You try to kick someone under the table and your leg stays as inert as the table’s leg. Your toes are unwiggleable. Your eyebrow won’t arch wryly in disdain.
You want to make something happen, but that desire isn’t translating into movement. Your muscles don’t obey the signals from your brain.
Analysis is pretty much the same thing.
You analyze your business all the time. You decide that it would be smart to start an email campaign, or change the direction for your blog posts. You decide whether to run a promotion for your consulting business or launch an information product.
You’re thinking about something happening.
But you’re not making it happen.
When analysis paralysis is beneficial
It turns out that sometimes it’s good to be paralyzed.
Every night, when you go to sleep and drop deep into that REM state that lets you wake up all refreshed in the morning, you are, medically speaking, paralyzed.
This is a good thing. When you get tired, your ability to act is impaired. You’re more likely to get lost, to drive poorly, to call the ex you swore you’d never speak to again.
Get paralyzed by sleep for a couple of hours, and suddenly everything improves. When your spouse throws the car keys at you a little too hard because they haven’t forgiven you for calling your ex last night, you catch them effortlessly with catlike reflexes.
Analysis can be like this.
Sometimes we have too much going on in our businesses. It can help to take a moment to stop everything and hold completely still, moving nothing but our brains, just thinking about the problem.
We don’t have to take action yet. We don’t have to move a muscle. We just have to think about what we’ll do when we’re ready to move.
Analysis can be a refreshing pause for our brains.
It can also be a serious problem.
When analysis paralysis Is detrimental
The kind of paralysis you experience in REM state every night is good for you. You probably didn’t even know you were paralyzed.
(If you weren’t freaking out about it before, don’t start now. Whatever you do, don’t think about the xkcd comic that points out that dreaming means going comatose, hallucinating vividly, and then suffering amnesia. Adding paralysis to that list doesn’t sound so bad now, does it?)
It’s okay for your legs (and the rest of you) to be paralyzed for a couple hours a night. If it goes on for more than a day, though, you’re going to start to be pretty concerned about some of the logistics.
Analysis can be like this, too.
When you’ve taken the time to hold still and analyze your business for a couple of hours — even a full working day — before you take action, that’s perfectly healthy. It has probably improved your ability to move forward confidently and with good judgment.
If you find yourself analyzing for weeks or months at a time without moving, it’s time to be concerned.
How to cure analysis paralysis
To cure real paralysis, you generally need the sort of miracle doctor featured prominently in many a popular medical drama, but not so prominently in real-life hospitals.
To cure analysis paralysis, though, you just need to check out the recent Third Tribe seminar featuring Sonia Simone and Chris Garrett, where they talk about how to take action on that product launch you’ve been meaning to do, thinking about, analyzing, and never doing.
- The product development technique that kills paralysis, moves you to a fast launch, and creates great value for your customers
- Why “thinking big” can stop you dead in your tracks, and how to get moving again
- How to use your own “weaknesses” as strengths that move you forward
- What to do if you don’t have thick skin (and how it can work to your benefit)
- How to create products that move your customers farther and faster toward their goals.
While you’re listening, you’ll find yourself analyzing how to use these techniques in your business. You may also find yourself lulled into a soporific state of bliss, because Sonia’s voice is extremely soothing. And that’s okay.
To make sure you don’t get stuck there, though, there’s a Next Action worksheet to help you move forward. Use it. Make your business stronger through movement.
Otherwise, I’d have to explain what “atrophy” means. And no one wants that.