning great to mediocre and decent to crappy.

The cost is real.

Leadership Freak blog looked recently at overthinking, at 10 reasons you’re an overthinker:


  1. Thinking is safe.
  2. Thinking feels like doing even though it isn’t.
  3. Thinking makes you look smart.
  4. Thinking helps you prepare solutions for imaginary problems.
  5. You fear not having an answer.
  6. You don’t trust yourself enough to find solutions as you go.
  7. Your organization is filled with people protecting their turf.
  8. Fear of failure rather than passion drives you.
  9. You speculate about the motives of others.
  10. You don’t know where you’re going.

Think about it — some, but not too much. You can make your life and your work so much better if you don’t overthink.


Comments

10 responses to “Overthinking may be hurting you; here’s how to avoid it”

  1. Jeff,
    I’m delighted you found something I wrote useful.
    Best to you in your blogging.
    Cheers,
    Dan Rockwell
    Leadership Freak

  2. Jeff,
    I’m delighted you found something I wrote useful.
    Best to you in your blogging.
    Cheers,
    Dan Rockwell
    Leadership Freak

  3. Jeff, thanks for the reminder. Some of my best ideas come to me while swimming laps, when my mind is absolutely empty (other than the 1, 2, 3 of counting laps). Somehow that opens up the room for insight and creativity!

  4. Jeff, thanks for the reminder. Some of my best ideas come to me while swimming laps, when my mind is absolutely empty (other than the 1, 2, 3 of counting laps). Somehow that opens up the room for insight and creativity!

  5. Classic mistake for anyone, not just non-profits! I find myself thinking about whether I should even be thinking about something…appreciate the humor you take on this one!

  6. Classic mistake for anyone, not just non-profits! I find myself thinking about whether I should even be thinking about something…appreciate the humor you take on this one!

  7. In the tech world, we value rapid iteration and agile development. Taking these concepts to the non-profit world could translate quite well. Glad you mentioned not overthinking things and just doing it!

  8. In the tech world, we value rapid iteration and agile development. Taking these concepts to the non-profit world could translate quite well. Glad you mentioned not overthinking things and just doing it!

  9. I just read another blog saying that non-profits need to take more time for reflection. Hmmm. Which is it?

  10. I just read another blog saying that non-profits need to take more time for reflection. Hmmm. Which is it?

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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

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