How to get past analysis paralysis and actually DO SOMETHING!

In this article (and video ↓↓↓) we teach you how to get past analysis paralysis. Make a change in your life, be it travel, a career, or starting a venture with these 3 easy simple steps!

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By Grace Koelma | Dare List Mama

People are often telling us "I don't know how you did that!"

By 'it', they mean the fact we took a big leap - we packed up everything, rented out our house and took our 2-year-old on a one-way trip of a lifetime around the world.

We struggled with how to get past analysis paralysis for months and months, going around in circles and always ended up back in the same spot... with no answers and no actionable plans to carry us forward. It was very frustrating, particularly for Eric, stuck in an unfulfilling job and only seeing daylight for an hour a day.

But it doesn't have to be that hard.

If you want to make a change in your life, be it related to travel, or a new career, relationship, moving to a new city or starting a venture, here are 3 ACTIONS you can take RIGHT NOW to help you take the leap!

1. Write it down

Thoughts and ideas can be very abstract and theoretical when they're floating (or zooming!) around there up in your head. Because our words are so powerful, it's important to harness this power by getting thoughts OUT THERE in the open and seeing how they look.

If you're feeling overwhelmed by all the options on the table and don't know where to start, just write it down.

It could be a list, a mind-map, a picture or diagram or just freeform writing. Don't worry about spelling, grammar or neatness. Don't be tempted to arrange and colour code (if you're like me! 😉 ). 

Just write down your plan - on a napkin if need be - and put it somewhere you can see it daily. We love using whiteboard markers to write on the mirror!

Notebook on desk

2. Do the 7-day challenge

Give yourself a little bit of a challenge to get the engines of action fired up. We found that daring ourselves to take a small action on day one worked. It set the wheels in motion for a bunch of knock-on actions and decision-making. 

Within just three weeks we'd sold most of our stuff, found a renter and moved out. It can happen fast once you start!​

Identify the lynch pin

First we needed to identify the major ​thing holding us back from being able to achieve the big dream - full-time travel. Often this is the lynch pin - the glue that keeps your tenuous balance of life intact. 

Like most families, the main weekly expense was our house - our lynch pin. Our mortgage was simply too much of a financial burden. The logical choice was to rent it out so we didn't have to cover that expense. Once we didn't have a mortgage to pay, Eric would be free to quit his job and work on our businesses.

On day one, we made a call to a real estate agent, and the rest is (well-documented) history.

Side note: Make sure you've got a plan for accommodation before you rent out your house. In our case, both sets of our parents kindly offered for us to live with them.

Is the timing 'right'?

We often obsess over whether or not the timing is 'right' before we make a decision. It's a way for looking for assurance and security in a decision where we can't possibly know a definite outcome.

Instead of looking for signs that it's the right time, I tend to look at what is NOT happening. In other words, I look for the wrong timing, and if I don't find it, I go ahead (maybe I do this because I'm a realist). 

The timing could* be wrong if: you'v​e just had a big life change, eg. got pregnant, had someone close to you pass away, come out of a serious relationship, been in hospital, been fired, been in an accident or natural disaster, or are in serious debt. 

*Obviously, each situation is unique. For instance, a big life change can be a great thing if you've just been through a break-up, so we're not here to give you advice on timing. You be the judge!​

How the 7-day challenge works

(Tweak these suggestions depending on your unique situation).

  • DAY ONE: Do you know a real estate agent? If you don't, Google it and (to make things easy for yourself if you're an over-thinker!), call the first result on the list.
  • DAY THREE: Make a few other email or phone enquiries to other real estate agents, or meet up with the first agent to discuss your options. (We recommend meeting with at least 3 agents before you list, because agencies have a focus on either selling or renting. We bought our house with Agent ABC - the No. 1 seller in the suburb, and rented it out with the Agent XYZ - which had won awards for rental customer service.)
  • DAY SEVEN: Hopefully you've been able to meet with a few agents by now and should have a clearer idea of who you want to list with. Maybe you'll prefer to sell your home. Whatever you decide, keep the momentum going, and list the home online as soon as you can! You can always pull the plug, but you have to start somewhere. So take a deep breath...

Remember, sometimes analysis paralysis is simply having too much choice.

Once you choose one thing, there are less options on the table and it becomes easier to choose.

For example, we had conversations back and forth about what kind of rent we might be able to get, and couldn't estimate the financial viability of it. But once we had an estimate from a few agents, the picture was clearer and then we could plan with actual concrete numbers.

Stop asking yourself the 'what ifs'. Get some real answers (or at least ask someone who can accurately estimate). Otherwise, the only thing you'll know for sure is the regret you feel years down the track that you didn't take action.

3. Look forward and look back

"Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards." Søren Kierkegaard

Ain't perspective grand? We find that if all else fails, a good dose of perspective is what we need to kick us up the butt. 

How to get perspective FAST

  • LOOK FORWARD: Imagine what your ideal future looks like. What situation, scenario or picture do you regularly daydream of? In my case, I dreamed of exploring the West Coast of America in a campervan. Perhaps it's an exotic location or a busy European city for you? Whatever it is, create a Pinterest board or stick postcards and photos to something you look at a lot - your fridge door, mirror or desk.

    As clichéd as it sounds, putting your dreams top of mind so you see them everyday WORKS!
travel postcards and pinterest
  • LOOK BACK: For looking forward to be effective, you also need to look back. Looking back is a fairly sobering reminder of how little has changed since [x date]. Life's monotony can lull us into a false very real sense of comfort. And it can be startling to realise that it's been two, three, four years since we first decided we wanted to do 'That Thing'.

Stop saying "Where did the time go?" and start making sure you have something to remember the next time you look back.

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Time for you to take action!

The tips we've mentioned here are just the beginning, but don't stress, there's good news!

Routine is deadly - it has a way of turning us into the equivalent of a 4,000 tonne steam train rusted to the railway tracks (my son is obsessed with trains right now, hence the train metaphor - trains on the brain!). 

The good news is that once you stoke the coals in the boiler and get the train moving (that's YOU if you're following this metaphor!), the wheels start creaking over. The train slowly gathers some epic momentum.

And once you've got momentum, NOTHING will stop you from getting to where you want to be! 

All the best with your journey, exciting times are ahead! 

A quick recap of THREE things you can do THIS WEEK:

  • Write down your goal and look at it everyday
  • Take clear action today, in 3 days and in 1 week
  • Get some perspective by looking forward and looking back

Were these tips helpful for your planning? Do you feel like you now know how to get past analysis paralysis? We'd love to know how you go, comment below or email us.

Grace Koelma

Grace is a writer, designer, digital nomad, mum (otherwise known as toddler chaser), slow traveller, wild things appreciator, culture immerser, coffee opportunist... She frequently uses big words (some of which are definitely made up), likes long walks and even longer books, and her focus on wellness in 2017 means she is learning to obey her FitBit. Except when she's glued to her computer!

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