15 – Do you overthink everything?
Startist Society Overthinking

In this episode, Nikki and Laura talk about the impact of overthinking on your business and your life. From analysis paralysis to fear of making the wrong choice, you’ll hear what they tend to overthink and recommendations for getting out of the overthinking cycle!

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Topics discussed

  • Analysis paralysis (1:36)
  • Maximizers vs. satisfizers (2:00)
  • Nikki and Laura share what they overthink and their shared love of research and learning (2:53)
  • Pros and cons of overthinking (5:14)
  • Taking action (6:07)
  • What’s the worst that could happen if you make the wrong choice? (9:30)
  • Making decisions (11:31)
  • Trusting your gut (12:04)

Artists & Resources Mentioned

Laura

0:07
Hi, this is Laura.

Nikki

0:08
And this is Nikki with the Startist Society, inspiring you to stop getting in your own way and start building an art biz and life that you love.

Laura

0:17
We are artists who believe strongly in the power of community, accountability, following your intuition, taking small actionable steps and breaking down the barriers of fear and procrastination that keep you stuck.

Nikki

0:31
Follow along with us on our creative business journey as we encourage you on yours.

Nikki

0:38
So, Laura, what are we talking about today?

Laura

0:41
Today, we’re talking about the impact of overthinking on your freakin’ business and your life.

Nikki

0:47
And how much overthinking did we do before settling on this topic?

Laura

0:51
Um, a lot.

Nikki

0:52
A lot. So we spoke previously about whether you had to go to art school, but I think we both have degrees in overthinking.

Laura

1:01
I have a Masters.

Nikki

1:02
Yeah, I just have a Bachelors, I bow down to your superior overthinking skills. Alright, so tell us what you overthink.

Laura

1:12
Pretty much stinkin’ everything. I have a tendency to want to have my eyes dotted and my Ts crossed. And I’m not comfortable putting anything out in the world that in my own head appears to be kind of half-assed. And I have a lot of fear in my own head around decision making, and making the right decisions and avoiding pain down the road of making and acting on a wrong decision.

Nikki

1:36
Yeah.

Laura

1:36
So when it comes to decision making, I just get analysis paralysis. But there, there’s always going to be more choices. There’s always going to be new tools, new teaching platforms, you’re never going to pick the perfect best one. So it kind of goes back to that Paradox of Choice book. And that book is a real kind of dry, scientific book. But there’s a few things in it that I found really interesting. And one of those was when he talks about maximizers versus satisfizers. I don’t know where he came up with these names. But a satisfizer basically picks the best thing they can in that moment, and then they’re happy with that choice. And they move forward with it. A maximizer basically agonizes over the choices. And even after they pick something, they question their choice.

Nikki

2:28
Oh my god, I am such a maximizer. Alright, so give us an example.

Laura

2:34
Alright, so for me, it’s choosing a teaching platform, right? There’s Teachable, Skillshare, Udemy, Kajabi, New Zenler, WordPress plugins like LearnDash, LifterLMS, Sensei, Thinkific

Nikki

2:48
You mean over-thinkific?

Laura

2:53
You know, each of them have things that are good and bad. And you find the best one and you think you’re making a decision and you look at it and the cost is too high, or you keep going back and forth. And then eventually you just don’t make a decision. So, I’m making a decision to start off with Skillshare. And I think it’s a great place to put classes out there and to be seen when you’re starting out because they have their own built in audience and platform. But you aren’t going to make much money per student on Skillshare. It’s really great for exposure, but that can be you know, the challenge with that particular one. So I’m planning in the future to use Teachable and it may not be right. And I might change my mind.

Nikki

3:34
I mean, let’s face it, you probably will.

Laura

3:39
But what I’m learning is you just have to choose and move on. And that’s the only way you can be a startist, you basically have to realize that you can always change it later. My brain doesn’t want to believe that but you absolutely can.

Nikki

3:53
So I do the exact same thing but with project management systems.

Laura

3:57
Of course you do.

Nikki

3:58
Of course I do. So we talked earlier in a previous episode about me choosing ClickUp after trying Trello, Asana, Todoist, TeuxDeux and probably 100 more, and after getting you to agree to use ClickUp for the podcast. I’m now working on switching to Notion. But this overthinking is actually just another really brilliant way of procrastinating just getting started.

Laura

4:26
Well, and I think that’s how we also approached the podcast. We had a ton of choices of where to host it, what to use to record and you know, maybe there’s one new thing that’s awesome. We felt like we should use that but then maybe now it’s too new so it’s not established enough. So we just had to stop and choose. Right? And not let ourselves get caught up in avoid making a decision. So we did some research. We made a choice that works for us right now.

