If you want to improve your life, you must set goals and make plans to achieve them. There’s a hidden danger in goal-setting, though, that most people overlook. It’s that you can get caught up in preparing and overthink everything, which only leads to being stuck.
To truly get anywhere with your goals, you must learn how to stop overthinking and get to work.
As a recovering overthinker, I know how true this can be. Just while preparing this post I overthought everything from the title to the image and more.
When I stop and realize that I’m overthinking, it hits me that none of these things matter that much in the long run.
You usually end up getting 80% of where you want to be with just 20% of the work anyway. This means that you could take just 1/5 of the time that things normally take you and get just as far in life, if not farther.
Overthinking is sinister and sneaky. It’s hard to recognize. But you have to beat it because it’s the #1 thing holding you back from your full potential.
These quotes on overthinking I’m about to share get me out of my head and into an action mindset every time I read them. I hope they’ll do the same for you.
1. “Just start.” — Nik Göke
I first heard of Medium.com in October 2017 and immediately began considering starting a blog there. The only time I’d ever written anything online was back when I was a teenager, and I was a bit embarrassed by it. This, and a lot of other thoughts, made me scared to start.
I was trapped in overthinking, and it kept me from going for this goal for almost a year. It wasn’t until the spring of 2018 that I finally tried to begin this blog that I was so excited about.
Before that though, I emailed a top writer I’d been following named Nik Göke and asked what his best advice is for beginners. His response caught me off guard:
That wasn’t all he said, but it was the only piece of advice. Everything else he said was to support this idea of stopping overthinking and just beginning.
I knew he was right, and I also knew I could trust him because of his tens of thousands of followers on Medium and millions of views of his writing all across the internet. So I got to work.
Every weekday for six months straight I wrote a post on Medium. A lot of them were terrible, especially at first. But I started getting better. Eventually, I had a few thousand followers of my own and was making a few hundred dollars per month.
The best part of it all though was that the day after Christmas that year Nik emailed me asking if I wanted to write for him. I was shocked that he’d consider hiring me, but I immediately and excitedly said yes.
It’s been almost three years since then and I’ve been working for Nik this whole time. I kept the mindset of “just begin” with everything I’ve done for him and put work over worrying every time. I grew rapidly and just recently got to take on the role of CEO of his site Four Minute Books!
All of this is proof that the idea of just starting something works. It’s significant evidence that action is greater than thinking. Which is why these two simple words will always fill my heart and mind with motivation to get up and get to work.
2. “Work is an antidote for anxiety, and ointment for sorrow, and a doorway to possibility.” — Dieter Uchtdorf
This quote comes from a talk that Dieter Uchtdorf gave to a group of men right around the 2008 financial crisis. He knew that they were struggling with the burden of finding work and making ends meet for themselves and their families.
I like this quote so much because knowing the context here reminds me that I can look to this idea whenever I feel like I’m in over my head and there’s no chance of relief.
There are three main ideas within this quote, all centering around the benefits of just getting to work:
- Work decreases anxiety.
- Work decreases sorrow.
- Work opens up opportunities.
If we keep overthinking and worrying, we’ll stay where we are, financially, physically, socially, and spiritually. We can’t change anything about our lives just by thinking alone. It always requires work.
And as soon as we start working, things get better. Our worries and sadness leave, and we get new chances to grow, earn, and learn.
These are the thoughts that fill my mind when I read this quote, which is why it’s one of the best for overcoming overthinking and moving forward no matter what’s going on.
3. “What would your life look like if you decided to go as hard as you possibly could? What if you just went for it? What if you just decided today was going to be the day that you stopped BSing yourself and went all-in on a better future?” — Ayodeji Awosika
The reason this quote is so powerful is because it’s not just any old statement, it’s filled with questions. When we ask ourselves the right questions, we open our minds to infinite possibilities that we’d never thought about before.
If I could break the inspiration in this quote down to just one idea it would be this:
Most often, overthinking comes in the form of this question but the negative. “What if I fail this test?” “What if I don’t get into the school I want?” On and on it goes, when most of these fears don’t have any grounding in reality. And the ones that do aren’t worth getting worked up over anyway.
Instead, ask yourself questions like “what if my life was awesome?” or “what if I accomplished all of my goals?” Flip the negativity around and turn it into a positive and you’ll find inspiration to stop overthinking and just get going.
Imagining a life where I just go for what I want without worrying about anything just lights me up inside. When I first heard this quote I about leapt out of my seat I was so pumped up. I got right to work and have been doing my best to work hard (and be wise about taking breaks) ever since.
Not long after hearing this one I had an opportunity to get a crazy good deal on some flights to Hawaii for my whole family. We have three kids, so doing just about anything is a lot of hard work. This is one of the biggest sources of overthinking for me, but it wasn’t this time.
I decided that I wasn’t going to take my own BS anymore. I was just going to jump and trust that I’d figure this out as I went. And that’s exactly what happened.
The trip was a lot of work, but it was also some of the most fun we’ve all had in a long time. It was a much needed break from the craziness of 2020, and it brought us all closer together.
Even more than that, it proved to me that I can stop overthinking and that when I do, awesome things happen.
4. “The antidote to overthinking isn’t more thinking—the antidote is action. You don’t think your way out of overthinking. You act your way out. You retire broken soundtracks. You replace them with new ones. You repeat those so often they become as automatic as the old ones. Those are all actions.” — Jon Acuff
When Acuff says “soundtracks” in this quote he’s referring to the idea that our thought patterns are like the soundtracks that we put on repeat.
Just like you can change a song or playlist of songs, you can also change the thoughts and groups of thoughts that you let take up space in your mind.
Think about a song that you know all the words to. One of them for me is The Scientist by Coldplay. The first time I heard it, the song just hit my soul in an amazing way that I’d never felt before. I’ve listened to it thousands of times since then because I love it so much.
The song influences me still today because I’ve kept repeating it over the years. Your thoughts are the same way, for good or for bad.
The trick is in knowing that you can choose to listen to positive mental soundtracks and kick out the bad ones. You do this in four ways:
- Identify negative soundtracks by asking if a thought is true, helpful, and kind. If it’s not, then you need to get rid of it.
- Find new soundtracks that you want to listen to and make a playlist by writing them down in a place you can see them often. Then, read them often and repeat them in your head to memorize them.
- Flip your old soundtracks upside down to get even more new ones and make it easier to get the bad ones out.
- Get objects to represent your favorite soundtracks and look at them often. I picked up a small rock on my trip to Hawaii to remind me that my life rocks when I don’t overthink things. I keep it with me all the time.
Try it out yourself and don’t give up. All the great things that have ever happened in the world came because somebody stopped overthinking and got to work.
Quit Overthinking, Just Do It!
I hope these four quotes have inspired you to stop overthinking and get working on your goals.
If they’ve helped, print them out and look at them often to get inspiration from them. I think I just might do that myself right now actually!