It was 11 pm on a Friday night after a long week, and I had finally gotten my latest startup client to file their business documentation. I knew it was a win for both of us, while she wasn’t so sure of her business or anything else. For over 6 months we’d had this on our work plan because she wanted to “wait until the time was right.” The night she filed she had lost her job, gotten bad news about a family member, and had total chaos at home. It wasn’t the perfect time, it was the least difficult thing on her to-do list. She did it out of presumed safety (fear). And while part of me smiled in the face of victory, the other cringed at the sight of an old enemy. Analysis paralysis haunted me for years until I battled it head-on.
We have many ways to work through our fears and the paralysis of failure. The most important part of all of this is not to give in to the feeling to stay where we are-to push ourselves to become who we desire and achieve what we set as goals.
Analysis paralysis is the act of over processing or continually analyzing something until so much time passes the opportunity is lost, or the goal is never fully accomplished. We create little reasonings, facts, and other thought processes as explanations of why we don’t do what we intend; we build traps around our goals, dreams, and desires based on our mindsets. It is often a behavioral response to emotional elements caused by Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome. These factors are woven into almost every decision we make. Most of us can easily identify them, but may not necessarily make the connection that they contribute to, or can develop into analysis paralysis.
- Fear & Failure ANTS (automatic negative thought systems)
- Discomfort with the extreme unknown
- Cultural Identity
- Personal Identity
Some individuals struggle with the idea of succeeding at all; others are intimidated by the prospect of acquiring success or a lifestyle beyond what seems familiar or reasonable to their identity. Some never recuperate from the feeling of failure. For Black people, that emotion is coupled with a rooted feeling of being skeptical about everything, including ourselves. The automatic negative thought systems (ANTS) that all people experience are louder, stronger, and more resilient in our minds due to generational conditioning. We often subconsciously grapple with the unknown. It has been instilled in us to be leery of change. On top of all this, establishing cultural and personal identity can be arduous and confusing, particularly for men and women of color. The misguidance and miseducation about these development processes can make it strenuous to succeed or achieve our goals at a high level. Intention and reflection are two of the ways we can convert these trap houses into spaces where we actually get things done.
- Fear Tactics: Creating a mindset to attack fear as opposed to accommodating it, by progressively facing trepidations head-on. This resets/retrains your brain to engage new experiences so that as you approach intervals of decision-making or opportunity you will move strategically and critically.
- Killing Comfort Zones: Developing the skill of avoiding complacency; create a growth mindset to stimulate the cultivation of new ideas, excitement for new experiences, and nurture an open-canvas lifestyle that invites growth and change.
- Journaling / Reflecting: Fostering self-discovery and personal growth using writing, and stillness to develop a healthier, stronger sense of self and to sustain a working alignment with your aspirations.
- Mentorship / Accountability Partners: Pairing with experienced mentors for support, guidance, and safe processing of reflective or mindset work; having the opportunity to get professional insight on needs/actions; in-the-moment support for your goals.
- Extreme Ownership: Developing the act of persistent and aggressive accountability in all situations. This allows one to harness the internal power required to be driven towards what is advantageous even when it is unfamiliar.
We have many ways to work through our fears and the paralysis of failure. The most important part of all of this is not to give in to the feeling to stay where we are-to push ourselves to become who we desire and achieve what we set as goals. Much of what we want is on the other side of the procrastination that holds our dreams hostage. The pursuit of happiness and quality of life looms over the minds of many Black people. We can have the things we imagine if we are able to cultivate opportunities and environments that generate those results. The innovations, healthy risks, insights, and discoveries we’re harboring become unlocked as we work through the need to be perfect, safe, and well-put-together. We are more than okay to attempt new things and fail. It is actually what makes us better. Every investment we make in ourselves converts the trap houses in our minds to safe houses for our futures. We just have to do the work.