Macroexpand the Mind

Analysis Paralysis

There are lots of things that can kill a project before it starts: lack of funding, lack of time, lack of specification, lack of applicable talent, the list goes on and on. Many of these problems can be alleviated with creative resource management and a bit of elbow grease. There is, however, a far more subtle mental phenomenon that can be as destructive to the creator as it is to the fledgling project:

Analysis paralysis or paralysis of analysis is the state of over-analyzing (or over-thinking) a situation so that a decision or action is never taken, in effect paralyzing the outcome. A decision can be treated as over-complicated, with too many detailed options, so that a choice is never made, rather than try something and change if a major problem arises. A person might be seeking the optimal or “perfect” solution upfront, and fear making any decision which could lead to erroneous results, when on the way to a better solution.

Source: Wikipedia – Analysis Paralysis

It’s incredibly easy to start second guessing every decision you’ve made (or are going to make) before you’ve made your first commit. In the early stages of any project, one has to consider all the possible options available that could be used to accomplish the task at hand and, from that list, choose just “the best” one. To be sure, decisions made at this stage can greatly affect the outcome of the project. But here’s the rub: none of this will matter if you never actually ship the project. It’s always preferable to pick a path that turns out to be wrong versus picking the path that leads to nothing at all.

So here’s my advice to anyone setting out on a new project:

Just pick something, anything, to get the ball rolling. Your requirements will change, there will be unplanned roadblocks, and that’s OK. Worry about those things as they come up, not before. And most of all, do not let your analysis paralysis get in the way of being useful!