Overcoming Overthinking For a Smarter Accounting Career
As smart accountants doing smart things, we can unfortunately get stuck in the habit of overthinking. When not addressed, this can quietly slip into our work and personal lives, making it harder for us to grow professionally and personally.
If you’ve ever found yourself thinking too much about decisions, worrying about making mistakes, or feeling overwhelmed by your job, you’re not alone. In today’s episode I want to talk about how overthinking affects accountants and, more importantly, how you can stop it in order to have a more satisfying career.
Before we talk about ways to stop overthinking, I want you to consider the following:
Have you ever been stuck not knowing what to do at work, always thinking about whether you’re doing things right?
Do you ever lose sleep worrying about what might happen if you make a mistake?
If so, you might be dealing with overthinking.
In accounting, it’s important to be clear about our decisions, but overthinking often makes it difficult to be as productive as we’d like to be. It can slow us down and make our job more stressful than necessary.
For example, let’s say you have to make a decision about the direction of your career, and instead of feeling sure about it, you end up thinking too much and overanalyzing things. “What if I make the wrong decision?” “What if my decision causes problems?”
Unfortunately, thoughts like these can become a trap, stopping you from making the choices you need to move forward in your career. It’s important to understand that overthinking doesn’t just affect your decision-making; it also makes you more stressed and less productive at work.
Whether you’ve been working in accounting for a long time or you’re just starting, I’m going to be sharing some tips that will help you feel more confident, more sure of yourself, and help you perform better in your career.
So, if you’ve ever felt like overthinking is holding you back in your accounting career, keep listening.
The Impact of Overthinking on Your Accounting Career
Have you ever stood in front of a vending machine, staring at all the snacks, unable to decide? Overthinking at work can be a bit like that, but with bigger consequences.
When you have to make important decisions, too many thoughts can crowd your mind. It’s like having too many options in front of you, and you’re not sure which one is the best.
Think of your job in accounting as a well-organized desk. Now, imagine someone comes and adds more papers, pens, and folders until it becomes a mess.
Overthinking is like that messy pile – it just makes your job harder. It often leads to unintended mistakes because you’re too busy thinking about what could go wrong that you’re not focusing in the most effective way.
Unfortunately, overthinking can also slow you down, making tasks take longer than they should. Plus, the stress that comes with overthinking is like a heavy weight on your shoulders, making your job less enjoyable.
For example, one of my coaching clients spent hours worrying about a budget decision, only to realize later that her initial idea was the right one. Another client over thought about a client meeting so much that he stumbled through it, forgetting key details.
One client was dealing with client communication, often overanalyzing his emails to clients. He spent hours crafting messages, concerned about how they would be received. After a while, he noticed that straightforward communication was more effective, and his initial drafts were often sufficient.
Another client was working on tax strategies for a client, and tended to overthink the possible tax implications. This led her to explore multiple scenarios, causing delays in providing recommendations. In retrospect, she realized her initial analysis covered the key aspects, and the additional details were unnecessary.
These examples show that, while overthinking happens to the best of us, by learning from their experiences, we can find ways to tackle overthinking and make our own paths smoother.
Identifying Common Signs of Overthinking
Overthinking is a bit like a sneak attack on your mind, and recognizing the signs is the first step to stopping it. Here are some clues to watch out for:
Repetitive Thoughts: Do you find yourself going over the same problem repeatedly, like a broken record? This repetition is a sign that overthinking might be at play.
Feeling Stuck: If you feel stuck and can’t move forward with a decision, overthinking might be the culprit. It’s like your brain is hitting a pause button.
Analysis Paralysis: When decisions seem way harder than they should be, it’s a red flag. Overthinking can turn a simple choice into a complicated puzzle.
The truth is that knowing what sets off overthinking for you can help you steer clear of unnecessary stress. Here are some triggers to look out for:
Tough Projects: Challenging tasks can kickstart overthinking. When a project seems big or complicated, it’s like the starting line for overthinking to begin.
Deadlines: Feeling the pressure of a looming deadline? This stress can trigger overthinking as you worry about getting things done on time. This is especially common during tax season.
Busy Days: When your day is packed with tasks, it’s easier for overthinking to sneak in. It’s like your brain is on overload, and overthinking becomes the default mode.
Now, we’ve talked about the clues and possible triggers, take a moment to think about your own experiences:
Doubting Your Skills: Have you ever doubted your abilities, thinking you’re not good enough? This self-doubt is a common overthinking pattern.
Decision Debates: If you’ve spent too long debating a decision, going back and forth, that’s a sign of overthinking. It’s like being stuck in a loop of uncertainty.
Decision Fatigue: This can happen when you have a lot of decisions to make but it can also happen when you’re overthinking your decisions as well. Exhaustion could indicate overthinking.
Hopefully, by reflecting on these signs and triggers, you can start understanding when and why overthinking shows up in your work life. It’s like shining a light in a dark corner of the attic; it allows you to take control and steer your mind in a more positive direction.
Strategies to Stop Overthinking
The first strategy to consider is to try mindfulness – it’s like giving your brain a breather.
For example, instead of drowning in thoughts about what could go wrong, focus on the present moment. Take a few deep breaths, feel the floor beneath you, and bring your attention back to the task at hand. It’s like hitting a reset button for your mind.
The second strategy involves setting realistic goals and expectations. As accountants, we thrive on setting goals and hitting targets, but sometimes, we set the bar too high.
When it comes to stopping overthinking, be a bit kinder to yourself. Set achievable goals and realistic expectations.
Break down big tasks into smaller, manageable steps. It’s like solving a big math problem – breaking it down makes it less intimidating and more doable.
The third strategy is to develop a proactive problem-solving mindset. As accountants, problem-solving is one of our superpowers.
