Mike San Román's homepage

The best strategy against overthinking

February 03, 2020

"We are dying from overthinking. We are slowly killing ourselves by thinking about everything. Think. Think. Think. You can never trust the human mind anyway. It's a death trap."
― Anthony Hopkins.

Do you consider yourself an overthinker? How often do you become blocked by your own thoughts or emotions?

Something happens: an external event, like an urgent request or a crisis of some sort that you need to deal right now. Maybe it's a message from your boss, maybe it's hearing some bad news. It could be as well something that comes from inside: you just remembered you had to deal with a certain thing, that thing you have been postponing for so long already.

You dread it. It blocks you. You start to think of all the implications of action and inaction. And those thoughts propagate and branch out themselves. You are suddenly many steps ahead of the current situation. You are not living in the present, but rather, you are a victim of your own overthinking.

This is also one of the culprits for your procrastination. You have to do something now, and you know it's important. And yet, you fear the end result. Maybe you are not starting that podcast because you fear it will go bad. Maybe you are not starting to write that pitch for a client because you fear rejection and feeling inadequate. Or you don't reach out for help to a colleague because you feel you should know it already and fear embarrassment.

"I've had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened."
— Mark Twain.

We all have been there. You need to remember that those things are not real, they are not happening now. Your overthinking is picking out the worst-case scenarios from the whole spectrum of possibility. What would happen if you dedicated the same amount of effort to overthink something from a positive lens?

You need to write a pitch for a client. You put your best efforts into it and they love it. You get your company to sign a huge contract, and you prove how great of an asset you are for the team. They give you a raise, and everyone is happy for you because you deserve it.

What happens when you think about it this way? You might find it hard to believe. Isn't it just another possibility? You should judge it with the same amount of attention as the worst-case scenario.

It is just a possibility. That does not make it real. And for sure, it is not real now.
So focus on the now. Always do your best, and trust your future self that they would do their best as well. They will be better, wiser, versions of yourself, after all!

Thank you for reading 🙏.

The Most Important Soft Skills for Programmers


An amazing Instagram post with tips for developers by James Bedford, engineering manager at Monzo. I must say I not only fully agree on these skills as essential for developers, I think anyone needs to focus on this, and the more you have a wide area of influence, the more essential these are.

How to stay motivated when you're spread thin


I loved this post from Tobias van Schneider on his tactics and approach to keep on working on many things at the same time not only without burning out but thriving on it all. I definitely feel it relates to how I view my day-to-day and my own strategies for balancing it all. It also reminds me of the concept of procrastiworking I heard to Jessica Hische many years ago.