Nikki

4:56
Let’s face it, you did the research because again, I bow down to you on all things audio.

Laura

5:03
Okay, so I did a lot of research. And then, you know, we didn’t stay paralyzed in the decision, we could have agonized over those decisions and never have launched this podcast.

Nikki

5:14
So obviously we keep doing this for a reason, or multiple reasons we can overthink. But let’s talk about if there are pros and cons about this overthinking. I mean, I think the cons are obvious, it keeps us from making decisions and moving forward. It keeps us procrastinating. But Laura, do you think there are any pros to overthinking?

Laura

5:34
Well, I think number one, it allows us to stay in our comfort zone. And that’s a place that we like to live in. Because it feels safe. We like safe and familiar. We don’t have to feel vulnerable, we don’t have to feel exposed. And so that’s one thing that we get juice out of, and the other thing it can do that can be useful. It’s okay to overthink at the beginning, when you initially research, but then you basically have to stop at some point. Yeah, so for example, I could teach an entire class about teaching platforms.

Nikki

6:06
And maybe you should.

Laura

6:07
Maybe I should, because I was so curious and interested in finding the best one, I have all this research. But having all that research can be a good thing, because at some point, you now have to take action on it. And so really, it is being okay with taking imperfect action, right. And so maybe it’s substituting the overthinking behavior with curiosity, you know, maybe give yourself a timeframe, I have three days to do all of this research, then I have to make a decision after the end of those three days and dedicate myself to the decision I’ve made and not feel guilty about sticking with that for a while.

Nikki

6:44
Totally. And for me, I spent a lot of time trying out and finding just the right WordPress plugin to do this one specific thing on my clients’ websites. And I can also get totally stuck in that research cycle. But in the end, hopefully, I find really great tools that I can use to get results for my clients and save them having to figure out a lot for themselves. And hopefully, you know, after doing all this research, I find a tool that I can use across many clients websites, so I get something useful out of all that research that I spent.

Laura

7:16
Right, it ends up paying off for you in the end.

Nikki

7:18
Yeah, but but also, I know that you and I just really love learning new things, exploring tools and ideas we’re interested in. So it can be a lot of fun for us. But we have to just limit that, like you said, so we can actually get something accomplished.

Laura

7:35
Hey, I’m still trying to figure out how I can get paid to be a student full time.

Nikki

7:38
Oh, my gosh, same, same, same. Although I was just thinking this morning that I need to figure out how to get paid to just draw and read all day. Let’s overthink that one. Okay, so you mentioned setting a time limit for yourself to allow some time for research, but to actually then get things done, but what other things can we do to get out of that overthinking spiral?

Laura

8:04
Honestly, I think it’s literally taking action. And it doesn’t have to be the thing that you’re overthinking, just choose one small action and take it. And that’s the only way you’re going to make progress on anything. Sometimes it’s also good to do that in a community. So for example, I’m working on my first Skillshare class. And actually, at the time that this is published, this may actually already be live. But I’m doing it in the Skillshare Winter Teach Challenge. Now I could overthink and plan this class forever.

Nikki

8:38
Which you totally would do if you weren’t in a group where you have to commit to a date, right?

Laura

8:43
Oh, yeah, oh, yeah, it would be months and months and months, right. But because I’m doing it with the within the confines of this challenge, I have to get it out the door by the end of the month. So I’m in a place where, luckily, at the moment, I can invest time in this. But there will be things that go out the door that I’m not 100% happy with. However, a lot of this is mindset and realizing that the things I’m not happy with 99% of the time other people won’t even notice. I mean getting out of my head a little bit and looking at it with fresh eyes, and thinking, you know, what, would someone outside of my brain get out of this course? And what will they be able to walk away with and it’ll be so much more information than what they had before. And so we kind of get stuck in this overthinking cycle, but it’s helpful to think about looking at it from another point of view. And the other thing I think that’s interesting is looking at it from a worst case scenario. So, if you chose the wrong solution, what is the absolute worst thing that could happen?

Nikki

9:47
Well, nobody’s gonna die.

Laura

9:49
Unless you’re a doctor or a nurse in a hospital or flying an airplane.

Nikki

9:52
Well, fortunately for patients and travelers everywhere, we are not doing that.

Nikki

10:00
Okay, Laura. So if you choose less than perfect teaching platform and you spend time building your classes, and it isn’t working for you. What’s the big deal? What can you do?

