Are you ready for the topic of the week in our Creativity Series? This one hits close to home, in fact this was the most challenging post of the series for me to write — just thinking about the topic gave me deer in the headlights syndrome. Have you ever heard of analysis paralysis? This is what we’ll be discussing today, it’s a good one since lots of us struggle with it. Let’s talk about what analysis paralysis is and why it’s the quickest way to pour cold water all over that creative spark of yours.
First, what is analysis paralysis? Well it’s not some catchy word from Dr. Phil. It’s a condition that many suffer from but thankfully can be treated. Here’s the Wiktionary definition, “Analysis Paralysis– The condition of being unable to make a decision due to the availability of too much information which must be processed in order for the decision to be made.” In other words, omg too much information!!! You can’t make progress because you are brainstorming, researching, talking about, fine tuning, studying, and forum posting the life out of your idea. In the end you don’t do it. Sound familiar? Perhaps it’s a cop out, a cover, a mask because the more you are learning you can justify to yourself (and your friends) why you haven’t actually done it yet. Hmmm. Let’s illustrate.
Example: You want to sell your handmade scary monster dolls online.
Positive and practical next step: Spend a reasonable amount of time researching websites, pricing, competition, etc. Set priorities, carve out a plan, take it one step at a time. You may decide to open a small shop on a site like Etsy, Folksy, Dawanda, 1000 markets, etc. to see how you do and grow from there. Think about what you must do in order to get started, list your priorities first and stick to those action items. I find it best to work on the must do list and save the future maybes list for after you get started. Some find that lots of research, work, etc. is better conducted after the idea is launched.
The Analysis Paralysis way: Spend an unreasonable amount of time researching websites, pricing, competition, etc. Look at competitors thinking their work is somehow better. Explore every single website ever invented on planet earth to see where work should be sold. Then explore Mars. And maybe the Moon too. Next, proceed to get all stressed out over the potential that the idea could be stolen once it’s online. Worry that no one will like you. Worry that some kid may swallow your doll and die, you will get sued, and your life will be ruined. Read tons of books, blogs and websites on how to launch a small business online. Start thinking that maybe you should also sell your t-shirts and gocco prints. Start researching gocco paint and where you can purchase it for the best price. Spend more weeks on that. Then realize you really only want to sell your dolls. End result: months and months spent over analyzing everything and in the end, you still have no idea what website you want to go with to sell your dolls. Or worse, you see dolls much like yours in a brand new web shop that people are literally going bonkers over, they can’t keep ’em stocked, and you think you are a total loser for sitting on the idea for so long. You’re not a loser, you are just giving something that doesn’t require so much legwork way to much time to cook. Newsflash! You may be over cooking your idea.
I have this crazy expression that I use when I’m deep frying the life out of an idea. Stop drop and roll with it.
Have you stopped the flow of ideas before you were able to get started by over-analyzing everything? While it is a proven fact that creativity comes more naturally for some than others, I whole-heartedly believe that if you pursue your creative side and just GET STARTED then remain consistent, determined, and positive, you can find greater joy, increased self-worth, and success in your ideas.
You don’t need to learn everything before you start something. If you want to start selling your art prints, open a shop on a site like Etsy.com for instance and start putting your work there and build. Take a few business courses or talk to friends who have experience to share. Drop over-thinking every minutiae.
Here’s the exercise for this week. Grab some paper if you’d like or comment below.
1) List a few things that in the past you have over analyzed to the point of either a) Not following through on the idea or b) information overload stressed you out so much that the finished product wasn’t nearly as good as it could have been had you not over analyzed things.
2) List a few things that you want to do going forward that you see yourself already over thinking to the point of becoming uninspired. Maybe it is a bedroom that you need to decorate? An interest in taking up crochet? What is the real reason behind not actually DOING it?
3) Review your list and decide for yourself that you will no longer charbroil your ideas. Believe in the fact that you are worthy of selling those scary monster dolls online, that you will make mistakes along the way and that’s fine (all successful people have and continue to make mistakes), you will deal with copycats and jerks online, you will have some unhappy customers, but know that you are worthy enough to have success, money, honor, even a loyal following of fans… and that the bad is worth the good. And just DO it. Take the first step and then think about the second one.
Think all successful businesses are born from an elaborate business plan? Read my first post on decor8 in January 9, 2006. Does THAT sound like a girl with much of a plan?
(image by holly becker for decor8)