Clear your mind of disempowering distractions
New entrepreneurs may find decision-making stressful with no one to consult with. And it’s common to feel overwhelmed with uncertainty when the success of the company hinges on the choices you make.
Here are a few practical tools for when you’re stuck in analysis paralysis, feeling disempowered or lacking confidence.
Attention residue. Every single time you look at your phone your attention is given to that notification.
You can either change the world play with your phone but you can’t do both.
Spend long stretches of time in acute focus to tap into your flow.
Tight bubble of total focus is required to get great work.
Distinguishing attentional bias
Attentional Bias: The tendency to pay attention to negative, dangerous or threatening things while simultaneously ignoring other possible outcomes.
Basically, it means we focus on worst case scenario outcomes while totally ignoring other possibilities. Attentional bias often underlies anxiety, sadness and will elevate fear levels.
Common examples of attentional bias thoughts are: “If I don’t finish this project perfectly, I’m going to be fired.”
“My co-worker called in sick on Monday. I bet they’re not really sick, they’re just ditching today.”
“I’ll get back to my normal social life as soon as I lose this weight.”
That tunnel-vision thinking is caused by attentional bias, can hurt your decision making skills and can even lead to distorted memory.
Make a habit of practicing this exercise throughout your day to bring clarity and confidence to your choices.
Step 1: Identify a troublesome thought or something you have a persistent complaint about. If nothing comes to mind right now, note any throughout the day, as you’re having them.
Start by identifying an area of your life where you’re feeling overwhelmed with emotion, like you’re failing, in over your head or having a hard time seeing the big picture.
This could be a new business venture, your identity, your health goals, a friendship, romantic relationships, family, anything.
Now, let’s break it down…
What is the situation?
What thoughts are associated with this situation?
What emotions are you feeling about the situation?
Choose one of your thoughts, then move on to step 2.
Step 2. Gather Evidence in Favor (Part 1)
“Much like a judge overseeing a trial, the next step is to remove yourself from the emotionality of the upsetting event or episode of irrational thinking in order to examine the evidence more objectively,” explains John M. Grohol, Psy.D. “A thorough examination of an experience allows you to identify the basis for your distorted thoughts.”
Now, what evidence do you have in support of this thought?
Even if you know this evidence isn’t “true,” there are things you are telling yourself or information you are trying to use to convince yourself it is.
Chances are you’re making interpretations and assumptions to support your evidence.
What are the assumptions that you are making or would need to make to believe your thought?
Step 2. Gather Evidence Against (Part 2)
With these assumptions in mind, think about the information you know or can find to prove your thought wrong. What evidence do you have AGAINST your thought? For example, if you’re overly self-critical, identify experiences and situations where you’ve had success.
Step 3. Check the facts
It’s time to look at the facts. Ask yourself what evidence is really true, and what is just your opinion?
For example, statements such as “I’m selfish” and “There’s something wrong with me” are opinions. “My co-worker spoke in angry voice toward me” and “I forgot to take out the trash” are facts.
Hint: Oftentimes, people will find that the evidence against their thought is more reliable (hence why it may be a thought distortion). Other times, people find that no evidence is reliable.
What evidence is fact (either in support of or against your thought)?
Step 4. Draw a conclusion & take action
Once you’ve checked the facts, it’s time to decide if your thought is true (just a thought) or false (a thought distortion, aka stinkin’ thinkin’), and then take action accordingly
Is it your thought true?
Then it’s just a thought!
This is an opportunity to practice coping with the emotions you feel related to your thoughts. What healthy coping skills can you use?
False (it’s a thought DISTORTION).
If your thought is indeed a distortion, this is a good opportunity to practice using counter-thoughts to change your thoughts, and in turn, your emotions. What counter-thoughts can you come up with?
The goal of this skill is to take a step back and gain perspective when your emotions are high as a way to bring them down a notch and to help you make better decisions.
So when should you use it?
Checking the facts between thoughts and actions in your behavior chain can slow yourself down and make sure your actions align with the situation itself — not your irrational, emotional interpretation of the situation.
Here Comes a Thought
Steven Universe is one of my all time FAVORITE shows. I’m a huge fan. When you find yourself stuck in your head, remember this song.