5 Self-Reflection Questions for Overthinkers

When should you make fast decisions?

Posted Apr 22, 2018

ESB Professional/Shutterstock
Source: ESB Professional/Shutterstock

Overthinkers tend to be too hesitant in making decisions. The truth, however, is that fast decisions can be just as likely to have good outcomes as decisions that you agonize about. 

Try these self-reflection questions to consider the benefits of faster decision making.  

1. When was the last time you made a fast decision and it turned out to be a really good one?

For example, you decided to buy an item without doing exhaustive research, and you ended up really liking it or finding it very useful.  

Or, when was the last time you quickly said "yes" to something, and on reflection were very glad you did?

2. Thinking about your favorite possessions, which were bought impulsively instead of after prolonged thinking?

This is an alternative version of the question above, but a slightly different phrasing that could prompt different thoughts.

3. What's a fast decision you made that didn't work out, but it was better to find that out sooner rather than later?

Here's a personal example: This week, I finally got around to reaching out to someone I'd considered contacting for at least a month. The person didn't reply, and in retrospect, I wish I'd tried contacting them sooner so I could have stopped thinking about it. On the bright side, I was pleased I'd done it this week, rather than thinking about reaching out to the person for another few weeks or longer.

4. What's the last success you had where you weren't certain of success in advance?

When did you last act under conditions of uncertainty, and it worked out well for you? Another personal example: I approached a high-profile author about endorsing my new book (The Healthy Mind Toolkit) with absolutely no guarantee of it working out. However, she replied and wrote me a lovely recommendation.  

The fact that you've acted without being 100 percent certain of success implies that you were able to weigh the big picture without needing a guarantee of what the outcome would be. 

5. If you weren't overthinking decisions, what would you have more time and energy for?

What would you prefer to be doing rather than overthinking or over-researching decisions? If you like contemplation, you might just prefer to be doing a different type of thinking, like about your parenting or politics, or a hobby, rather than overthinking relatively minor decisions.

     As well as thinking about these questions retrospectively, you can also make a note whenever you accumulate an additional data point that matches one of the above categories.

Isn't This a Biased Approach? Sure it is: These questions are intentionally aimed at highlighting the benefits of faster decision making for people whose natural bias is to focus on the dangers of quick decisions. The questions aim to counteract an overthinker's dominant bias. (This exercise isn't aimed at someone who is naturally impulsive.)

There's a certain irony in suggesting self-reflection questions for overthinkers. However, before an overthinker is willing to moderate their habits, they typically need to be thoroughly convinced of the benefits of doing so. Overthinkers generally like to reach a conclusion themselves rather than having one thrust upon them, and these questions will help with that.