On Overthinking

Fall is just starting to paint the treetops here in Nashville, and it’s got me (somewhat ironically) thinking about overthinking. Autumn is one of my favorite seasons to ponder–it’s a perfect in-between. The trees are on fire with colors halfway between life and death, the weather is a perfect balance between hot and cold, and the pace of life is halfway between the relaxation of summer and the busyness of the holiday season.

Delightful thinking weather.

Delightful thinking weather.

I recently participated in a little something called CreateAthon at the ad agency where I work. Essentially, we dedicated 24+ hours to doing as much pro-bono work for a non-profit as we could fit into the evening. I had the immense joy of working with an organization called the McNeilly Center, and we were able to help define their brand and put together a variety of materials and resources for them.

Here’s the thing–to create a solid concept and body of work in 24 hours, you don’t get the luxury of processing through an idea extensively. Decisions have to be made quickly, you go with your gut, and there’s minimal time for revisions. As terrifying as that can be, there’s also something freeing and delightful about throwing out ideas and running full speed with them. There simply isn’t time for overthinking.

In Malcolm Gladwell’s book Blink, he touches on the idea of analysis paralysis. It’s the notion that you can over-analyze a choice to the point that you’re no longer capable of making a decision. I do this all the time. While I love examining every aspect, outcome, and tangent of a choice, sometimes it’s also overwhelming and a rather stress-inducing process.

Thus, in this season of pondering, why not think a little less and go with the gut a bit more? I don’t think I’m an advocate for speeding through every decision, but every now and then, a dose of spontaneity is good for the soul. e.e. cummings states it well:

“Once we believe in ourselves we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight or any experience that reveals the human spirit.”

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