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Time to Start Daydreaming

What are the characteristics of a successful leader?

Most experts include characteristics such as confidence, decisiveness, and quick thinking.

No one includes overthinking.  In fact, the act of overthinking is seen as counterproductive to most of the traits exhibited by successful business leaders and entrepreneurs.


In light of the world events over the past several years, it’s hard not to find yourself chronically overthinking.

We worry about our health and our loved ones’ health, just like we worry about our businesses and what the future holds. As a result, we can easily slide down the slippery slope of deliberating ourselves into a better situation.

As a clinical psychologist, Helen Odessky writes,

“So often people confuse overthinking with problem-solving. But what ends up happening is we just sort of go in a loop,” “We’re not really solving a problem.”

Problems with Overthinking

  1. Threatens effective leadership. – Research from Stanford Business School found that over-deliberating, especially over simple decisions, can cause others to evaluate you negatively. As they explained: “In general, people seem to be less drawn to and less open to being influenced by individuals who overthink small decisions or ‘underthink’ big ones.”
  2. Dampens creativity. – researchers have found that we’re actually better at creative problem solving when we allow certain parts of our brains to rest.
  3. Makes us unhappy. – Harvard psychologists report that we spend half our time lost in thought about something outside our immediate surroundings. They write, “A human mind is a wandering mind, and a wandering mind is an unhappy mind.” That’s why, they explain, so many philosophical and religious traditions emphasize living in the present.

How to Stop Overthinking

  • Reopen the door only when new information knocks. Overthinking goes into overdrive when we keep revisiting decisions we make, refusing to close the door on a call that has been made. Instead, believe that you’ve done your due diligence and revisit something you’ve already decided only when you’re presented with new information.
  • Know that overthinking and problem-solving isn’t the same thing. Constantly ruminating and going over scenarios and possibilities often disguises itself as problem-solving. It feels like you’re doing something good and useful. But you’re not; you’re just spinning in a circle.
  • Assume good intent. Overthinkers read too much into things. They’re assuming something evil lies underneath, something like a wrong perception, someone wishing them ill, or an unfavorable outcome.
  • Embrace informed ignorance. News flash—you can’t read the future, you can’t read minds, and you can’t know everything. So don’t try.
  • Embrace uncertainty. When we don’t know something, we tend to fill in the blanks, often with garbage assumptions. Why? Many of us would rather be unhappy than uncertain. Garbage assumptions can take many forms, all infusing themselves into the inner monologue of the overthinker.
  • Evaluate the true impact of being wrong. We often feel the need to overthink because we simply fear being wrong. Ask yourself in such moments what the realistic cost of being wrong is. When you can lower the stakes, you raise your ability to get mentally unstuck.
  • Get outside and play. By this, I mean stop spending so much time in your head. Get outside it and switch gears to connect with what’s going on around you so you can take joy in it. It can be dark and foreboding inside that head of yours, no?

The Bible

We are overthinking when thoughts about problems, relational issues, and even plans dominate our waking hours. Everyone overthinks occasionally. When we are excited, afraid, worried, or elated, we tend to ruminate on conversations or actions we either participated in or wish we had.

Psalm 94:19 says,

“When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your consolations delight my soul.”

Many of the psalms were written by overthinkers facing danger, emotional unrest, fear, or despair. They boldly wrote out their anxious thoughts and then turned them into the worship of God.

The key to stopping overthinking is to think about something else.

When constantly worrying about a certain issue, we need to change directions and start daydreaming.  We need to start thinking about something positive, enlightening, and the opposite of what is worrying us.

Of course, that is often easier said than done.

But the writers of the psalms (and the rest of the Bible, for that matter) have provided something for us to focus on that takes our mind away.  It is found in the Bible.

Recognize when you are overthinking.  And then start daydreaming and let God “delight” your soul so you can re-focus on the business at hand.