Overcoming Overthinking for Better Decision-Making

Finding clarity and confidence in navigating life's crossroads

image created via Midjourney

Hey friends!

It has been a while. I skipped a few weeks of the newsletter because I am busy “overthinking” my future and what decision I should make.

I used to be a notoriously over-thinker, fueled with all distorted thoughts, such as catastrophic, overgeneralizing, and all-or-nothing thinking. It eventually developed into Social Anxiety Disorder, which took a toll on my mental well-being, my relationship, and my career.

If you think over-chewing your problems or future events can help you find solutions and understand the cause behind the events? Trust me, not worth it.

But congrats, if you are reading this article, you might have already noticed your overthinking behaviors, and this is a great start!

If you can name it, then you can tame it!

While professionals have retros on past events is normal, I am also pro of healthy reflection, and to improve decision-making, it is about seeking small actions to improve future situations instead of dwelling on why this happened.

Ok, so this is about the past. I want to focus more on future events, which I demonstrated in the past few weeks, thinking about all “what if… “ for the potential path I might take and then being decision-paralyzed.

You probably have been there and got through it without noticing what works in dealing with uncertainty. And next time when you go through the same phases, I will finger-cross for you to find the way out. 🤞

So what am I worried about for the last few weeks?

I got an offer overseas! Hooray! 🎉 This is what I am looking forward to in my career. But wait, something went wrong with the visa. I have no degree in design (FYI, I am a career switcher from the medical industry), so the government is unable to issue me a visa. And just like that. I got rejected in the end. It’s a bitter-sweet feeling at the beginning, sweet for being recognized by the company, bitter for not having the bare minimum degree.

Yes, I could dwell on the past and think about why I am enrolling in a medical discipline instead of something related to design. But I passed the chewing cow phase and understand that my relatively useless degree is part of who I am today. So, no blames for past MengChi.

Then things have been on top of my mind the past weeks is whether I should get a master's degree in design. Is it worth the effort since I am in the field already? And if yes, how much effort should I put in? Get a degree locally in Taiwan? or Get a degree online? Study abroad and utilize the OPT to open up endless career opportunities?

But what are the sacrifices? What about my personal life? I am still unsure if I want a baby, and I really want to have a dog this year. And 2 years of academic training without hands-on experience, which is much more valuable in job searching, do I lose the advantages and go back as a graduate student to start over in the tech industry again? And we are talking about the at least 2-year up future plans.

If you found me annoying rambling above, then mission accomplished! The exact effect I want to achieve on you. 😉

I do nothing but think over and over about the future and be indecisive, depressed, and lost. I let it happen to me because this is a big decision, and it is worth weeks of pondering, right?

Yes and no. I realized afterward that thinking is not helping me make better decisions, especially since I know nothing about other nations’ visa requirements, universities’ application requirements, or the practical aspect of how to raise a puppy or a baby?

This is the moment I mentioned above. Improving decision-making is about seeking small actions.

So instead of letting my worries drive hallucinated scenes of my future, I decided to research the questions I raised above, to get a sense of what would “possibly” happen if I do choose this path. I recognize myself using “overthinking” to hide behind fear and self-doubt. Fear of making mistakes and catastrophizing the outcome.

It becomes scary once you research those answers because making decisions becomes a natural next move.

Take a deep breath, love. You are not alone. We’ve all been standing at a crossroads, unsure of which path to take. Just remember that no one and no decision is perfect. What you can do is to stay in the present.

Do what your heart is towards, and rest will come along.

At least, this is what I believe.

Another practical tip to help you make decisions is asking for help. I use this method during my overthinking period as well. Ask your trusted friends and loved ones. I am glad to raise my concerns with my parents. I had a heartwarming conversation with my dad, which is very rare. I have 2 colleagues who supported me along my journey, regularly checking in and giving me solid advice so that I can see things from different perspectives and be creative and confident in whichever decision I make.

Time to recap.

  1. Practicing meditation or mindfulness consistently can help raise your self-awareness, which in return, you identify if you are in the spiral of overthinking.

  2. Focusing on seeking small actions to take, instead of beating yourself up or in the spiraling thoughts of “What if…”, try “What is one small thing I can do to help me navigate through?

  3. Asking for help. Get different perspectives from others. This could possibly open up more creative solutions to your problem.

So, my friend, next time you find yourself overthinking, take a deep breath and remind yourself that you have the tools to make better choices. Life is an adventure and the best choices sometimes come from embracing the unknown.

Until then, take care!❤️

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