The Best Strategy for Overcoming Analysis Paralysis
What is analysis paralysis?
“An ounce of action is worth a ton of theory” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
When preparing for a new undertaking in the Information Age, many of us spend hours and hours searching throughout the binary cosmos that is the internet. We read countless “How To’s” from countless blogs, read mounds of testimonials from people in the same position as us, and consult every guru website for the knowledge we seek. With Google and other internet search engines, we essentially have near direct access to any specific kind of information we want. This is a good thing.
As my high school geography teacher (and apparently the Book of Proverbs 25:16) use to say: “Too much of a good thing will make you throw up”. The easy access to the sheer insane amounts of data on the internet can quite easily lead to information overload, which can manifest itself in what is called in psychology as analysis paralysis. Analysis paralysis is what happens when a person cannot make a decision because they continually over-analyze their options. This is exemplified when pertaining to subjects that have no clear, black-and-white, absolute truths. What, in this life, could possibly have clear, black-and-white, absolute truths? Certainly not nutrition.
Surprised? Don’t be.
Fifty Shades of Nutrition
Nearly everything in the realm of fitness, health, and wellness is a quite relative thing. There is no one size fits all path to health or a chiseled physique. If any person or website that tells you their way is THE way, take it with a grain of salt. Chances are they are trying to sell you something.
The reason we have personal trainers and dietitians is because everyone is different. Our workout and diet plans must be tailored to our genetics, and what works for one may not work for another. Why do you think there are so many different diets, lifestyles, workout philosophies, etc?
Obviously there are some principles that are backed by studies and scientific data. We know for a fact that prolonged intake of excess refined sugars lead to weight gain and possibly diabetes. But, what is better, the Atkins or Paleo diet? Body weight exercise or weight training? High intensity interval training (HIIT) or steady state cardio? The answers to these questions will vary person to person, because the answers are relative. It depends on who is answering the question, what their goals are, what their philosophies of life are (not kidding), and so on.
Things can be further muddled when conventional wisdom tells us that eating cholesterol will raise our cholesterol levels or eating red meat is bad for your health, then next thing you know a new study comes out that tells us it isn’t true. Not only that, but there is a lot of special interest politics and lobbying that has gone into much of what our doctors (and government) recommend to us. Isn’t that just great?
Overcoming Analysis Paralysis
There are many ways to health. Eating clean and exercising are the obvious fundamental principles. Choosing how to eat clean and how to exercise, however, is a daunting task that can lead to analysis paralysis. One day you might finally be convinced to follow Diet X, and then not long after you read some convincing arguments to follow Diet Y instead. The next day you start Diet Y, and then your friend says they tried Diet Y and had a bad experience so they follow Diet Z. The frustration from the constant flip flopping might cause you to say “screw it!” and drop dieting altogether. Trust me, I’ve been there.
So, how do we know which path to choose when there are so many options? My advice: just do it and record your results. Finding the right lifestyle for sustainable health lies in experience; you have to know what works and does not work for you, and the only way of figuring that out is by doing. The reason I am confident in my own nutritional knowledge and authority is because I did that for six years. Six years I spent experimenting with my body, trying different nutrition plans, eating schedules, macronutrient breakdowns to achieve a lean slab of abs. Guess what? Now I can maintain a lean physique with the power to get shredded in less than a month, if I so choose.
Just Do It
I must be on an Emerson bender, but here are some more words of wisdom from the great American poet:
“Do the thing and you will have the power” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
I think fundamentally that much of our analysis paralysis stems from the unconscious belief that we first must acquire the ability to do something before doing it. This is true of many things in life. We look at people of success and think that they were badasses from the start. They had the power within them already.
Every successful person is a normal human being who is a doer. They don’t spend years researching potential business opportunities while complaining about their dead end corporate career. They don’t read 100 books on the same subject before taking their first step. They don’t research every minute detail of every possible diet and lifestyle plan before trying it out for a month. Instead, they do.
Success is a process, not an event. Whether it is wealth, power, a great body, or just good health, it does not just happen to someone who had some kind of magic latent power waiting to rise. Success is achieved by normal human beings who: do, fail, change something, do again, fail again, change something… repeated ad nauseum until successful. Don’t get caught up trying to find the perfect path to your goals, to the point where you cannot even start. Find a strategy, do some research, and then try it. Within a month you will know if it works or does not, at which case you can move on to the next thing. That’s the beauty of trial and error. So go out there and DO!