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  • Writer's pictureL3 Global Ventures

How Overthinking Robs You of a Fulfilling Career

What is overthinking?

Have you ever found yourself going over something again and again in your head, analyzing even the simplest of events or situations? And then you feel like you've lost all control and sense of proportion, getting stuck in a recurring pattern of worry?

This is the familiar concept of overthinking.

It is typical for people to dwell on a problem. Still, if you find that you are overthinking trivial issues for an extended period and it is preventing you from enjoying your work or your life in general, you may want to address the problem.

How do I know if I'm overthinking?

Overthinking is a common habit among excellent problem-solvers or perfectionists. According to Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, a psychology professor from the University of Michigan, those between the ages of 25 – 35 tend to suffer from overthinking more than their older peers. Additionally, women are more prone to overthinking than men. But regardless of these statistics, people of different ages, backgrounds, cultures, and genders can be prone to overthinking.

How does it manifest in the workplace?

Here are some warning signs of overthinking and how it could harm your career:

Embarrassing mistakes or moments keep replaying in your head

Thinking about the past and the mistakes you've committed can limit you from reaching your professional potential. When it comes to self-confidence, it can be damaging to continue dwelling on how you "screwed up" or embarrassed yourself. As a result, you become reluctant to take on a new challenge or pursue a piece of work that will put you in the limelight out of fear of failure.

The past doesn't define your future, and it is in our human nature to occasionally make mistakes, so giving yourself a hard time is pointless. Instead of negatively dwelling on these past experiences, try to look at them as learning opportunities that can help you identify solutions to prevent them from happening again. Remember that if the event was tiny or occurred long ago, you are probably the only person who remembers it.

You constantly think about what others think of you

It's understandable to want good professional relationships because everyone wants to be well-regarded at work. However, if you constantly find yourself worrying about what other people think of you, this may indicate that you're an overthinker. It can be helpful to remember that individuals are frequently merely busy or focused on their responsibilities at work, which can make them seem aggressive or unpleasant but is usually unlikely to have anything to do with you individually. Try not to let other people's remarks or actions influence you badly; doing so can ruin relationships since it makes you seem unfavorable, suspicious, or clumsy to others.

Perfectionism is at an extreme

While striving to do your best work on any task or project at work is essential, perfectionism isn't always a bad trait. However, spending the majority of your day "over-editing" because you don't trust your judgment will waste your time and effort and make you less productive in the long run.

You feel like you're not good enough at the job

Overthinking can cast insecurity that you're not good at your job, eventually causing low confidence and self-esteem. This can lead to high levels of anxiety and stress and can be associated with imposter syndrome, where you believe you've achieved what you've achieved simply by luck and that you're not entitled to your job.

What should I do about it?

Simply acknowledging you have a problem is a good stepping stone. This is not something that happens to you alone. It is a recognized issue among many individuals.

Speak to a trusted colleague

Asking a third party whether they share your perceptions of how colleagues view you at work is one of the best ways to establish a positive working relationship and reduce your anxiety. There is a high probability that they'll tell you that it's all in your head and that you shouldn't worry about it a lot.

Explore your career alignment

Because your job may not be where your passions lay and you don't particularly enjoy the work, it can cause excessive worrying because you don't feel confident or at ease with it. You may think that you "should" like what you do and that it's your "fault" for not enjoying it, especially given that you have colleagues who may enjoy the same line of work as yours. This lack of fulfillment may cause anxious overthinking. Your confidence may increase due to addressing this matter and thinking about a change of course, which can help you break free from persistently pessimistic thought patterns.

Find a cause

A significant life event, like the beginning of a new relationship or a bereavement, can occasionally impact other aspects of your life, including your employment. They might be to blame for your low self-esteem and lack of faith in your judgment and skills. By realizing that overthinking at work is a side effect of something stressing you out or making you anxious, you will be able to gain some perspective.

Practice mindfulness or relaxation techniques

You may stop worrying about work constantly after you leave your desk by finding ways to unwind and switch off. Encourage yourself to focus on all the positive things that have occurred each day rather than dwelling on the negative ones.

Overthinking ruins the quality of life. Remember that problems will come and go, but as long as you're aware of your boundaries and tendencies to overthink, you can slowly possess a sense of control over how you handle situations. Eventually, you'll likely find it easier to become successful in your career, enjoy your work, and open the door to more opportunities than you’ve expected.

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