Laura

10:11
Well, I would have lost time and energy. And I’d have to rebuild and shift students over to a new platform. But it’s not like I’m going to ruin their experiences. I mean, if I’m moving, it’s probably because I need to move to something better. And so everyone should be happier in the end. So yeah, I guess it’s time and energy and a little bit of expense on my end, but ultimately, it should be better in the end.

Nikki

10:35
Yeah, and I’ve been in several courses or communities where the instructor has moved to a new platform in the middle of it, and it might be a small pain in the ass. But the experience ends up being better in the end. And I’ve never held it against anyone.

Laura

10:49
Yeah. And the other thing I think about as we talk about overthinking is, sometimes I see how you do one thing is how you do everything in life. So we’re talking about business, but that sort of paralyzing over analysis probably exists in your life, outside of business too. Now I might be agonizing over choosing my next car, or even something as simple as what movie am I going to watch tonight? I want to make sure that my time is well spent. Ironically, I’ve been, you know, with friends before and we’ve spent an hour trying to choose the movie that we were going to watch that night. And by the time we finally chose something, we probably could have already watched the movie.

Nikki

11:31
Oh that’s funny. So for me, I’m actually really different outside of business, I make decisions super quickly and easily in my personal life, like even really big ones, like buying and selling houses, moving to another state, even getting married.

Laura

11:47
Oh, boy.

Nikki

11:48
But that’s a story for another podcast, not one of our episodes, a totally different podcast. But it’s crazy how easy it is for me to make a personal decision, but yet not one in my business. So why is that? Dr. Laura? 

Laura

12:04
Well, my question for you is when you’re making a personal decision, that’s easy for you. Are you trusting your gut?

Nikki

12:12
100%?

Laura

12:14
Yeah, yeah. Okay, I’m a little woowoo. I know you aren’t. I’m a little woowoo. But I think, I think there is so much to be said, for trusting your intuition. And how you feel in your body, like does the thought of something, make your body say yes? Or do you kind of curl inwards? And I think my issue is that my head takes over from my heart sometimes when I’m making decisions, and I don’t always trust that gut. But I can tell you, Nikki pretty much every time I’ve not trusted my gut, I’ve regretted it later.

Nikki

12:44
That makes so much sense. But also for me, I think when it comes to business, sometimes it’s my over researching and listening to too many experts talk about the quote, right way to do things – it keeps me from using my own best ideas or intuition about how to get things done. So I go back and forth between trying to follow best practices and how other people are doing similar things and trusting my own ideas of what I want to do in my business.

Laura

13:12
I totally know what you mean. I mean, everybody wants to show you a roadmap of how they got to where they they are and rye voraciously want to take in that information and learn what other people are doing that works for them. And from each class I take, I usually get at least one or two golden nuggets. However, a lot of the people that I admire, if not all the people I admire were startists, and they basically just figured it out as they went along. So their journey and my journey won’t match and they actually shouldn’t. So your voice shouldn’t be a copy of someone else’s, and you should trust your own instincts.

Nikki

13:51
So I need to think about what it feels like to make personal decisions that are easy for me and see how I can bring that confidence into business decisions.

Laura

13:59
Well, Nikki your word of the year is courage.

Nikki

14:02
Oh, I know. So I will courageously overthink.

Laura

14:07
That is not what I meant.

Nikki

14:10
Are you sure?

Laura

14:12
So Nikki, what do you think our key takeaways are for this episode?

Nikki

14:17
All right. First of all, if you’re stuck in a cycle of overthinking just take one small action, even if it’s not on what you were specifically overthinking about.

Laura

14:27
Second, give yourself a time limit for researching something and at the end of that set time, make a choice and stick with it…for now.

Nikki

14:35
For now. And the third takeaway would be to trust your intuition when you’re making decisions. Your gut might know better than your head.

Laura

14:43
And look at it from your client or your student’s point of view. Is what you’re agonizing over really going to matter in the long run?

Nikki

14:49
Probably not.

Laura

14:50
Probably not. Now it’s your turn. Share with us what you overthink about in the Startist Society Facebook group or on Instagram and tag us @startistsociety.

Nikki

15:01
If you’ve gotten any benefit out of listening to this podcast, we’d love it if you’d subscribe, leave us a review and a five star rating. It helps us grow and reach more startists like you. Visit startistsociety.com/overthinking to learn more about the podcast and read the show notes.

Laura

15:17
Thanks for listening, and we’ll see you next week.

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