It’s happened to me a million times before. That feeling of being trapped. It usually happens when I’m being forced to make important decisions in life. For others, it’s the stress of relationships or not being appreciated enough at work. School was also a major trigger for me as I was always trying to do more and usually ended up feeling like I was not good enough in many areas.
Humans are highly complex and analytical. We tend to overthink every little thing and expound it into a massive issue to satisfy our fears. We often spend so much time thinking about the endless list of possible outcomes of a particular situation that we forget to appreciate the good around us. To stop thinking this way would be nearly impossible as analyzing situations bring us a certain sense of calm which is usually short-lived.
However, there’s a simple secret to avoid the trap of over planning and indecision. I can’t tell you to stop thinking this way as that would be quite the task. Instead, I will show you a quick but effective escape route from the trapped feeling you keep experiencing.
1. Try to Discard Indecision
Indecisive people are really hard to deal with as they always appear confused without a clear sense of what they want. Making a decision and getting through with it will make you feel liberated and give you total control of your life. Make a conscious decision to do something today and begin to plan towards it, this is the first step to getting rid of that trapped feeling that is hovering over you.
2. Don’t Get Stuck on Planning
Imagine you decided to bake a cake. You choose what type of cake and select the perfect recipe. You go grocery shopping and get all the required ingredients and supplies but you never actually bake the cake. The planning stage was exciting and you acted on it, but it is very useless without execution and all you end up with is a kitchen full of cake ingredients and no cake. This is what most humans face, the constant planning without execution and the more plans you make, the more you get sucked into the tunnel of indecision and ineffectiveness.
3. Begin the Execution Process
Whenever I feel stuck in the execution process of a particular plan, I always tell myself “Just Do It”. These three words have helped me escape many situations where I felt trapped and they enabled me to make conscious moves towards my plans. Making decisions and planning without execution is basically time wasting and usually lead to a total waste of time and resources (remember the cake scenario). Sure, you can create a general plan or blueprint of what you need to do. Planning is fine. But unless you execute, that’s all you’ll end up with… plans.
4. Don’t Be Afraid of Failure
The stress from dwelling on possible mistakes and failures can paralyze us, leaving us stuck and not able to take the next step toward our dreams. Of course, planning is just an instinctive reaction to prevent us from doing something stupid. But what gets us trapped is when we create failure-motivated scenarios in our minds and create mental lists of “what-if” situations which might actually never come to reality.
The stress from dwelling on would-be failures will make you afraid of taking risks and being spontaneous with our plans which might lead to very mediocre results. Imagine Michael Jordan not taking the last shot and instead letting the clock run out because he was too busy thinking about all the negative things that could happen if he missed.
For some reason, it has become more and more unacceptable to fail. What do I mean by failure? Perhaps it could mean different things to different people. I’m not talking about failures that you can’t come back from (which I feel are very rare, to begin with). I mean being constantly stressed over possible mistakes which should really be seen as motivation and learning opportunities rather than unforgivable failures.
The reason why I believe unsalvageable failures are very rare is that these failures occur only when you decide to accept defeat and stop trying. This way, you have already decided your fate and you are comfortable with the setback you are currently experiencing. But if you don’t quit, “failure” becomes just another learning experience; Or as Jordan would put it, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”
5. Don’t Forget the Small Things
You’re probably thinking, this is easier said than done. Sometimes you might be void of ideas and very confused about what decision to make. Whenever you feel this way, you should take a break, take ample time to re-evaluate yourself, go back to the places that gave you the most inspiration and do something fun to take your mind off the stress. As much as you want to accomplish a lot, you have to remember that sometimes you just need to unwind and recharge.
For more practical tips, you can listen to your favorite song while doing a quick workout, clean your room, go on a run, talk to an old friend, or something as simple as making your bed. Most of these can be done without much planning. The most important thing is that you decided to do something and you went through with it. If there’s anything I’ve learned about being stuck in the decision-making process, it’s that it is compounding and highly contagious. So one decision made and successfully executed definitely leads to more success stories.
In conclusion, my engineering teacher often said: “The process of decision making involves making actual decisions.” All the planning in the world will get you nowhere without execution. Also, since there are many external factors you can’t consider, even the best plan might never go exactly how you’d expect. So instead of trying to figure out everything, focus only on executing the very next step and you will soon forget about the trapped feeling you once had.