Instead of getting tangled in “what-ifs,” channel that energy into finding solutions. When faced with a challenge, think like a detective – gather information, weigh your options, and make a decision.
It’s like balancing the books – finding the right numbers to make everything add up. This proactive mindset shifts your focus from overthinking to practical problem-solving.
The final strategy is utilizing time management strategies to prevent overthinking. As we all know, time is money in the accounting realm, and managing it wisely is key.
To prevent overthinking, organize your time effectively. Break your day into dedicated blocks for different tasks.
Allocate specific time for decision-making and stick to it. It’s like creating a schedule for your brain – a structured plan that helps you stay on track. By managing your time well, you reduce the space for overthinking to sneak in.
Remember, these strategies aren’t just theory – they’re practical tools that you can incorporate into your daily routine. Just like balancing a budget, applying these techniques can lead to a more focused, less stressed, and ultimately, a more successful career in accounting.
Overcoming Overthinking Challenges
The first thing we need to do is learn from mistakes to ease overthinking. In the accounting world, errors can feel like roadblocks to success. However, viewing mistakes as learning opportunities can be a powerful strategy against overthinking.
Instead of dwelling on what went wrong, treat mistakes as valuable lessons. By doing so, you’ll turn hurdles into stepping stones, reducing the tendency to overthink and fostering a proactive problem-solving approach.
The next thing to consider is creating a positive and adaptive mindset. As accountants, we often deal with complex scenarios, and a positive, growth-oriented mindset can be a game-changer.
Rather than fixating on potential pitfalls, focus on the potential for growth and improvement. This shift in perspective helps in reducing anxiety and prevents overthinking by creating a mindset that sees challenges as opportunities for development.
And the last suggestion is to view constructive feedback as a tool for combatting overthinking.
Seeking feedback is not just about improvement; it’s a key strategy to combat overthinking.
By actively seeking constructive criticism, you open doors for improvement, enabling you to address concerns and grow professionally. This approach turns the fear of making mistakes into a constructive feedback loop, minimizing overthinking tendencies and contributing to continuous improvement.
Becoming a Smarter Accountant: Sharpening Your Decision-Making Skills to Overcome Overthinking
I believe one of the biggest issues when it comes to overthinking is a lack of confidence. But confidence is more than just a personal trait; it’s a feeling that can affect all areas of your life and your career.
Cultivating confidence in decision-making is like unlocking a secret door to professional advancement. Embracing the strength that comes with confident choices not only moves you forward but also helps to overcome any barriers caused by overthinking.
Here are some suggestions for building confidence in your decision-making:
Reflect on Past Successes: Recall instances where your decisions led to positive outcomes. Acknowledge and build upon these successes to boost your confidence.
Example: Think back to a time where you may have successfully implemented a new financial reporting system that streamlined processes and saved time.
Reflecting on Practical Strengths: Identify specific skills and experiences that make you effective in your accounting role. Regularly acknowledge these practical strengths to build confidence.
Example: Remind yourself that your attention to detail and accuracy in financial analysis contributes significantly to the team’s success.
Concrete Preparations for Challenging Situations: Make detailed plans and gather necessary information beforehand. This practical approach can help you feel more confident in your decision-making.
Example: Before a client meeting, thoroughly review financial data, anticipate potential questions, and prepare clear explanations for various scenarios.
In addition to building confidence, it’s also important to improve your ability to make timely decisions. Here are a few suggestions if indecision is an issue for you:
Set Decision-Making Timeframes: Establish specific timeframes for making decisions. Allocate appropriate time based on the impact and complexity of the situation to avoid unnecessary delays.
Example: When possible, decide to finalize budget allocations within two days of receiving the necessary financial data.
Prioritize Information: Identify key information required for decision-making. Focus on gathering essential data, preventing the trap of overanalyzing irrelevant details.
Example: When evaluating investment options, prioritize factors such as potential return on investment and risk levels.
Trust Your Instincts: Develop confidence in your instincts and judgment. Sometimes, swift decisions based on experience and intuition can be remarkably effective.
Example: Trust your instinct when choosing between two accounting software options that both meet the necessary criteria.
And the last thing to pay attention to is striking the balance between analysis and action. Here are some suggestions:
Define Decision Criteria: Clearly outline the criteria guiding your decisions. Establishing specific parameters helps balance thorough analysis with actionable steps.
Example: When choosing a vendor, consider factors such as cost, reliability, and compatibility with existing systems.
Implement a Decision-Making Framework: Develop a systematic approach to decision-making. Create a step-by-step framework that involves gathering information, analyzing options, and setting deadlines for action.
Example: Use a decision-making matrix to objectively evaluate different accounting software solutions based on predetermined criteria.
Evaluate Decision Outcomes: After making a decision, assess the outcomes. Learning from both successful and less successful decisions contributes to continuous improvement.
Example: Evaluate the impact of introducing a new accounting procedure on efficiency and accuracy, and adjust the approach accordingly.
By following these steps and incorporating examples into your decision-making process, you can cultivate confidence, navigate decisions more efficiently, and strike a harmonious balance between analysis and action. Becoming a Smarter Accountant means ultimately overcoming the challenges of overthinking in your accounting career.
Well, that’s what I have for you. Thank you for joining me as I shared how to stop overthinking. I hope you’ve gained valuable insights and practical tips.
If you are struggling with any aspect of being an accountant, you can simply go to www.thesmarteraccountant.com/calendar and book a free session with me.
I’ll explain The Smarter Accountant 6-week Program and how you can apply it to whatever you’re struggling with.
So make sure you check back each week as I help you go from being a stressed accountant to a Smarter Accountant.
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The truth is that you’re already smart, but this podcast will show you how to be smarter.