Analysis Paralysis And The Getting Started Window
Getting started with something new…something we’ve never attempted before can be terrifying. We ask ourselves questions like, “What if I’m wasting my time?” “What if it doesn’t work out for ME?” “What if I don’t know enough or aren’t good enough?” These questions nag at us and we start to think that if we JUST had enough information or some assurance it would work out, we’d have no problem getting started. If only I knew it would work for me…THEN I’d _____. We can end up waiting for assurances that won’t ever come and miss out on great opportunities when they present themselves if we don’t take action.
There are experts that offer to sell us the information that will get us there, but how do we know if they’re being honest about their success? Their process? Others (like us) give it away for FREE, but you still have to wonder whether it’s actually as easy as they make it out to be…will it really work out for you? Maybe if I was absolutely sure it would work out for me I’d take action…know the feeling?
The “Analysis Paralysis” Problem
Some of us end up doing a ton of research about the when’s, how’s, why’s, etc. before we’re willing to get started. We look to others that are further ahead and ask for advice. We ask those around us for assurances that it will work out for us if we get started. Ultimately, if you take in enough information and enough time goes by, you start to doubt your ability to make it work as there’s so much conflicting information available. (Using the example of niche site creation: Should you spin content or not spin content to article directories? Should you include more or less content on the sites? Should you work on niche sites or authority sites? What if the AdSense account were to get disabled? etc.)
The “Get Started” Window
I’m not saying you shouldn’t research a subject before you get started, but the research should be limited to figuring out whether the project or idea is viable and then to the steps you need to take to get started…that’s it! For most of us, myself included, going past that point is when doubt starts to creep in and we begin second-guessing ourselves.
Another sign you’ve waited too long to get started is when you feel an overwhelming urge to tell people about what you’re GOING to do. There’s a great article from Derek Sivers that lays out the reasons why talking about something before you do it is a sure-fire way to ensure that it never gets done. (TED video on the subject here) The basic principle is that by talking about it you get a sense of satisfaction, similar to the feeling you might have if you’ve already completed it. It’s a little painful to think that this applies to us too, but the truth is that it’s likely we’re the rule here and not the exception…
Signs You’ve Missed The Boat
Once the doubt has crept in or we start feeling the cognitive dissonance that comes from telling people we’re going to do something and not getting started, there are a couple of options for us:
- Justify Not Getting Started – We begin the process of convincing ourselves or others that there are serious flaws, it wouldn’t have worked for us, the “experts” are not being truthful, etc. It’s painful to think we missed an opportunity, so we take potential problems and extrapolate them, making mountains out of molehills.
- New Shiny Object Syndrome – We completely forget about our original plan and distract ourselves with the something brighter, newer, and “better”. We then proceed to tell our friends or family ALL about the new thing we’re chasing and completely dismiss any questions regarding our previous plans.
#2 isn’t as tempting for me because the questions from friends/family end up getting to me and I can’t easily move past them, but I have friends that struggle with this one. #1 is my personal fall-back of choice, unfortunately. I love to argue/debate, so I can readily come up with counterpoints to my original plan that make it seem MUCH less appealing, thereby justfying my lack of action!
On Learning Vs. Action
I like Sebastian Marshall’s post discussing Learning Vs. Action. Not getting started seems like the safer bet…you can’t fail if you never start, right? The problem (and he argues this well, I think) is that the best learning comes THROUGH taking action, not researching the mistakes and successes of others. So…let’s do that! We need to get started, reminding ourselves it’s only a learning experience.
You’ll Figure It Out Along The Way
Many successful businesses and entrepreneurs end up doing something considerably different from what they set out to do. (Consider Groupon starting as a social philanthropy project or Facebook as a way to rate hot chicks at your college. Check this out to see pictures of the rooms and garages that started it off for many of the top internet companies today.) It’s only by actually getting started that you’re able to figure out where you can best create value and get paid for it. Trust your instincts, get started today, and don’t be afraid to head down the rabbit hole…you might be surprised where it leads you!
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