What Should I Do? Confessions from an Overthinker


If I had a dollar for every time a question or second thought occurred to me, I would assuredly be a billionaire! Overthinking next steps or actions is an all-too-familiar pattern for me and without realizing it, I will consider if it’s the right time to do just about anything!

Call it procrastination, overthinking, or perfectionism, this habit has been with me for a long time. Consider thisreplay of a recent conversation in my brain:

Myself: I’m wondering if I should try that weight loss medicine?

Other Self: Oh, I don’t think it is a good idea.

Myself: Yes, I did read about the side effects. And after all, I did lose 10 pounds during the pandemic. Maybe I can just do it on my own?

Other Self: Yes, you can do it on your own.

Myself: Oh really? Losing 10 pounds over the last year, when I’m obese, and tried to lose for 20+ years, is not exactly efficient timing!!

Other Self: Just congratulate yourself and keep going. A loss is a loss.

Myself: Right, but I’m 70 and the time on the clock is disappearing. I might even be dead before I reach a healthy weight!!

Other Self: Oh, there you go again. Such a pessimist!

I did make the decision about taking medication and proceeded with action. It is when the thoughts replay repeatedly, and over time, that I know it is becoming a problem.

In his popular book, Soundtracks: The Surprising Solution to Overthinking, author Jon Acuff says, “Overthinking steals time, creativity and productivity by making you listen to broken soundtracks,” and “I discovered how to turn overthinking from a super problem into a superpower.” It is an excellent read and it helped me understand my own patterns and how to address them.

It is common for me to “see” solutions in my mind’s eye upon awakening in the morning. Somehow my morning thoughts seem clearer, I’m rested, and they often lead to calendaring the day and planning the week ahead.

My first article written for publication was entitled, “Never a Right Time to Have a Baby.” Motivated by gratitude, the article was written after my son was born and treatment for my first cancer included two weeks in the hospital, a major surgery and loss of fertility when the baby was just 12 weeks old. Indeed, we were lucky to get pregnant when we did, and the idea for the article “sparked” early one morning.

While I didn’t write an article about it, a more recent experience taught me there is never a right time to start a business. Thrive Headwear, my chemo hat company, was born one early morning in 2010, when I envisioned a particular way to assemble and sew a head cover. The design occurred one morning when I had just awakened. That early morning idea, a bejeweled bandana-styled cotton scarf, sold in the thousands!

My cancer diagnosis coincided with leaving a job, trying to save money on my own head wear, and ultimately led to designing five additional hat products. I retired the business nine years later, after creating a website and wholesaling to hospitals and cancer centers in 10 states.

Much earlier in life, I recall receiving another visual cue while walking the aisle at my bookstore. I spotted striking colors on the white spine of a book. Taken by those bright pink, magenta, lavender, and purple colors streaking across the white cover, it took me a few moments to notice the book was titled, Listening to Your Inner Voice.

Since the topic of listening to my intuition had come up in a conversation earlier in the week, I smiled and bought the book, realizing I’d just been presented with an answer!

As a counselor, career and outplacement coach and a university and community education instructor for years, my favorite decision-making model was one that involved evaluating choices against one another using a ranked list of personal/work values.

With a little math, clear priorities always resulted and my students, clients and I loved the way these choices emerged.

Handwritten lists are also useful to me, if even to just clear my head. Containing the thoughts on a paper list, or in my phone, is the first step toward resolution. Seeing those tasks on my list immediately signals next steps, and I often combine tasks, assign myself dates and thoughts turn into action.

Next? For what seems like the grandaddy of all decisions because I’ve been stuck for so long, what is next for me? The answer is that I just launched a blog, “Aging with Passion” and proposed some courses in the local college community education department.

I’m taking some online courses to improve blogging and teaching skills and plan to deliver my training on the website associated with the blog. My focus is working at living our best lives in our 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, healthy aging, relocation retirement and retirement careers.

Inspired by wonderful men and women who have shared their stories with me in a series of “Successful Aging” profiles written for a local university research center on aging, I look forward to paying forward their inspiration! For someone who thinks, “what should I do now?” step one is submitting this article to SixtyandMe.com. Onward!

What is next for you? Have you been stuck because of uncertainty? Is there a time of day when you’re full of ideas? What idea did you have today? Share your thoughts even if you aren’t clear on the answers. Let’s start a discussion!



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