Many people overthink when in fact they know exactly what they are supposed to be doing.
Instead of doing it, whatever it is — that book, a podcast, losing weight, ending a relationship, starting a business or simply taking a risk you know you should be taking — we come up with excuses, scenarios of why it won’t work, why we aren’t enough, and why it’s ultimately going to fail.
As a world-class athlete, I’ve run against some of the fastest men in the world. And I know that a sure way to lose a race is to overthink. Because here’s the thing: The time you are taking to overthink is wasted energy that could be used for gaining momentum in your race. Time is something a runner always wants to cut down on to win a race. And whether you know it or not, we all are running some type of race.
You might be at the starting blocks, in the middle of the race or about to cross the finish line. It doesn’t matter your position; overthinking absorbs your time — time you can’t get back and moments that can’t be lived again. Taking action can allow you to perform better than waiting on the sidelines trying to come up with the perfect strategy that doesn’t exist.
There are three simple commands that can help you stop overthinking and win the race. You’ve heard them before: Ready, set, go!
When we are in the overthinking state, we question whether we have what it takes. So the ready command cancels out the inevitable doubting thoughts. Why? Because the command is not asking you if you are ready. It’s a matter of being aware that an opportunity is coming, and it’s alerting you to the command that follows.
It’s been said many times before: “When you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready.” Getting ready and staying ready don’t mean you have it all figured out. They are a mental check of your confidence. The way to defeat overthinking is to ask yourself one question that will remove excuses: Will you honor that gut feeling so you can be prepared for what comes next? If your answer is yes, you are ready!
The set command puts your body in a locked and loaded position. This is where you determine how you are going to take your first explosive step out of the blocks. It’s the nature of what I call unbreakable focus, which is giving your attention to one thing while all other thoughts and tasks fade into the background. When there is too much circling around in your mind, you can get lost in the details. Information overload will exhaust you before you even begin. To overcome overthinking, lock in your head that first massive action you are going to take and put everything else to the side.
Go is an instinctive response. We are designed to move. And once our body gets in motion, it stays in motion. The same is true for our actions. A body in action stays in action. At this point, it’s not about all the knowledge you consume, your intellect or your personality. It’s about your courage. Are you brave enough to go, even though the outcome is uncertain?
There is not a lot of time between ready, set and go. These are split-second decisions that move you to the next command. All of these commands don’t have separate occasions. Just like the gunman pulling the trigger — the chamber, the bullet, the kickback, the gun barrel — all work simultaneously to create an explosive action. We have the same instinctive nature.
Pull the trigger on what you already know. Channel the one action that is going to pull you to the finish line, whatever happens. Ambitious steps forward are better than overthinking.
You have the ability to feel the sensation of that ribbon grazing against your chest as you cross the finish line. You just have to listen and follow the commands ready, set, go!